Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home

From industrial designer to interior architect to luxury retailer to fine artist, Stefanie Hauger clearly loves to work on new techniques and push boundaries. Here she talks to us about her journey, works, VANILLA HOME and retail in Singapore.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Stefanie Hauger describes her life as an immersion into the world of art and design in one form or another. Her lifestyle emporium in Singapore, Vanilla Home, was a natural extension of her work as an interior architect. The retail space is a platform for the artists and designers that Stefanie has curated since 2002.

While Stefanie’s brush with art has been life long – her mother was a painter and she studied fine art at college – she felt that she should give herself the opportunity to explore this field in more depth. She explains it to be “a loud calling”. And in 2011 Stefanie followed that inner voice by returning to fine art. She has spent the last six years depicting many of her experiences in the works she creates, whether it be paintings or sculptures.

Her experimentation with techniques won her the prestigious 2013 UOB Southeast Asian and Singapore Painting of the Year awards, and her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, fairs and solo exhibitions. Evidently, she is not afraid to push boundaries in any form.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

How would you describe your signature style?

I have always worked with very fluid paint to see where I can push boundaries with the medium. Years of experimentation have led to a particular style which is called Biomorphic Abstract – this describes living organisms set into an abstract context in art. Much of my work now revolves around nature, texture and life on a molecular or microscopic level.

How did this come about?

Years of experimenting with differing liquidities of paint and how they react with one another led to the fine tuning of certain techniques. I always want to push to the next level, never be stuck in just one technique, constantly find new ways to move people with a work of art.

My dominant art influences are the abstract impressionists who broke through the traditional confines of painting to show us new possibilities, not without their critics, and who thus opened up new realms of acceptance within the artworld. They also invented the ‘all-over painting’ where an entire canvas is filled with the same rhythm or texture or technique which is very much the way I work.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished / Stefanie Hauger

What’s your favourite subject to paint?

Nature, texture and living things in an abstract form. For the last 10 months I have also been working with combining the canvas with metal fashion spikes which creates a multi-dimensional, interactive experience that is a heady mixture of the fluid art and the rigidity of the metal.

What types of techniques have your explored?

I have explored many different techniques, most notably thick impasto paintings and paintings that are created purely through manipulation of the canvas instead of using a brush. In fact I generally use a brush only to mix the paint, after that it is up to my physical interaction with the canvas that determines the outcome. It is sometimes like a dance and other times like a wrestling match.

What do you do when you feel uninspired?

I am rarely uninspired, I don’t really get artist’s block. If anything I have to stop myself going off in too many different directions, I am constantly having to pull myself back to what I am currently working on and sticking to one theme and a series. But when I am stuck I read about artists that inspire me and this gets me going again pretty fast.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Adopt the pace of nature… / Stefanie Hauger

Art is a huge discipline; it is hard, hard work and requires massive concentration and perseverance. And there are many times when the results are not what one might have wished for and a ‘good artist’ will work through that with courage and determination and perhaps a small, healthy dose of self-belief. Fearlessness is another important factor in being a good artist, without that you will never make an unexpected stroke or think outside of the box.

Who are your top three creatives to follow on Instagram?

I love following @agathodee, @siemonandsalazar and @indiamahdavi… but there are hundreds more of course (@nacitopak for instance, he is a ceramics lecturer in Turkey)

How do you curate brands for Vanilla Home?

We select brands based on quality, craftsmanship, timeless elegance and their particular artisanal style. In other words we buy from small manufacturers and workshops who make a few products to an exceptional level, people who share our deep passion for the finest things in life that a customer will keep for life.

In your opinion, what’s the future state of the retail industry in Singapore?

For Singapore to once again become the premier shopping destination in South East Asia will require a huge joint effort from both the Government and retailers. The Government need to regulate high retail space rental costs, lower manufacturing costs in the industrial sector and address the very high number of shopping malls in Singapore all selling the same thing and offering a very similar experience.

