We’ve always doubted the truth behind Sentosa Cove being the “world’s most desirable address”. Wouldn’t anyone? Alas, Co-owner of The Shophouse – Jamie Gorman’s beautiful Sentosa Cove apartment almost manages to convince us otherwise. Spotless and immaculate, sunlight bathes the home in a luminous glow. Outfitted with a few of The Shophouse’s furniture and soft furnishings, the choice of interiors presents a sophisticated mix of cool and warm tones – the cool greys and inky blues perfectly balancing the warm honeyed notes of the walnut leather and dark brown furniture. As our gaze circles the room and lands on the lithe form of the octopus that hangs on the wall, we are reminded simultaneously of the deep-water calm and still waters of the marina that lies in sight, mere meters away from the outdoor patio.
We first came across The Shophouse when we named Tan Boon Liat Singapore’s Rising Furniture Hub. Then, in January 2013, we recommended The Shophouse be on the shopping map of anyone in the need of stylish furniture and home furnishings. Under the creative direction of Jamie Gorman, The Shophouse has come along way, and offers more than a broad range of furniture and home decor to some of Singapore’s most stylish homes.
Jamie, a true-blue Sydney-sider, has grown accustomed to living by the water. After some time running Filthy Lucre, a clothing and homewares boutique on Oxford Street, Sydney, Jamie realised that he loved the interior side of the business more than fashion. He made the change, and started full-time study at the International School of Colour and Design, Sydney and his own design practice called ‘Inner Space’ from his home in Rose Bay, Sydney. Leaving behind his fashion upbringing to pursue his instincts and passion in interior design proved the right choice when the DIY renovation of his home turned out a success.
Since first arriving in Singapore in January 2010, a long way from his childhood home in The Southern Highlands, just south of Sydney, Jamie Gorman has cleverly applied his technical training to suit the tropical lifestyle of the Singapore dweller.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE SHOPHOUSE.
I was the ‘trailing spouse’ when we moved to Singapore in early 2010, but after six months I was itching to get into creative design work. I joined The Shophouse and then a year later, bought into the business. I wanted to project the strong roots it had established for Asian-inspired and both locally and regionally sourced furniture, but also bring in a more contemporary look. I could sense that Singapore’s expat community was changing and so The Shophouse needed to keep up with these trends.
Most of the furniture was dark, stained teak and very heavy and basic design. I was very aware that the market was drowning in that type of furniture. When I first took over as head designer, I moved quickly to find new suppliers and designs that would complement our traditional range. It was a transition rather than transformation and now we sell very little teak. I think people don’t want a single style anymore. They want colour, they want vibrancy, and they want furniture to reflect their lives – not define it. I try to show that different styles and materials can really work with their existing choice of furniture. The role of a designer is to balance a sense of what they like with what is inclusive to the style and taste of their clients. We don’t want to impose our style or do something radical. After all, our vision is to change your life, one room at a time.
We used to have a large store at Gilman Village that was rezoned in 2010, forcing us to move into several locations. Fortunately, in 2012 we found a new showroom at 315 Outram Road (next to the Holiday Inn at River Valley) that could house our full business. We progressively consolidated all the business into the current showroom on level 7 of the Tan Boon Liat Building. It’s very centrally located and has a great warehouse style feel to show off the furniture. Moreover it has plenty of parking! We like to say it’s your one stop shophouse.
A DAY IN THE LIFE.
As with any furniture and design business, some pieces take a few months to hit the showroom floor, so it’s sometimes a waiting game to know if my choice was the right one. As a result, I am constantly challenging myself about the choice of products, how it’s ranged and how pieces from different suppliers can complement each other. I am really fortunate to have a passionate team of seven sales and design professionals. I just love working with my team, but also very proud of the passion they have for our clients. We think that service is one of our defining features and we’re always striving to delight our clients.
INTRODUCING IN-HOUSE INTERIOR DESIGN AND STYLING SERVICES.
It started out with people asking for our advice on a casual basis. They wanted to buy something from our store that would complement their existing furniture or even something they might be considering from another store. So increasingly, people wanted a full design service. In terms of what we now offer, I mostly do projects or styling makeovers that enable me to use the skills that I have obtained and my experience as an expat here in Singapore. One key feature of The Shophouse is that we are constantly sourcing products from different international suppliers, local producers and designing the pieces from my own collection. That way we can complete a job with a wide range of options and gives me a very wide scope to complete the design for the client. Naturally I would prefer to source everything from my store, but, just like my own home, it’s a mixture of furniture and furnishings from many other stores.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SHOPHOUSE.
We are really excited for the new range of exclusive hand-thrown ceramic tableware and accessories which we discovered in Ubud while holidaying in Bali earlier this year. The ceramist doing this for us also supplies the Amman, Bulgari and Four Seasons resorts and they are creating something exclusive to The Shophouse. We hope our clients will love them as much as we do.
FINDING CREATIVE INSPIRATION.
A designer can seldom stop looking at what’s around them, so I make the most of it, especially when travelling for work or holidays. One thing that really inspires me is the feeling of walking into the lobby and common areas of 5 star hotels. I am like a kid in a candy store. This is where you get to see where other designers have tried to bring unique elements into some complete design story. Even the smallest detail can inspire me with how it comes to life. It can be showy and over the top in isolation, but when paired with some more subtle elements and put in the right setting it can transform into something stunning. Much of this experience I take into how I work with clients. I am not looking for a ‘wow factor’. What I am talking about is creating a space that makes the client feel at ease and relaxed but also have an elegance about it.
OTHER INSPIRING CREATIVES.
Distillery Studio here in Singapore. Paul Semple and Matthew Shang oversee such an exciting and creative design practice creating beautifully fresh designed spaces from hotel, bars, restaurants and retail stores. Since meeting them upon arriving in Singapore they have both become good friends.
DREAM CREATIVE PROJECT.
Doing a complete turn-key project for someone’s holiday or residential hometown down to every aspect from furniture to linen to flowers.