Having caught glimpses of Davina Stanley’s stunning Mount Faber two-story bungalow online and remembering being hopelessly awestruck as we browsed through picture after picture of sheer interior envy, we were beyond thrilled to be invited over for this interview.
Interior designer, stylist and founder of Paper+White, Davina calls a classic black and white colonial bungalow in Singapore home. Located at the mouth of a shaded footway, the double-storey residence is a beautiful specimen of a colonial relic in modern day Singapore. A monochromatic colour palette draws attention to the building’s structure and heritage, whilst an abundance of light filtering in through the building’s gaping doors and windows create an open and airy ambience. Throughout the elegant house, an appreciation of good taste, timelessness and sophistication prevails, all the time maintaining day-to-day practicality and comfort as its base. Round the back, a shaded verandah acts as a beautiful footnote to outdoor living, where neutral tones are interspersed with ocean blues to enact a tranquil and relaxing scene.
Davina moved to Singapore in March 2012 following the successful running of a large interior design and event company in London, where she specialised in throwing magnificent and extravagant parties for her clients that involved elaborate landscaping and fanciful work such as putting gardens under glass.
Her passion came calling when one of her clients turned round with a request for Davina to design her house once the party was over. Paper+White was established in the same year, a full service interior design and event styling studio – where Davina’s affinity for collating, layering and mixing styles is well spent creating intelligent and sophisticated spaces that reflect the individuals who live in and enjoy them.
On the cusp of launching Paper+White’s new furniture and accessories collection, we steal a few minutes with Davina to learn more about her process and projects, as well as a few design tips.
THE BEGINNINGS OF PAPER+WHITE.
I started Paper+White after moving to Singapore from London 3 years ago. I was working as an interior designer and event stylist in London for over 10 years, and before that I was involved in the film industry. I started Paper+White because I saw a gap in the market for home and party styling services and from there – it grew into the full service interior design and event styling studio it is today. We renovated and moved in to a Black and White house and now use it as a showroom for clients to come and see an example of our work.
A DAY IN THE LIFE.
Every day is different at Paper+White although the mornings usually start the same way – a long list accompanied by a large coffee! We have a quick team meeting to catch up on the work in progress and then we get going on our tasks for the day. The fun side of the job involves site visits, sourcing beautiful and interesting pieces for our clients, and designing spaces for them. The not-so-fun part of our job includes budgeting and number crunching, but we understand it’s a fundamental part of any business. Aside from designing and sourcing for our interior design clients, we have been busy lately designing and planning our new furniture and accessories range launching in November. This has involved bouncing ideas back and forth with designers, craftsmen and suppliers from all around the world, which has been challenging but extremely rewarding.
THE TEAM BEHIND PAPER+WHITE.
We all have varied and diverse backgrounds ranging from film production to advertising. We have found that even though we are trained interior designers, the skills gained from our past careers often hold us in good stead. We have slightly different personal styles that compliment each other. We think this adds value for our clients, as we are able to offer a broad service to suit individual needs and to accommodate a range of living spaces and lifestyles.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE.
We seem to have a gained a reputation in Singapore as the Black & White designers – which we love! However we also have a lot of experience designing and decorating contemporary apartments and condos. No job is too big or too small for us. Some clients just ask us to help rearrange furniture, while others ask us to gut their whole house and start from scratch! Between us, we have extensive experience in all areas of interior design from soft furnishings to major structural renovations.
THE DESIGN AESTHETIC.
Paper+White puts an eclectic spin on a classic style. With a strong English influence, there is a sense of balance and formality in everything we do. We incorporate traditional styles with contemporary pieces to invite a warm and relaxed ambience. Our spaces are for living in, and to be enjoyed. They’re not just for looking at from afar.
The interior design scene in Singapore is evolving quickly and we have noticed an influx in creativity over the past year or so. This has made working as a designer in Singapore far more exciting and interesting. New products are being introduced to Singapore all the time, making our job easier in terms of accessing furniture, fabrics, antiques, art and other fixtures and furnishings for our clients. In the past this was sometimes a challenge and we sometimes had to import the pieces we needed from overseas.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR PAPER+WHITE.
Aside from our existing clients, our focus at the moment is on our first furniture and accessories collection launching in November. Following that, we hope to continue introducing new ranges and offering carefully curated pieces to the Singapore market. Our interior design service is still at the core of our business so we will continue to take on exciting new clients and challenges. We are a tight team of 3 at the moment, but the business is growing quickly so we are planning to introduce more talented staff members in the near future.
Balance // Flow // Texture // Scale // Proportion // And Davina’s mantra… “Always buy in pairs”
FINDING CREATIVE INSPIRATION.
Books, magazines and the Internet are always great for inspiration although nothing is more inspiring than seeing a beautifully executed space in person. We admire rooms that are layered with personality and that are full of intricate and subtle details. It can sometimes be a challenge as a designer to mix clients’ existing pieces with new finds, but when it’s done well the space will always be highly personalised and individual.
MUST-HAVE CREATIVE RESOURCES.
We have a huge collection of books of designers and artists that we often flick through for inspiration. We subscribe to boutique publications from around the world such as Anthology and Habitania and love a quick scroll-through of our favourite blogs in the mornings. Instagram is a new favourite as it’s always at our fingertips and Pinterest is wonderful for collecting banks of images – very much like creating a mood board!
FAVOURITE LOCAL BRANDS.
We work with many furniture and home accessories retailers here in Singapore. Among our main partners are The Shophouse, Bungalow 55, Originals, Modern Eclectic, China Collection, TOTT, Taylor B. Fine Design, Cuckoo, Strangelets, and Bloesem.
DREAM CREATIVE PROJECT.
I would love to work from concept to finish on a boutique hotel either here in Singapore or on an idyllic island somewhere in Asia.