Retailers are already doing their part. In order to survive against increased rivalry regionally, constant competition from eCommerce giants and the drastic change in demographics of shoppers they are embracing the power of digital and will be providing customers with a truly unique first-class 360-degree shopping experience. Success in the future will be had by those who provide the very best customer service, deliver a customer experience that seamlessly moves between online and bricks and mortar and by those who sell exciting, exclusive, good quality, well priced products. Sounds easy!

My advice for aspiring creatives is: fearlessness, courage, hard work, discipline and perseverance. Also train yourself to see the world through your ‘artist lens’, your interpretation and your mind’s eye, if you don’t take what you see around you too literally then your artistic self will have a chance to emerge. And don’t take yourself too seriously, sometimes when are having a real slump the best thing is to throw the painting on the floor and dance on it and see what happens next.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Nature does not hurry… II / Stefanie Hauger

How would you describe the style/vibe of Singapore?

Singapore’s style is one of constant change due to it being a young country and a truly multicultural one. Singapore and Singaporeans are constantly adapting to incredibly fast changes made both to their urban landscape and population demographic. We’ve seen this lead to constant diffusion of new styles and creative hubs that need time to develop properly to become authentic cultural markers for Singapore. There is one constant however, and that is a Singaporean’s love for and affinity with luxury branded goods! A true marker of Singapore’s style.

Where is on the top of your travel bucket list?

At the top of my travel bucket list is actually India. I have never been even though my house is filled with Indian artefacts, textiles and furniture. Perhaps I have never gone because I know I would bring half of India home with me…

In 5 years you will find me…

probably doing exactly the same things I am doing now. I truly love everything I am involved in and have no desire for change.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept

Meet the Indonesian furniture brand that is quickly making a mark in Singapore due to its affordable elegant tropical-style pieces. We chat with co-owner of ELEMENTS CONCEPT, Ingeborg Van Der Hoek, about what inspired the team to launch in Singapore, a new collection, and the exciting times that lie ahead for this sustainable brand.

Ingeborg van der Hoek | Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

When Ingeborg van der Hoek walked into one of Elements Concept’s Jakarta stores in June 2016, she immediately fell in love with the brand. Who can resist a standout collection of hand-woven homewares and furniture made with natural materials by talented craftsmen and women?

Elements Concept was founded in 2015 by Dutch designer Bastiaan Spil. The designer – who grew up in Indonesia – is no novice, coming from a family who has been making furniture and home accessories for many popular stores for over 30 years. Bastiaan, together with his team, is heavily involved in the design process and manages everything from sourcing raw materials to producing the pieces in his factories and workshops.

Today, Elements Concept has two stores in Indonesia, outfits cafes, restaurants, hotels and beach clubs all over Indonesia and exports products and franchises its concept to Europe, the US, Japan and Australia.

The team felt that Singapore could use a high quality, natural furniture brand that ties in with its yearlong tropical vibes. It didn’t take long before Ingeborg – who currently resides in Singapore – became the co-owner of Elements Concept.

Ingeborg tells us all about the positive reception the brand has received as she runs the Singapore branch and shares her all-time favourite pieces as well as new additions to look out for from the latest collection.

How did the Elements Concept come about?

The brand was founded in 2015 by Bastiaan Spil. Bastiaan is a Dutch designer who grew up in Indonesia. His parents moved there 30 years ago to start a furniture workshop with local craftsmen. Since then, they have been making furniture and home accessories for stores all over the world, including two of the most popular furniture and home decor stores in The Netherlands. In 2015, Bastiaan started his own brand under the name Elements Concept from this workshop, creating his own designs.

Who is behind Elements Concept and what roles do they play?

First of all, our talented craftsmen and -women of course! They are the ones making the fabulous pieces, all by hand. Then there is Bastiaan Spil. Bastiaan studied at the Art Academy and Economics & Law in The Netherlands before returning to Indonesia to use what he had learned to set up Elements Concept. Bastiaan designs the furniture and home accessories, runs the business (including two stores) in Indonesia, manages commercial projects (like hotels & restaurants) and exports to countries all over the world.

I am co-owner of the brand in Singapore. I run the Singapore branch, manage all sales & marketing, operations and projects. Before collaborating with Bastiaan I ran a tiny furniture business in Singapore, doing mainly custom made items on a very small scale.

