19 May 2013

Toshiba Aircon 5 in 1

This is a power house. I've been told by the supplier that the 5 in 1 Inverter has only been launched in Singapore a few months ago. For those who do not know, the Inverter technology that you see in most air conditioners today, was invented by Toshiba in the 80s.

This 5 in 1 system is the answer cooling larger apartments. Ideal for Executive Apartments, Executive Maisonettes and 5 Room Flats. For these apartments, the dining and living room space is big and requires 2 A/C units for effective cooling. Now if you have 2 A/C units in the living and dining, then what happens to the 3 bedrooms? In the past, with a 4 in 1 unit, you would either place 3 A/C units in the 3 Bedrooms and 1 A/C unit to cool the living and dining or you would place 2 A/C units in the living Dining 2 A/C units in 2 Bedrooms and 1 window unit for the remaining bedroom.

Or you can do what my friend did. She used a 3 in 1 and 2 in 1 system in the same apartment. (ie 2 aircon compressors.) Now when all the air conditioners are running and she turns on her Oven, the power for the whole house will trip.

So the New Toshiba 5 in 1 is Heaven sent for larger apartments in Singapore.

Oh if I haven't mentioned, we are getting this system for our place. The set up for this monster is BTU 24K + 13K + 13K + 9K + 9K (total output 68K BTU)

15 May 2013

Grohe Ondus Digital - A Bathroom Experience

I flew up to KL a few days ago to re-select materials and fittings for the Penthouse units of a Condo Development we are doing. 

My first stop was the Grohe Showroom. Basically I was there because the developer wants to upgrade the specifications for the Penthouses. Anyway this was the first time I've seen an actually working set of the Grohe Ondus Digital Series that was launched sometime during the end of last year.

For the Digital Shower set, you can basically set your own shower sequence. Ie 2 mins Cascading water at 38 Deg, 1min Spray at 40 Deg, Pause 2 mins (to let you soap up) and 3mins Spray at 36 Deg to rinse. After your setup during your next shower just press play. 

Its really cool but how LAZY can you Get?! I would like to own a set only for the cool factor. However you better make sure you have got deep pockets. We are looking at a low 5 figure sum, thats $$,$$$, for just the shower set. 

Grohe Ondus Digital

Demolition 1st Phase

Finally the Demolition process has started. This is the 1st phase involving mainly floor and wall finishes. We are still awaiting approval for the hacking of the walls and we're keeping our fingers crossed that they approve the removal of the wall in the Master Bedroom which looks into the Yard.

Living Room - Before Demolition

Living Room - During Demolition

Dining Room - Before Demolition

Dining Room - During Demolition

9 May 2013

Houston we have Lift Off - err so I think

Yesterday was the official start of renovation. The contractors were supposed to start hacking works. So during lunch I decided to drop by the site. Guess what.... the first cock up of the project on the first day. When I arrived nothing has started. The Contractor was will waiting for his guys to arrive. 

There is always talk in the office but how there is never a perfect project. Something will go wrong. It does not matter if the project is big or small.

I'm not going to site till Saturday. Don't want to stress myself. I'll let the contractor deal with it first.

Finalising the Lighting for the Apartment

During my meeting with Million Lighting recently, to finalise by lighting selection,Edwin Strongly recommended (to the point of insisting) that I use Flos wall washers for my walls.

FLOS - Pure 2 (wall washer)
In order to convince me he got one of his lighting designers to do a lighting simulation for me. 

Wall Washer Effect without Dining Light

Wall Washer Effect with Dining Light
The lights are currently being flown in from Europe as they don't have enough stock here. There is however a problem with this light. The light as a built in Potential Meter. What that means is that the light fitting can be dimmed individually. Ie I can can have 4 lights on one track and all 4 have different lighting intensity (This is normally used especially in museums). How is this a problem you might say. Well, it's because the apartment lights will all be linked up using the MK Astral Z-Wave automation switches. If the light has a built-in Potential Meter then I can't use it with a Dimmer Switch. Ie I can't dim the lights at a touch of a button. I have to go to the light fitting and physically dim them one by one. Well I guess what I can do is set the lighting levels for these wall washer and just let them be.

6 April 2013

Last piece of the puzzle

Finally we've designed the last major piece of the puzzle. The common bathroom is done. Main issue for this bathroom apart from a stupid sanitary pipe that runs across the entire length of the ceiling is that this bathroom is long and narrow. 3.1m x 1.3. The length is not so much of an issue rather its the 1.3m width that is cause for concern. The ideal minimum size of a bathroom that I would allow myself to design would be 1.6m x 2.4m. Maybe in the past Singaporeans were smaller and sanitary fittings came in Miniature sizes.


