Home of a different kind

Answering the call for a space away from the distractions of home, Sohen has built a welcoming and meditative sanctuary for work, cultural pursuits and entertaining.

  • Home of a different kind

Home Type: Shophouse

Floor Area: 825sqft

Text by Janice Seow

Desiring a home away from home to work and enjoy his personal pursuits, the owner of this shophouse unit in Joo Chiat enlisted the help of Soh Xin Hui from interior design studio Sohen to create a space imbued with all that is domestic and familiar, and that would be uniquely his own.

Shophouse office and gallery

With sensitivity and care, the designer has more than fulfilled the brief – delivering all the functional requirements in a fairly compact space on the upper level of this unit, as well as the atmosphere suitable for the activities that are meant to occur.

“This place is essentially for his own use; an office for him to work and a place for him to unwind and be away from distractions,” says Xin Hui. “It’s a place where he can appreciate his art, listen to music, and occasionally have friends over,” she continues.

Shophouse office and gallery

The space has been functionally divided into an office, a gallery and a hosting space. Despite the challenge to integrate the three different typologies within the long and linear layout, the designer has succeeded by way of subtle design interventions.

The hosting area is set at the front where the designer has created a welcoming and uplifting space as befitting its use as a meditative, almost ceremonial-like area for tea sessions and entertaining. Organic and tactile materials are used to warmly embrace and draw the owner and his guests in, and above, natural light enters through an artificial circular skylight such that the entire space gently glows.

woody interior

“The rounded ‘skylight’ was added to create a focus and demarcate the hosting area within the space,” Xin Hui explains. Curved wall panels that transit to the pantry below are also used to soften the entire area, and so that an unsightly air duct from the first level becomes an integrated part of the design.

art gallery

Further in, the gallery is a place to display and appreciate art. To subtly indicate a ‘new zone’, it begins where the curved edge of the false ceiling ends. Here, a series of curved acoustic partitions serve as canvases to showcase the owner’s collection of art done by past and present Singaporean artists such Chen Wen Hsi and Tan Choh Tee.

Shophouse office and gallery

Among them lies a treasured calligraphy masterpiece done by the client’s own father. Positioned close the office space, the artwork displays two Chinese characters, “自爱” (meaning “self-love”). “To the owner, this simple yet profound phrase serves as a perpetual source of inspiration and guidance – a heartfelt reminder of the importance of self-care and self-appreciation,” notes Xin Hui.

shophouse office

The gallery is also where the owner can enjoy music from his specially imported Bayz Audio “Courante” omni-directional, full range loudspeakers that have been carefully spaced out to attain the best listening position possible. The acoustic panels across the walls also serve to enhance the experience.

art gallery

Here, a combination of natural textures derived from the warm, maple wood and rough grey travertino textured wall create visual balance to please the eye. At the same time, the luxurious-looking large format Breccia floor tiles help to unify the entire space.

Shophouse office and gallery

Having successfully cultivated an atmosphere of calm and woven in all the functional aspects of the brief to suit the activities that the client had envisioned doing in this space, the project was awarded “Best Workspace Design” in Singapore Interior Design Awards 2022 and Design Excellence Award 2022.


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