How did you decide to be a part of Elements Concept?

In June 2016, after a tip from a friend in Singapore, I walked into one of the Elements Concept stores in Jakarta and immediately fell in love with the brand. I loved the natural feel of it, the tropical touch and just really gorgeous designs. Bastiaan and I met up for a coffee and decided there and then to work together.

Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Founder, Bastiaan Spil

"I walked into one of the Elements Concept stores in Jakarta and immediately fell in love with the brand. I loved the natural feel of it, the tropical touch and just really gorgeous designs. Bastiaan (the founder of Elements Concept) and I met up for a coffee and decided there and then to work together."

Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept’s Jakarta store

What inspired the team to launch in Singapore?

We really felt that Singapore could use a high quality, natural furniture brand with a tropical vibe that is quite easy on the wallet.

Have you faced any challenges while launching the business in Singapore?

Up until now, it’s going quite smooth actually…

All items are made by craftsmen in your factories and workshops. How does this play a part in your design philosophy?

Yes, all items are handmade in our own workshop, which gives every single piece its own character. Though, a lot of the smaller rattan pieces are braided by craftsmen and –women at their homes and are collected once a week. This way they can stay with their families and earn a living at the same time.

The team is heavily involved in the design process. Tell us more about it from concept to finished product.

We keep our designs as close to nature as possible, using natural materials we source ourselves – like sustainable teak, rattan, bamboo, marble and brass – and authentic techniques. Good craftsmanship and only the best materials form the base for all our designs. We aim to finish a collection every three months, that’s the time it takes to create a new collection.

Elements Concept also furnishes many cafes, restaurants, hotels and beach clubs in Indonesia. How do you choose these projects/collaborations?

Correct, we are really proud of the projects we have done in Indonesia and actually we are also working on a few in Singapore as well. In these projects, we work together with interior designers who bring in a lot of creative ideas.

Ingeborg van der Hoek | Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Ingeborg van der Hoek | Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

"My old time favourite is the Paul Arm Chair, which was originally designed as part of our project for the Katamama Hotel (Potato Head Group) in Seminyak, Bali. Or is it the Straw Parasol…? Or the Palm Lantern…? Or the huge rattan pendant lamps…? So hard to choose!"

What are some highlights the brand has seen recently?

The launch in Singapore and the way the brand is welcomed here is a huge highlight. Also the collaboration within The Attaby Collective is something we’re really excited about.

Tell us about the collection. Do you have a favourite piece? Any exciting pieces/collections coming down the pipeline?

After a very successful launch of Elements Concept in Singapore in February of this year, it’s time to introduce the second collection to our enthusiastic customers in the little Red Dot in June. With this second collection, we continue to build on Elements Concepts principles of high-quality, beautifully handcrafted furniture and home decor made of the best materials in up-to-date designs for a price that doesn’t hurt your wallet too much.

New in this collection is the addition of a butler trolley, a perfect eye catcher in your interior. And big trendy plant pots to bring the green jungle in your house. Furthermore, Elements Concept added a wider variety of cabinets, dining tables, lounge chairs, sofas and accessories.

But my old time favourite is the Paul Arm Chair, which was originally designed as part of our project for the Katamama Hotel (Potato Head Group) in Seminyak, Bali. Or is it the Straw Parasol…? Or the Palm Lantern…? Or the huge rattan pendant lamps…? So hard to choose ; )

There are also some things we make just because we think it is cool. Like our unique Volkswagen van from the sixties completely covered in rattan. We are now working on a boat and in the process of building an Elements Villa in Lombok, which will function as a small retreat to relax and inspire.

Elements Concept is now available at TheAC (The Attaby Collective). How did this collaboration come to be?

I met the founder of TheAC, Claire Chahil (also the founder of the fashion brand Attaby), through a friend. Claire told me about her plans to collaborate with different independent brands to open a boutique department store where customers can discover a wide range of products from different brands. That sounded like a marvellous plan.

What can visitors expect to see in the store?