View 1

View from shower
What we have done here is place a 1.4m wide,  floor to ceiling mirror behind the vanity counter to expand the space visually. In addition we have added a false ceiling to hide the sanitary pipes above.

27 March 2013

The Apartment

We are running down to the handover date of the apartment which is in less than a month's time. I'm still trying to get the construction drawings done. It's taking a lot longer then expected cos 1. don't have anyone doing the drawings for me, 2. its our first home, therefore a lot of care was making sure everything is right & 3. This apartment is going to be scrutinised by most people because of the nature of  my profession, the firm I work for and my position in the firm. 

This is a little preview of the things to come. Think the design has come to a point where it's refined enough in terms of function, proportion and intent. At the end of the day one has to remember that it's a home. Its the family, friends and memories that are the most important. The design of the apartment is just simply put, to make life easier. The one guiding design factor above all else is that the apartment revolves around us not us around the apartment. :)

Living Room

Staircase Landing

View out from Study Room

Master Bedroom

24 March 2013

Lighting Layout

On Friday, the guys at Million Lighting got back to us on their lighting fitting selection. I gave them some specific directions and left the rest up to them.  My instructions where more functional than aesthetic. 

1. "I don't have a lot of space within the false ceiling so the downlights that you specify has to be shallow. But at the same time I can't afford ERCO."

2. "I don't want to see the glare from the downlights."

3. "I want that Artemide floor lamp, you know that one with the flip up lamp shade, for the living room."

4. "I want that Skinny Artemide pendant light for the study. That one that's about 1.2/ 1.5m long and with a really slim profile. You know which one I'm taking about right?"

5. "The downlights in the bathroom has to be IP rated. I need a minimum of IP 64. IP 65 would be ideal."  

Lower floor plan

Upper floor Plan

After looking at the selection I thought to myself these fittings are really nice. They know how to specify the nice looking fittings for me. Only to realise that yes it's nice cos they specified Artemide downlight & Artemide track lights. Now I wonder how much it's gonna cost. 

17 March 2013

Linked Hinge

Simonswerk Tectus Concealed Hinges

I've been Missing In Action for sometime now and neglected the blog. Work has taken precedence over the last few week. Furthermore, I've been rushing to complete the construction drawings for the apartment. We intend to call for quotations by the end of the month. However, more importantly I have to lock in the design so that we can purchase tiles, fitting etc. Unfortunately every thing is linked. Cost, Design, Construction Details, Fitting Section etc...

I've finally decided to use a Concealed Link Hinge for all the doors. So that I can create a flush surface for all the doors and not have any protruding door frames. Its going to be neater than a pivot hinge door but cost more as well. 

27 January 2013

Work in Progress - Kitchen Preview

This is after a few rounds of revisions. One thing was very clear from the start. Belynda wanted an Island Counter to have people sit around and I just wanted a sense of space. So... here it is. There are a lot of ideas for neat tricks but you guys have to wait until its completed to see it. Lots of things are hidden. The kitchen will end up being a domestic Transformer Toy. 

Inspiration for Small Apartments

Cool ideas for a small apartment. However, do note that integrating all these ideas into a small space is not cheap and the more moving parts you have the higher chance of it breaking down. 

Nonetheless, a efficient use of space. The logic goes that you can't be having dinner and sleeping at the same time so one of these spaces are redundant at any one time. 

24 January 2013

OMG thats Cool - Sink Counter

Hot off the press. Received a newsletter from the guys at Rexa Design is morning. Met up with them last year during a trip to Italy. 

This is worth sharing. Check it out. Concept derived from an old carpenter's work bench.

Rexa Design - Spa by Giovanni Busetti


Initial Master Toilet Concept

Some time back I gave some thought to the master toilet. The point of departure was to make the toilet as efficient as possible and whether we could do a separated sink area. Well, its not that we really required a super efficient toilet, we have 3 in the apartment, but it was more a design exercise for me. 

So after a bit of doodling, I came up with this idea to have a pivot door that can separate the sink area from the WC & Shower. That means if I'm in the shower, the wife can still use the sink to brush her teeth etc.. while maintaining privacy on my end of the bathroom.

Well just an idea.


I fear that the house will end-up looking too finished, too precise, too designed. I've seen some really nice apartments own and design by Designers & Architects themselves. Proportions perfect, junctions properly terminated, superfluous details, materials carefully chosen with a collection of designer furniture. The only thing lacking is soul. On one extreme it could turn out like an Armani Hotel. 

Armani Hotel - Dubai

The other extreme would be a collection of Stuff with lots of stories and character.
Balzac Brasserie - Singapore

Or maybe the middle ground would be Christian Liaigre. His work is precise, well thought out proportions but with soul. 
Christian Liaigre's Paris Apartment

Christian Liaigre's Paris Apartment
One can argue that it's the loose objects that you put in a space that brings about the sense of "Soul". Well we all have to wait and see how it turns out.

