One way Singapore proves its mettle as a cosmopolitan city is by drawing inspiration from around the world and mixing elements of the old world with modern influences. According to Marie-Helene Piederiet, co-owner of Indian antique furniture store the Past Perfect Collection, mixing and matching different styles and eras has never been more popular. “Antique pieces can work well against a modern styled room, creating depth with contrasting elements. Similarly, pretty much any piece of antique furniture can be given a new lease of life with just some modern re-upholstery. You can use your creativity to combine two different styles of design and eventually have your home looking reinvented and fashionable,” she says. Interested in creating your own eclectic living environment? Get inspiration and antique-buying tips (as well as prices, which are typically only available on application) from the following establishments.
Founded by Anthony Lee more than 30 years ago, Just Anthony maintains a fine collection of antiques from the Shianxi and Teochew provinces that are well suited for big spaces. Lee continues to spend much of his time in China hunting for prized dynasty pieces and overseeing restoration works at a factory in Guangzhou. At his shop, you can find stone statues, horse shoe chairs, marble chests and even panels from what used to be giant palace doors. “My father occasionally uncovers pieces that are in such perfect condition, they don’t need any restoration work at all,” says his daughter Danielle Lee, who also runs the store.
Look out for: Beautiful handpainted silk wall coverings illustrating classic Chinese landscapes ($340).
Where it’s at: 379 Upper Paya Lebar Rd., 6283-4782.
Japan’s long history of isolation makes for some truly unique designs. Reflecting the simple aesthetic beliefs of Japanese artisans, the gallery showcases furniture as well as ceramic and lacquer accessories that fit perfectly with modern living environments. In keeping with the sensitive way in which the Japanese portray their culture, be it the way they display the obi (a sash used in traditional Japanese dress) or set the dining table, Akemi also offers a complimentary service to advise you on the right way to match and present accessories and furniture.
Look out for: A katana tansu (storage unit) used in the homes of warriors for keeping sword blades.
Where it’s at: #02-06 Tanglin Shopping Center, 19 Tanglin Rd., 6735-6315.
Learn how to care for your antiques
Australian expat Anna Lockett was living in Hong Kong in the 80s when her passion for antique Chinese furniture first took hold. Today, she continues to go on regular buying trips to China with her son Doug in search of beautifully crafted works up to 200 years old. While Lockett prides herself on maintaining the original finishes of the furniture as much as possible, she’s willing to occasionally modify pieces in order to keep them relevant for modern living spaces. Here, you can find intricately carved and painted wooden screens and other rustic furniture options.
Look out for: A 100-year-old red lacquer trunk from Shanxi province.
Where it’s at: #01-08 Citilink Warehouse Complex, 102E Pasir Panjang Rd.,
House of Huanghuali
Named after a type of rosewood commonly used in ancient China to make chests and cupboards, the House of Huanghuali recently moved out of its space in Alexandra, bringing with it a collection of antique furniture that at first glance, looks just like any other in Singapore. What draws us back here however, is their selection of eccentric paintings as well as sculptures and tribal masks originating from the Northern Wei period and the Qing Dynasty.
Look out for: Light rosewood chair meant for the “official hats” of the kingdom.
Where it’s at: #01-08/09/10, Blk. 1001 Jalan Bukit Merah, 6733-5843.
Entrepreneur Kalay R. has stocked her gallery with original period furniture from Southern India, showcasing exquisite teak and rosewood surfaces on classic items like the traditional marital four poster bed. Admirers of the Maharajah’s impeccable taste can select from a range of age-old pieces such as pillars, cupboards, desks and chairs in bronze, brass and granite accents. With her experience in resort-style furnishing, Kalay is also able to tailor your buys for your home.
Look out for: A swing made of rosewood, said to signify a state of bliss and detachment from everyday concerns.
Where it’s at: #03-01 Tagore Bldg., 6 Tagore Dr., 9067-3672.
Past Perfect Collection
Owners Pieter Van Houten and Marie-Helene Piederiet lived in India for five years, giving them valuable insight into the period-style furniture they stock in the gallery, which ranges from romantic Indo-Portuguese to Dutch colonial style pieces. The antiques are typically made of hardwoods such as rosewood, mahogany, teakwood, satinwood and ebony, and display intricate carvings that make them the talking point of any living room.
Look out for: An Anglo-Indian ivory and rosewood dressing box circa 1880s ($3750).
Where it’s at: 480 River Valley Rd., 6737-3078.
Caring for your antiques
- Refrain from storing your furniture in a damp room like the basement. Maintain constant temperature and use a dehumidifier.
- Sunlight can turn a clear finish yellow even without direct exposure. Apply a UV-filtering film on your windows.
- Termites and wood beetles are a collector’s biggest nemesis. Pay for professional fumigation as often as possible.
- • Avoid surface damage by using coasters, mats and trivets, and preventing direct contact with very hot or cold items.
- Use a good quality paste wax to wax the wood. Don’t use typical lemon oil solutions like Pledge because they leave a residue. [TOP]