A thoughtfully curated selection of independent brands offering unique designs from women’s, men’s and kids’ fashion, active wear and jewellery to furniture and home accessories.

You can read more about TheAC here.

Shop The Story

Coffee Chair in Black | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Coffee Chair in Black

Butler Trolley | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Butler Trolley

Summer Baskets | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Summer Baskets

Moambique Pot TerraII | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Moambique Pot TerraII

Elements Concept is available at TheAC | 420 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427641 and at these locations in Jakarta.

All images courtesy of Ingeborg Van Der Hoek.

Claire Chahil, TheAC

Imagine a boutique designed with Singapore’s tropical climate and lifestyle in mind. Meet TheAC. Find out how its founder CLAIRE CHAHIL is going beyond curating independent, local designers for this new retail space.

Located in the heart of Singapore’s historic enclave of Joo Chiat in a traditional Peranakan shophouse, The Attaby Collective (TheAC) is not your average multi-label boutique. It is a retail incubator featuring a curated selection of independent designers and brands.

What started as a pop up in 2016, this new retail space is now the permanent home of 11 fashion, home, kids, accessories, activewear and art brands. The space showcases familiar names like Elverd Designs, Eysse & I through to new arrivals like InZone5, Big Blue Company and Elements Concept. Each curated brand is independent with a focus on responsible and fair production practices. Their shared passion for what they do and design shines through in the fun and tropical-inspired setting.

We sat down with the founder Claire Chahil, who is also the owner and designer of Attaby, to hear all about the idea behindTheAC, her stand on retail in Singapore and what’s in store during challenging retail times in Singapore. 

I wanted a disruptive retail model that would offer the opportunity for emerging brands to grow their following, be housed in a permanent retail space but without the usual consignment model pitfalls.

 

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Image: Founder, Claire Chahil

As the fashion designer of Attaby, what triggered you open TheAc?

With over 10 years experience in fashion and retail, I wanted a disruptive retail model that would offer the opportunity for emerging brands to grow their following, be housed in a permanent retail space but without the usual consignment model pitfalls. Attaby sits within the collective as an in-house fashion label.

What has been the biggest challenge with being a creative in business?

I’ve always debunked the myth that creative practitioners are not natural business people. On the contrary, running a business is about finding solutions and putting ideas into practice every day, which is the remit of a designer. The biggest challenges in this context can become your biggest opportunities.

What’s next in store for you?

I’m planning on two levels at the moment. I have immediate plans to foster the existing group of brands and the current space because I absolutely love the energising feedback from our customers. I also have a secondary plan for the future of TheAC that is on a much larger scale, which is all in the strategy stage at the moment.

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

In your opinion, what’s the current state of the retail industry in Singapore?

Retail can often be volatile and we can certainly see huge challenges both here and on an international level for many reasons. The traditional business models are being revised and TheAC is proud to be part of this disruption. Singapore has gone through a rapid Internationalisation project but now people are looking for a little more specialisation and something that is not so mass market. Our brand leaders are always actively engaged with our core customers and this is what leads us to success.

How do you think the situation will change in the future?

Many people talk about the death of traditional shops but I think people will always want to experience shopping as a leisure activity and feel the product before they buy. So the challenge is to make the traditional shop a desirable and inspirational place to visit. In this sense, the TheAC is not simply a shop. We are a boutique, a brand discovery centre and social space where we host events.

What advice would you share with aspiring store owners?

Firstly make sure you like your shop as you’ll be spending a lot of time there! You need to be proud of what you create to give it positive energy. With my business hat on I’d say do your research on what exactly you will offer in the marketplace and try to gather a following before you take the plunge.

Many people talk about the death of traditional shops but I think people will always want to experience shopping as a leisure activity and feel the product before they buy. So the challenge is to make the traditional shop a desirable and inspirational place to visit.

 

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

How would you describe Singapore Style?

I think Singapore is a mix of city chic and beach resort – after all, it is a banking centre with a corporate edge yet is also a tropical island where flip flops (or thongs/slippers) and kaftans can be day wear. One thing I love is that you can dress in anything from a traditional sari to a pencil skirt and blouse or shorts and a t-shirt and people are perfectly accepting of this. Once I even found myself in full white tie dress eating noodles at a roadside hawker with hardly an eyebrow raised. I love that mix.