22 January 2013

Cold Day Out - Part 2

Went on-line to check out the spacing required for the fridges. Most lower to mid-end fridges have their heat exchanger either on the side or the back. Thus, they require more space around the sides and back for ventilation.  

The Samsung Fridges require a 50mm gap all round. Actually most fridges require that amount of space. 

Samsung Plan View - Required Clearances

This is pretty standard, unless ...... you get higher end fridges like Sub-Zero, Gaggenau etc.. These have ventilation slots either at the top or bottom of the fridge. Perfect for a built-in situations. One mid-high end alternative would be Bosch. I checked out the Bosch Kan 58A45 - Width 900mm. (Cost $3,399 @ Courts) 4 Tick energy rating compared to Samsung's 3 Ticks

Bosch Kan 58A45
The good thing about the Bosch Fridge is that it has the water/ ice dispenser and the ventilation is at the bottom. That means I can have an almost gapless installation for the fridge.

Bosch Plan View - Required Clearances
If we go for the Bosch Fridge, I would have to find some way to gain 3cm. It might seem like a small amount but when the space is designed millimeter prefect, it's a problem.

21 January 2013

Cold Day Out - Part 1

Went for coffee over the wet and cold weekend and decided to pop into Courts to have a look at some fridges. As you guys already know we’ve been pre-selecting kitchen equipment very early in the project. Some people tend to keep it to the last.

You have got to select these things early because most of them are built-in. You need to get your sizes right to make decisions especially in a tight kitchen setup. (Evermore so for the tiny apartments in Singapore.)

Saw the Samsung Fridges and short listed the 2 sexiest! If sexy had a new name it would be Samsung. 

Samsung RN405BRKASL-SS
This one is nice and slim and would definitely fit into the space I’ve allocated. What we liked about this is how simple it looks with no protruding handles and the finish is to die for. You have to see and feel this finish. The Stainless Steel rocks.

We looked at another Samsung fridge. Nice Stainless Steel finish too and like the other fridge, the edges are angular rather than rounded like most fridges. It’s also a nice size and has a water dispenser + ice dispenser (Lazy Man's Fridge). The only down side is its size.  I may not have enough space to house it. Whats really nice too is the flushed handles.

15 January 2013

Air Division Sale

2 weekends ago we popped by Air Division because we saw an ad in the papers of a sale at Air Division. Now, my friends know that I'm all for Value for Money and where do you get better Value is obviously at a Sale. I should have figured out earlier that most retail store draw you in with a "Sale" and you end up buying non sale items.

The sale items weren't that great. Instead what caught my wife's eye were 2 floor lamps. 

Wife: pointing towards the direction of the floor lamp "That lamp is quite nice. Looks industrial. Can we have that in the house?".

Me: response in my head was "Die. ARTEMIDE  lamp. Ex!" the words I spoke were "Yap that's nice, its from ARTEMIDE... its probably over a Thousand Dollars. Why don't you have a look at the price tag."

Well she checks out the price tag ($1,200 ish) and says she likes it because it feels kinda industrial and told me maybe we could get a similar light to this. 

5 mins later we walk to another side of the showroom. 

Wife: "This one is nicer. I like actually prefer this one over the other one." pointing to another floor standing lamp.

Me: response in my head was "Alamak! pick out another ARTEMIDE light". My words to her was "Its also from ARTEMIDE, just as expensive but this one is cooler. you can actually rotate the lamp shade to face it upwards."

Honestly, I am a fan of ARTEMIDE lights. I won't mind getting one but guess we have wait to see how the overall construction cost pans out. If we have some excess then maybe.

These are the 2 lights she pointed out. I've used the Artemide - Melampo (Table Lamp) before and I really like the Champagne coloured version a lot. (Artemide calls the colour Bronze)

Artemide - Tolomeo Mega Terra Floor Lamp
Artemide - Melampo (Floor Lamp)

14 January 2013

Kitchen Equipment - Bosch Black Series

I was talking to one of the Firm's partners last night about what Kitchen Equipment they are getting. (Side note: The Firm's 2 partners are also Husband & Wife and they are currently re-building their Semi-D.) Anyway they are getting the Bosch Black Edition. Now that's hot (I love you Paris). 

Bosch Black Edition - Hob

Bosch Black Edition - Oven

Well if you got the budget I say go for it. I guess they had to do it to tie in their concept, whereby their whole kitchen cum dining area is in black/ charcoal grey. 

Anyway I think Bosch is a good buy. Some of you guys may not know but Gaggenau is under the Bosch Group. I am sure they share the similar technology and manufacturing systems. 

