Fiery Fortress

You certainly can’t miss the iridescent fire engine red of the aptly named red dot Traffic building along Maxwell Road. The building, which was vacant from 1999 till the end of 2005, has been recently refurbished and repackaged into a lifestyle hub, replete with a museum cum exhibition space dubbed the red dot Museum, restaurants, bars, a yoga studio and many creative agencies.
The space is bustling. There have been numerous activities taking place inside the building since it was inaugurated in November last year—including the Motorola SUPER-Style Mix, the mammoth celebration of art, style and fashion; the Calvin Klein Spring/Summer 2006 Fashion Show; and the red dot Award Night, when creative design works were celebrated and awarded. Lined up for the busy space this year are events by Rolls Royce, Nokia, LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts, fashion label Coach, and the much anticipated MAAD (Market for Artists and Designers)—a weekly Sunday gig showcasing artworks by, you guessed it, local artists and designers. Indeed, the red dot Traffic building is fast establishing itself as one of the city’s fastest rising arts and creative hubs.
“Our vision is to create a critical mass of creative businesses—anchored by the red dot Museum—in one single location, resulting in a traffic of talents, ideas, events and collaboration relating to design and other creative industries,” says Carrie Lim, marketing manager of red dot Traffic. “With the capacity to host large-scale events, we are one of the most coveted venues for both private and public events. It wants to be that magnet that brings designers together, and the glue that binds the various elements necessary to create a vibrant creative community.”
Certainly, the red dot Traffic building is a burgeoning lifestyle hub. We check out what makes the place tick with its many creative tenants, and why the bars and restaurants there are worth visiting.
Traffic Jam
One of the first few tenants to move into red dot, Style Asia, founded by the stylish Hideki Akiyoshi, is just one of the many creative agencies and events companies that have moved into the building since November. Akiyoshi has held many events here, most notably the Motorola SUPER-Style Mix, which lasted for two weeks and incorporated many fashion shows, art exhibitions and music performances that raised the bar for the local creative scene. “Our business has always been about creating style … and finding a good space is important,” says Akiyoshi. “red dot has a good mix of the old and new worlds, and it doesn’t come with the usual square offices associated with other working spaces.”
Another events company, Lumina Communications, whose clients include luxury fashion brands Hermes, Burberry, Ermegenildo Zegna, Swarovski and Prada, will also be moving into red dot within the next month.
Lumina is currently based in Henderson Industrial Park, and Managing Director David See finds that “the location, coupled with its new identity as a design-focused venue,” as its main draw. See adds: “As an events production and design agency with a strong creative and professional standpoint, we wanted a place which could communicate these elements and represent the creative side of our business, and we found it here.” And together with the need for a bigger space for sister company Communications DNA, See also quotes the potential for red dot to be an all-encompassing creative hub as the main reason they’re moving in.
Ditto Cre8 Singapore, a graphic design and print company. A huge factor for them is “it is conveniently located in the prime financial district, and many of my clients are in the CBD area,” says Account Director Steve Ng. The locale, of course, is an extremely attractive motive, as it doubles up in accessibility and as a melting pot for business opportunities. Ng is hopeful about the future as he applauds the building management in being very successful in hosting a number of distinctive events. He quips: “Well, Traffic brings more traffic.”
Eat, Drink and Relax
Certainly, red dot’s appeal lies in more than just its creative tenants. It also houses a slew of stylish bars, restaurants and spas. First up: the bar Artery (#01-04 red dot Traffic building, 28 Maxwell Rd. 6327-4820), which boasts an elongated rectangular and clean-cut layout atypical of most bars. The wine and drink counter rests on one side of the bar, while comfy red suede-like sofas line the other. “Artery was set up by Ken Koo and Ho Kee Lam, directors of red dot Museum, to make this place more hip and happening.” says its Manager Jess Kong. Conspicuously located directly opposite the red dot Musuem, visitors can conveniently walk over to Artery for a quick tipple after a visit to the museum space, or simply to chill out. Some of the recommended drinks here: The delightful Chocolate Milkshake-like Delight which contains Kahlua, but curiously does not have any alcoholic taste; and the Wasabi-Chu, a mixture of Shochu Japanese Spirit, wasabi, yogurt and fruit Martini. For the creative minds and those bored with convention, Artery is the place to hang out for a different atmosphere and its unconventional menu of drinks.
Also good is the sexy and cozy bar Skin (#01-05, red dot Traffic building, 28 Maxwell Rd., 6327-4638). The large number of professionals and stylish urbanites visiting red dot should be pleased by this chill-out lounge playing house and soul music. Perfect as a pre-party haunt for hardcore clubbers or as a casual business meeting place, Skin is good for a decadent drink or simply to sit pretty and sip champagne.
But if you’re looking for cool eats that’s not Rochester Park, hip French eatery Le Papillon (#01-02 red dot Traffic building, 28 Maxwell Rd., 6327-4177) is a brilliant bet. Its brightly lit long rectangular, Scandinavian-like dining room with white-splashed painted walls projects a cheery atmosphere while giving diners soothing and relaxed vibes. A hand painted mural at the end of the restaurant stands out with a whimsical depiction of a butterfly flying through the edge of the forest. Incidentally, the butterfly is an iconic symbol of the restaurant, as “Le Papillon” means “butterfly” in English. Chef Anderson Ho’s gift lies in his extraordinary ability to reinterpret classic dishes and flavors, and inventing unusual flavor combinations, resulting in delectable dishes that are novel both in taste and style. A few of his signature dishes include warm Caesar salad, Meredith goat cheese with pesto on watermelon and Pedro Ximenez reduction, and nage of white miso with scallops, prawns, clams and baby sea bream.
For lighter bites, try the popular Pacific Coffee Company (#01-01 red dot Traffic building, 28 Maxwell Rd., 6327-4835) for a decent selection of coffee, tea, blends, desserts and chow down on pork pastramis, roast lambs and minute steaks that will satisfy hunger pangs.
Attractive and minimalist yoga space La Vida Loft (#04-02 red dot Traffic building, 28 Maxwell Rd., 6324-2728) has also been pulling in the crowds. There is no glass panel or mirror inside the studio, and it is only when you see the yoga mats neatly arranged on the floor that it dawns on you that people come here to practise yoga. “The vibe here is different from other commercial buildings,” says Regina Chua, founder of La Viva Loft. “Here, it is a community, and everyone practically knows everybody else.” The yoga classes offered here too are mostly unique. Try the Urban Yoga to distress and revitalize, the Yogamamma to see pregnant woman through, and the Yogibabe for walking infants.
With so much activity and creativity taking place at the red dot Traffic, isn’t it time you dropped by for an exhibition or drink or two if you haven’t already?