How has style changed in Singapore in the last few years?

There is a real confidence in local designers that has developed over the 6 years I’ve been here, which has changed the style landscape. More options exist at all levels of the market so people can dress according to their style aesthetic more easily. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Singapore fashion scene.

What’s the best time to visit Singapore?

Anytime is a good time to visit Singapore!

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

TheAc is located at 420 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427641.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 8pm | Sunday, 11am – 3pm

All images courtesy of Claire Chahil and Louise Hill Design.

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving

Leah Lambert, founder of Singapore's fashion, accessories and homewares clearance sale event, Glamorous Giving, shares how it has evolved over the years, the reasons behind the event’s massive success; and what to look forward to as it takes on a bigger location and more brands than ever.

 

 

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

Who would have thought a clearance sale would emerge as one of Singapore’s most glamorous charity shopping events? Probably not Leah, who organised the first Glamorous Giving event in January 2014 – with just 15 brands. Today, the founder of Singapore-based jewellery label Stones that Rock, has a waiting list of companies wanting to participate in the clearance sale.

Back for its seventh edition on February 14 and 15, 2017, Glamorous Giving will host some of Singapore’s top independent local designers and boutiques. Shoppers will be able to snag great deals at irresistible prices – end of line, end of season and sample stock at up to 70% off and starting as low as $5. The brands will be selling their products in support of the Singapore Committee for UN Women.

We sat down with Leah to learn all about the new location at The Ballroom at Orchard Parade Hotel, some highlights and the brands to look forward to – plus some tips on how to make the most out of attending Glamorous Giving.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did the idea behind Glamorous Giving come about?

Stones that Rock has always organised small clearance sales. At the end of 2013, we decided to make our sale bigger and promote it more broadly. At the same time, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to use the event as an opportunity to raise money for a cause we believe in and so began our partnership with the Singapore Committee for UN Women.

When did you decide to organise this event?

The first Glamorous Giving was held in January 2014 at a Black and White house in Ridley Park with the owner kindly agreeing to open her home to 15 brands and hundreds of bargain-hungry strangers. In organising the first event, we reached out to Renee Lodens, the Founder of Travelshopa to increase awareness of the event.

GG has seen a successful 3 years. Why do you think the event has been such a huge success?

I am very proud of the way the event has grown and become so popular with customers and vendors alike. I believe there are several reasons for this: firstly we raise money for an organisation that does immensely important work. We are very proud of our association with the Singapore Committee for UN Woman and clearly, people are happy to support such a worthwhile cause.

Secondly, reducing surplus stock can be a problem for small businesses, particularly in a limited market like Singapore. By creating a low cost of entry event for brands to sell their products, the brands, in turn, are able to offer bargain prices before they release their new collections.

Thirdly, the atmosphere is always fun and festive as it’s usually the first sale event for many vendors and shoppers after the big Christmas and summer holidays – so people are very happy to see one another and catch up.

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

Do you see a difference between the first and latest edition? If so, how has the event changed over the years?

After the success of the first GG, we moved the event to the Hollandse Club and doubled the number of vendors. We were able to offer a greater spread of brands and bargains, which meant shoppers really started to take notice of the event and even started planning their shopping around it, for example buying in September for Christmas. 

Vendors started to notice us and we began to get enquiries from brands wanting to participate. Now we have a waiting list of companies wanting to join us. We are also being approached by organisations wanting to be associated with the event, which in turn has allowed us to grow and reach more potential shoppers.

GG has been in support of the Singapore Committee for UN Women. How has the organisation benefitted from GG over the years?

Besides benefitting from the donation we give them after each event, which further funds the invaluable work they are doing with leadership development, economic independence, and helping women live lives free from violence and abuse, I think UN Women has benefitted from an increase in awareness across new segments of the population as well as an increase in membership.

Representatives attend each event and have the opportunity to talk to shoppers about the work the Committee does which encourages new membership.

