Designer, founder and principal of TE-EL Ethan Lim creates an inviting retreat from the helter-skelter of Singaporean life.
21 June 2021
Home Type: Condo
Floor Area: 1,576sqft
Text by Yvonne Xu
Photography by Studio Periphery
Visiting this home in Singapore’s Ang Mo Kio suburb with its designer is a lesson in craft and in crafting a mood. Ethan Lin, principal of TE-EL, has put textures and patterns, both natural and designed, to work with controlled proportions, achieving composed, tactile and intimate mise en scènes throughout the 1,576-square-foot apartment.
The apartment is in a low-rise condominium block and belongs to two working professionals who have just become first-time parents. Ethan worked to make the apartment an antidote to the helter-skelter of the young family’s life. “When you come home you should feel comfortable – this is the most important. There should be subtlety, a muted palette… very easy on the eye,” says the designer.
A trio of Lenticchia from Viabizzuno suspend as luminous discs over the grain of the dining table, which is framed by six Ton 30 chairs.
The strategy sounds simple enough, but at work behind this atmosphere of relaxation and comfort is a set of precise specifications – an optimal 30-centimetre rise of the coffee table top measured from the seat on the floor, a 35-centimetre profile in the door frames, a 90-centimetre distance for people sitting across at dinner. Ethan even noted how the houseplants on the terrace were picked to match the foliage of the treescape outside.
Every inch of the home has its raison d’être. Of the Grandemare sofa from Flexform, Ethan says, “The sofa is 1.1-metres-deep and it is quite unusual, but it aligns with the idea of the house the clients want. This is not a big landed house where you have guest areas and a home theatre room so we want this space to have quite a strong loungey feel to it. That’s why I chose a deep sofa.
Behind this atmosphere of relaxation and comfort is a set of precise specifications.
“Friends can sit around, have a potluck here, or a child can do homework,” he adds. The low coffee table, made out of solid ash by local artisan Maker and Wolves, was sanded and torched in traditional Yakisugi technique. Grains appear and are carbonised to deep black, with the most wonderful blue-purple undertones that contrast the paler shades in immediate neighbours of sofa and braided rug.
Ethan also selected design classics, masterpieces by Philipp Mainzer, Isamu Noguchi, Charlotte Perriand, and Peter Zumthor that each offer themselves quietly around the house. A trio of Lenticchia from light maker Viabizzuno suspend as luminous discs over the grain of the dining table, which is framed by six Ton no 30 Armchairs. The entire composition, back dropped by the monolithic stone island of the kitchen, is set at an angle, following the slant of the wall.
TE-EL has put textures and patterns, both natural and designed, to work with controlled proportions, achieving composed, tactile and intimate mise en scenes.
Ethan has a keen understanding of every weave, grain, and striation in the home. Of the light-diffusing glass pendants created by Zumthor, he tells me, “He frosted it both inside and outside so they have quite a soft glow.”
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