Darker than the ocean
Deeper than the sea
861 sqft ︱ Dark Minimalist
When interior designers, Jessica and Cher, first met homeowner and bachelor, Ben, he’d been wearing a fresh white shirt, a pair of black trousers, a pair of dark-brown Ferragamo leather shoes, and accessorised simply with a sharp Swiss-made watch. Later, the team noticed on a few occasions that he’d be wearing the same outfit – simple, clean, yet discerning of quality. When asked about his outfit choice, he explained that he has several of the same clothing on rotation - 6 pieces of the same white shirts in fact. For Ben, it makes for one less thing to think about in the morning allowing him more time and energy to what really matters to him. It was aligned with what he’d told the team during the first briefing – that he did not have much personal belongings and had little storage requirements. Later when he’d moved in, all of his belongings fit into only 5 carton boxes sized 60x40cm each, and 2 of them contained items for his 4-year old Scottish Fold Munchkin.
“Understanding my clients and what drives them is imperative to creating a home that reflects their core identity and lifestyle. With Ben, we realised that his lifestyle would be suited to a minimalist concept characterised by simplicity, clean lines, and a monochromatic palette,” says Jessica.
Ben’s initial interior brief was true to his being – simple. He had just a few requests – a dark aesthetic, a unique tv feature wall, walls a shade of grey, and pet-friendly furnishing. As with most homeowners with new developments, he asked if the team could work with the original flooring - glossy beige marble flooring in the living area and the light oak vinyl in the bedrooms. While he had listed these requests, he emphasized that he would be keeping an open-mind and gave the team free-reign to design.
The designers eventually came back with a proposal to overlay vinyl on the flooring, clad all walls, substantially make use of atmospheric lighting , and custom-make major furnishing such as the sofa and bed frame. With the realistic 3D renders presented, Ben was able visualise the whole space clearly and that convinced him to go ahead with a more extensive renovation.
3D renders presented to the homeowner
While the team aimed to push design boundaries, they were determined to work with most of the existing build. In order to retain most of the developer’s provisions, the team used innovative materials that could modify or conceal existing elements without tempering much with their foundation. For example, a one-way mirrored film was installed on the original glass panel between the living and kitchen concealing the semi-opened kitchen. With that film, the glass now looks like a mirrored surface from the living room. Original interior doors and some cabinets were also kept intact and cladded over with heavy-duty vinyl sticker or stucco texture paint to make them look concealed.
The designers used a lot of black in the texture paint, stainless steel, tinted mirrors and glass, and furnishing and styling. Black plays a pivotal role in muting and minimising visual distractions so people feel almost enveloped in the interior. For most, it might not feel like such a dark interior could be a comfortable home but for Ben, it is exactly his idea of tranquillity. Ben had briefly revealed that back in his family home, even with a set of track lights with 3 spotlights in his 90sqft room, he’d remove 1 of them tilted the other 2 towards the wall to reduce direct illumination. “We usually take time to understand our clients’ psyche throughout the design process. It’s something he said in passing when we asked him about his previous living experience, it pointed towards the desire for a darker space with indirect lighting,” explains Cher.
While the team layered various materials with black accents and subtle textures, they’d purposefully eliminated high contrast textures such as wood grains and stone so that visually the elements looked consistently linear, achieving a clean and minimalistic aesthetic. The focus was on meticulous attention to detail across the space rather than an isolated feature that screams for attention. The creative direction deeply reflects Ben as an individual – someone who is minimalistic, consistent, meticulous, prefers to move under-the-radar, and has a great depth of character.
When day turns to night, the apartment is transformed into a scene from the future with an array of atmospheric lights which was non-negotiable for this project. A variation of mystic blue, warm white, and cool white lighting allow for different activities and moods. The play of light casted on the metallic and reflective surfaces bring forth the subtleties of their textures, silhouette and reflection from the deep shadows, and sculpt defining outlines.
“Some might find it odd or somewhat fiendish, but we drew inspiration from the popular science-fiction TV series, Westworld, specifically the diagnostic lab where the automatons were built and tested, when we were curating each lighting scene," says Cher. Ben, as the team knew by now, is a tech-enthusiast who was particularly excited about incorporating futurism into the interior. Additionally, the team also suggested that the home be heavily smart-home enabled – all his lights and some appliances such as air-conditioning can be controlled via his phone.
It was challenging sourcing for all-black furnishings that were a good balance of aesthetic and functionality. Eventually, after a few rounds of shopping together, Ben realised the value in investing in a few custom-made pieces. The low-profile sofa, with its distinct angular silhouette, looks perfect for the minimalist and futuristic interior, and its pet-friendly fabric can withstand scratches, stains, and odours. The team also recommended for the same fabric to be used for the bed frame and the wall-to-wall bedhead feature ensuring consistency in different areas. It’s good to note that with fur kids and dark interiors, regular maintenance is inevitable.
Décor was kept minimal with only a few statement pieces including Estiluz Canut wall lamp, Fatboy Tjoepke table lamp, and Skull Bowl from Buster + Punch & Travis Barker collection. The 2 art pieces displayed at the passageway and study room were co-created by the two designers and Ben. “We suggested for an art jamming session with Ben and we were really happy with the outcome. We like to personally work on custom art pieces for our clients and their homes. Having the opportunity to collaborate with Ben on the art pieces now hanging on the walls of his home makes the whole experience even more meaningful for us and for the homeowners themselves," Jessica concludes.