13 January 2013

Hunting for Kitchen Equipment

Went to the TEKA showroom over the weekend. Haven't had any dealings with TEKA before. Just thought we would pop by the UE Sq showroom since we were around the area. Made a prelim selection so that I could get a better idea on costing for the kitchen equipment.

We did not purchased anything yet but my wife is pretty cool with the selection. Don't know how reliable the Brand is although its been around for awhile. I think the bottom line for me is that its decent looking and its within the budget set aside. 

The only thing that really stands out for me is the Hob. Frameless Black Glass, Matt Black Cast Iron Grids and  best of all Matt Black Knobs. Designers are suckers for the details. It's really really sexy. 

Its really hard to get all sexy items from a single brand ie. Bosch has a really nice range hood, Electrolux has a really oven. 
But I don't know if i should mix and match. more inclined to get everything from the same manufacturer. Much cleaner. 

Things to look out for before buying a place

    Source: www.afterimage.com
    Wall water marks on wall with damage to the plastering.

If there is one thing I look out for when buying an apartment would be Water Leakage. Sorting out a water leakage issue could be costly.   

Some times you got to be suspicious when you see a patch with a fresh coat of paint. When I see things like that I normally touch the surface of the wall to feel if it's damp. 

So far the place our place looks pretty ok.

For some other areas to look out for would be in the toilet tiled area and especially near the windows. 

    Source: www.shinynewmachine.com
    Notice stain marks coming from the grouting area. Normally to solve this problem will require hacking the tiles. 

The worst kind is the one in the picture below. Bubbling of the paint work. Even bubbling normally is a result of water swelling between the wall and paint. Uneven bubbling like the one below is a result of moisture and mold. Mold is not good. Can't image this happening in a home with young children. 

    Source: www.moldknowledge.com

11 January 2013

James Turrell - Music Room

    James Turrell - Spread

I've been a fan of James Turrell's work for some time and have had the opportunity to experience some of his work in person. My first encounter was many years ago when I was still studying Architecture at the University of Melbourne. The second and most recent time was during my holiday with my wife to Los Angeles. 

His work is so spatial and atmospheric. I would even say that it's spaceless as the light blurs the boundaries of the room housing the work. There is a strange sense of calm, a certain dream state. 

I've always wanted to do a James Turrell music room. Can you image the space or the lack of it with music playing in the background. Its almost like floating into the clouds there time stands still. Question now is how do you pull it off. 

    James Turrell - Skyspace

9 January 2013

House Measurements Final Part - Things to look out for

    Source: www.mocoloco.com

HDB plans don't show very much information apart from the location of walls, columns, doors, windows and sanitary fittings. You will only know more of the constraints when you visit your apartment.

There are a few things that I look out for when taking stock of the site prior to designing. The 3 basic things are the location and clearance of the beam, Sanitary Pipes, Floor Traps. 

BEAMS - This is important because you need to know whether you can place a full height wardrobe there. Can you image during construction you realise that your part of your wardrobe sit under a beam. You will end up with half your wardrobe full height and the other half ... well you get the picture. 

There was one project I did where by we designed everything, about to start construction, and the Client's Feng Sui guy came in and said the bed cannot sit under a beam. Guess what we had to re-layout the master bedroom & bathroom. Thanks for letting us know at the last minute Feng Sui Guy. I've got a bone to pick with these Feng Sui guys but I'll leave my 2 cents worth for another day.

                                       Source: www.diychatroom.com

PIPES - Pipes are a bane especially in HDB flats. Technically you can't conceal them. Logic is that they need to be accessible in case there is a choke or leakage. You can box them up but with access panels. So in order to box them up and have it integrated into the design you will need the size and location of these pipes. If not the box up will end up looking like an after thought.

                                                      Source: www.storematerial.blogspot.sg

Foor Traps - Its really simple. If you want to do a re-layout of the Kitchen & Bathroom Sink etc... You need to know where the floor trap is. This will help you make a decision if it's possible to link up your sinks to the location of the existing floor trap. 

House Measurement Part 2b - BAD HDB

Source: Neufert 13th Edition

If anyone from HDB is reading this Blog. Please feel free to print out a copy of this space planning guide for bathrooms. Please note that dimensions are in Cm. Don't screw up again thinking its in Inches.

House Measurement Part 2a - Bad HDB

Plans of our Master Toilet

I don't understand why HDB can't do a simple decent layout. Its not an issue with a lack of space. There is sufficient space to do a proper efficient layout. Even if we want to fix HDB mistakes now, we are still governed by the predetermined and fixed location of the floor trap, sewage stack (vertical pipe) and cored location of the WC. Bad HDB Bad.

I've spent some time over the weekend working out several options and feel this works for us.