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

The atmosphere is always fun and festive as it’s usually the first sale event for many vendors and shoppers after the big Christmas and summer holidays. People are very happy to see one another and catch up.

GG has moved to a new location at The Ballroom at Orchard Parade Hotel. Tell us about the new location.

After five fantastic GG events at the Hollandse Club, we thought it was time to grow the event and bring it “downtown” to Orchard Rd, hence the move to the newly renovated Ballroom at the Orchard Parade Hotel. 

The increase in space has meant we have been able to invite another 20 vendors to join us, which has broadened the mix so we now offer a really eclectic range of brands. The Hotel has also come on board as a sponsor, which we are delighted about, together with our other sponsors, Travelshopa, Expat Living, TTG Wines and Urban Remedy Asia.

What are some highlights of the upcoming seventh edition?

The opening night falls on Valentine’s Day, so we hope shoppers will kick off their evening with a quick “stop and shop” at Glamorous Giving where they can enjoy complimentary wine from our wine sponsor TTG Wines and canapés.

We’ll have great offers from our marketing partner Urban Remedy, free magazines from Expat Living and a host of brilliant bargains. Prices will start from $5 and many brands will be discounted by up to 70%.

What are some brands shoppers should look forward to?

It’s very difficult to choose as we are represented by so many wonderful brands but some of the crowd favourites are: Ria Shoes Menorca, Shiva designs Bespoke, Simply Silk, Desti Saint Handbags, Inzone5 and of course, Stones that Rock.

I know shoppers are going to really enjoy some of our newest partners including Bohemian, Base Athletica, Fair Price Antiques, Hacienda Blue and Anna Rainn.

Any advice for first-time attendees?

1. Save-the-date & clear your diary
2. Come early
3. Take your time
4. Bring cash
5. Bring a big bag
6. Make a list of all your favourite brands so you don’t forget to visit them

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa
Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

All images courtesy of Leah Lambert and Sandra Macheroux.

Click on the banner below to learn more about the participating vendors. 

Perfect Imperfect Home Styling

Perfect Imperfect Home Styling | Travelshopa

Two years after the launch of online homewares store, SYLODECO, Helene Denaiffe found that many of her clients struggle to find time to style their homes. Today, she unveils Perfect Imperfect, a blog dedicated to giving budding home decorators a dose of home inspiration, interior styling tips and professional advice.

Helene Denaiffe is the brain behind Stylodeco, the aesthetically pleasing online homewares emporium that has been bringing coveted European brands to the Asia for the last two years. Now, she’s made every homemaker’s home styling dreams come to life with the launch of Perfect Imperfect.

With an ethos of ‘home styling made easy’, Helene has taken the daunting task of interior styling off our shoulders by spoiling us with her expert home styling tips and home inspiration.

Join us as Helen shares the inspiration behind the new blog, why it’s important to create a place of comfort with imperfections, as well as six tips to creating a stylish and cosy nest.

When did you first know you had an interest in interiors?

As long as I can remember, I have always been interested in interiors. When I was old enough to get pocket money from my parents, my friends were shopping clothes, I was shopping for accessories to decorate my bedroom.

Having lived in Paris and Singapore, how have those destinations influenced your style?

You are right, both cities have influenced my style a lot! 
I like the effortlessly chic Parisian touch when it comes to interior decorating: mixing ages and styles, choosing a neutral colour palette and play with colourful home accessories here and there to add warmth. In Singapore, I like the tropical look and feel and the strong presence of nature all around us. I guess my style is a mix of both cities’ way of living.

To me, a home is a place where friends and family build lasting memories. It should reflect the family’s everyday lifestyle: it should not be a stiff, cold home, but a place of comfort with imperfections in which every member of the family can live happily every day.


 

How has Stylodeco helped create space for you to launch a blog about design?

I launched my online shop, Stylodeco, two years ago and the interest for our products has kept growing dramatically. Yet our clients, mainly active women, have very little time to style their homes. Indeed, it isn’t easy when you have a full-time job or when you look after the family all day long to find time to navigate the web looking for inspiration or shop stylish home furnishings.

That is how the idea of Perfect Imperfect came out: build a 360-degree platform where you can shop home accessories on Stylodeco and find curated inspiration for the home and professional advice on Perfect Imperfect.

What has it been like shifting your focus of online retail to include content? What has been the greatest challenge in this addition?

Perfect imperfect is a natural continuity of Stylodeco. The products, on one hand, the inspiration and advice on the other. One supports the other; in other words, they are complementary. You can connect to Perfect Imperfect from Stylodeco, and vice versa – in one click. Everything you need for the home in a single place.

The greatest challenge has been to build the new blog from scratch while handling day-to-day orders from Stylodeco. Like most women, I have a house to keep running and kids to look after so it can be sometimes challenging to develop new projects. Thankfully, I learnt so much from this new experience and I would do it again without hesitation if I had to.

Home styling can be challenging when you do not know where to find inspiration and where to shop products. With perfect imperfect, home styling is made easy.


 

Perfect Imperfect | Home Styling Made Easy | Travelshopa
Perfect Imperfect Home Styling | Travelshopa

Could you tell us about your sources of inspiration?

Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of inspiration. I also read a lot of magazines, from Singapore and abroad, to look for new brands and stylish designs. And of course, travels do inspire me a lot too.

Why is it important to create a space that supports a family’s everyday lifestyle?

I chose the name ‘Perfect Imperfect’ to name the new blog because I like perfectly imperfect interiors. I like homes to be effortlessly stylish and decorated with taste, whilst at the same time being laid-back and welcoming. There’s no use in creating a “perfect” home that feels more like a museum than a place of comfort. To me, a home is a place where friends and family build lasting memories. It should reflect the family’s everyday lifestyle: it should not be a stiff, cold home, but a place of comfort with imperfections in which every member of the family can live happily every day.

Your ethos is ‘home styling made easy’? What does that mean?

As I said, my clients have little time to look for inspiration and stylish home accessories. So my goal is to help them save their precious time by sharing inspiration and advice in a single place and therefore simplifying the process. Home styling can be challenging when you do not know where to find inspiration and where to shop products. With Perfect Imperfect, home styling is made easy thanks to:

1.

Weekly curated articles to give visitors inspiration on how to transform their house into a stylish and cosy nest that supports their family’s everyday lifestyle.

 

2.

eDesign and interior design services for those who have no time at all and need professional guidance. Time is of the essence, and if you find yourself lacking the time to decorate your home, let me do it for you, it will give you more time to take care of your career or family.

 

3.

Freebies such as stylish printables for the ones who like being creative and do fun projects by themselves (DIY).

 

4.

A direct access to STYLODECO’s e-store to shop stylish home accessories at reasonable prices.

Perfect Imperfect Home Styling | Travelshopa
Perfect Imperfect Home Styling | Travelshopa

Subscribe to Perfect Imperfect‘s newsletter for early access to freebies, a weekly dose of inspiration for the home and styling tips. You can meet Helene Denaiffe and see STYLODECO’s collections at the forthcoming Boutiques at the Pit Building on November 4 and 5, 2016.

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Anna Layard, Guided Art Tours in Yogyakarta

She's one of the most well-known art historians in Singapore, and Anna Layard is not stopping there. As she sets her sights on conquering further shores, the consultant shares her tips on why Indonesia is set to be the 'next big thing'.

Art Tours in Yogyakarta | Anna Layard | Travelshopa

When did you first know you had an interest in art?

I have always had a close affinity with art. Growing up in a very creative household, meant being surrounded by an interesting mix of pieces, and frequently visiting galleries. In fact, I spent my 18th birthday in Florence, transfixed by the art of the Renaissance and the extraordinary architecture.

After studying A-level Art History under an incredibly inspiring teacher called Kate Mason, who ignited what would be my lifelong passion with the phrase “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life!”, I went on to graduate as an Art Historian from Manchester University, and then curated and managed galleries in London and Sydney prior to moving to Singapore in 2009.

Coincidentally, my journey has come full circle, as both my A-level and University studies focused on Indonesian Arts. I never dreamt I would one day be living in South East Asia, let alone being able to share my passion by leading Bespoke Art Collector Tours across Indonesia.

 

HOW HAS WORKING WITH BRANDS LIKE LEND LEASE AND NANDA\HOBBS CONTEMPORARY AND HAVING YOUR OWN ART CONSULTANCY, HELPED PAVE THE WAY TO START ART TOURS? 

All of these experiences have been very important factors. They have given me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients and budgets across the years, to have had exposure to a vast array of global artists, and most importantly given me an insight as to how I can offer a service that is unique within the art scene in Singapore.

I am committed to helping my clients find new and exciting pieces as they create truly global collections across a variety of mediums, and especially including works which resonate within the environment in which they live.  My clients tend to like works that have significance as well as being objects of beauty and interest. The work I saw in Yogya was some of the most exciting and diverse I have seen in recent years and the entry point incredibly accessible for established artists.

 

The work I saw in Yogya was some of the most exciting and diverse I have seen in recent years and the entry point incredibly accessible for established artists.


 

You strongly believe that Indonesian arts will be “the next big thing”. Why is that?

I believe many markets in Asia have become saturated and can be cost prohibitive. Price tags do not necessarily reflect the experience and resumes of the artists, and we often see artists losing their originality to become more commercially viable.

In Yogya (Yogyakarta) I see an integrity, creativity and dialogue within a strong and cohesive collective community. I see amazing artist collectives, initiatives and spaces, supported by incredible art patrons, collectors and philanthropists, all having an impact on the international market. It is a vibrant and inspiring scene with huge potential for the next generation of artists.

Events such as the Biennale, Art Jog, and Art Stage Jakarta (launched in August 2016 and firmly placing Indonesia on the international map) all provide stand out examples of the dynamic energy and diversity that Indonesian Arts are contributing to the world stage.

 

What excites you the most about the art in Yogyakarta?

The range of creativity across multiple disciplines in Yogya, more than any other Indonesian city, has a quiet creativity which honours the traditional and celebrates the avant-garde, progressive, and more controversial arts.

 

What would you like to see change with regard to consumers’ perception and consumption of art?

Art can be an intimidating arena for many and education is key.  In Singapore, many haven’t had the fortune of growing up as gallery goers. I would like to see a greater exposure to a more diverse range of arts.  As the government has also acknowledged the necessity to make art more accessible, I am excited that the upcoming generation will have an appreciation for art in many forms, as well as a desire to acquire pieces that they enjoy and build collections that are diverse. Hopefully, this will create a market here where boundaries can be pushed thus broadening our enjoyment and acceptance of a wider range of art practices, conservative to cutting edge and controversial! We can only grow as consumers if our exposure across the board is broadened.

Could you tell us about your sources of inspiration?

Travel has always been my main source of inspiration. Interacting with artists and discovering their motivation behind the works they create, gives us the opportunity to understand cultural meaning and significance, as well as anchoring a piece of art to a place and time in my life.

I am inspired to run art tours because I particularly love helping clients enjoy that experience too.

 

Having lived in the UK, Australia and now Singapore, how does art appreciation (and preferences) differ from country to country?

In Europe, we are incredibly fortunate to have a wealth of significant art collections that span the ages.

Australian artists, not surprisingly, took great insight from Europe, but geographical isolation also played a part. However, I believe particularly since the 1960’s practices, styles and inspirations for Australian artists have expanded on a global scale and they are creating world class art.

I was amazed to read that in comparison Singapore’s first art museum SAM was only established in 1996. Focus until relatively recently was placed on different areas of academia, and inspiration limited to more SE Asian references Art appreciation isn’t as established and prevalent here yet, but it is catching up fast.  It is a very exciting time for SEA Arts, especially in Singapore where the government is reinforcing its importance at a national level.

 

Describe your personal art collection in three words.

Eclectic, diverse, meaningful

 

Contact Anna to join the forthcoming Guided Art Tour in Yogyakarta with Henny Scott, an Indonesian Art Consultant, on November 15-18 2016   

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