LOH LIK PENG

Singaporean hospitality whizz Loh Lik Peng, founder of Unlisted Collection, has masterminded some of the world’s most dynamic boutique hotels, restaurants and bars, collaborating with architects, designers and chefs from Singapore to Shanghai and most recently Sydney.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What inspires your love of boutique hotels?
Our properties are usually located only in conservation buildings or buildings with a lot of character, which gives our guests an authentic experience of the city. I like these difficult old buildings. The original Sydney building housing The Old Clare Hotel was built in stages, starting from the early 20th century to the 1930s. It’s very complex and conservation listed, so the regulatory process was tough. I am delighted with the finished result and feel we’ve created something unique. 

ABOVE: Hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, founder and director of Unlisted Collection
BELOW: Heritage-modern rooms at The Old Clare Hotel, Sydney, including the Abercrombie Room (with freestanding bath), Clare Room and more contemporary Chippendale Loft. Local architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer adapted the original buildings

ABOVE: Original period details, from timber panelling to parquetry floors and cornices, feature in The Old Clare Hotel's two Showroom Suites (each with a restored bar as a bedhead) and pendant lamp-sporting C.U.B. Suite, located in the former brewery boardroom

What was your design vision for The Old Clare Hotel?
I liked the idea of working in an old brewery with a strong local heritage. I was really attracted by the raw industrial feel of the building and the locality. My vision was not to over-restore it, but to maintain the grittiness and the industrial, urban feeling of the building while respecting its unusual history. You can still see and feel its original character even as you sleep in the most comfortable of environments. We have cleaned the old lady up nicely but I hope she still retains the atmosphere of her brewery and pub past.

ABOVE: Design details in The Old Clare's 62 rooms include desk lamps made from salvaged car jacks by Margate's The Rag and Bone Man; Reclaimed naval search lights; and custom-designed pendant lights by PSLab, referencing the building's industrial elements and black steel

Which details are you particularly proud of?
I hope people just appreciate the original features of the hotel and some of the interesting heritage rooms. The Old Clare Hotel has these amazing art deco curved windows, original timber panelling and intricate plaster air vents. The structure is all macho bricks, steel, concrete and big timbers and I love that industrial character. We worked with some great collaborators too.

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ABOVE FROM TOP: Automata restaurant offers casual fine dining under chef Clayton Wells, with industrial-chic design by Matt Darwon (aka Matt Machine), including chandeliers upstairs made from aircraft engines; Kensington Street Social eatery, helmed by UK chef Jason Atherton, features rough-luxe interiors by Shanghai's Neri&Hu; Curvy The Clare bar stays true to its pub roots; The Rooftop Pool and Bar offers views of the Brutalist UTS Tower and Jean Nouvel's One Central Park residential skyscrapers, with living green walls by Patrick Blanc

Tell us about the restaurants and bars launched alongside the hotel.
We have two very special restaurantsAutomata and Kensington Street Social – on site, and we also have a Rooftop Pool and Bar and revamped heritage bar The Clare serving some of the best cocktails in Sydney. 

ABOVE: Current show 'Vile Bodies', at Chippendale's mod-Sino White Rabbit Gallery until 5 February 2017, features Zhang Dali's disturbing installation 'Chinese Offspring' (2005) in the atrium; Level 2 displays Su Xinping's outsize image of clasped hands 'Untitled' (2015) and Hou Chun-Ming's vibrant 'Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea' (2008). The birdcage-hung teahouse serves tea and dumplings

What attracted you to the hotel's location in Chippendale, in Sydney's inner-south?
Chippendale is filled with interesting designers and galleries, such as contemporary Chinese art showcase the White Rabbit Gallery, which I find really inspiring. I’m excited by Chippendale’s authentic and local feel. It’s a very low-key neighbourhood that has its own thing going on and its own local scene. I hope our guests just go and explore Kensington Street and the wider area, as they have so much to offer.

ABOVE: Unlisted Collection stays include opulent Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, East London; Quirky Wanderlust Hotel in Little India, Singapore, set in an old school; and The Waterhouse at South Bund in Huangpu, Shanghai, a concrete former 1930s army HQ and warehouse transformed by local architects Neri&Hu with light minimal interiors 

What's your design philosophy?
I’m inspired by authentic locations, places that have a sense of localness, grit and edge. I've sited previous hotels in town halls, old schools and old warehouses – and having one in a former brewery appeals to me very much, especially since the Carlton & United Breweries has such a long association with New South Wales and Sydney. I’m fascinated by unloved heritage buildings in these vibrant local neighbourhoods and I think The Clare/C.U.B. and Chippendale have this character in spades.

ABOVE: Loh Lik Peng's design heroes include Danish architect Finn Juhl, whose 'Pelican' armchairs by Onecollection are available from London Scandinavian interiors store Skandium

Who are your design heroes?
My design heroes include Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl.

What's currently exciting you in design?
I’m really into small craft producers at the moment. I love handcrafted Japanese ceramics and Korean lacquer. 

ABOVE: Loh Lek Peng's must-sees in Singapore include heritage-modern hybrids the National Gallery Singapore, converted by studioMilou and CPG Consultants; and the National Design Centre by SCDA Architects, shown here illuminated at night

What should design fans see in Singapore?
The old Supreme Court and City Hall buildings have now been turned into the National Gallery Singapore, which showcases great architecture and South-East Asian art. I also love Singapore’s National Design Centre as it always has an interesting programme. Both have brilliant gift shops! 

ABOVE: Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur, California, sports wraparound ocean views

Where's on your travel wish list?
My all-time favourite resort hotel is the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California.

What's your social media of choice?
Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and Instagram because I love visual mediums. For news on our hotels and restaurants, follow Unlisted Collection.
unlistedcollection.com

Photos:
Various; Unlisted Collection (portrait); Aaron Pocock (National Design Centre); White Rabbit Gallery, courtesy of the artists and White Rabbit Collection

LYNDA GARDENER Curated

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She made her name with cult store Empire Vintage in Melbourne’s Albert Park, a sharp-eyed edit of vintage and industrial pieces, recently reborn as Lynda Gardener: Curated. As well as shopping the look fans can experience it in person too, thanks to Lynda Gardener’s four stylish stays in and around town. Having founded studio Gardener & Marks with a friend, Lynda has now gone it alone, offering interior design services under her own name.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Tell us about your Melbourne store's new direction.
Since I was a very young girl, I’ve always searched to find that special one-off piece to treasure and give it a new home! I still do – it’s in my blood and is what I love. The new store is back to more old and a touch of new, and will constantly be evolving. I have always loved collecting and now that my personal storage is at overload, I have decided to delve back in and sell stock from my private collections, large and small, from country furniture to milliners’ hat blocks, crockery and industrial foundry pieces. Curated is all about one-off pieces sourced and salvaged over many years. As in my own home I do love a mix of old and a touch of new. 

ABOVE: Lynda Gardener with her cocker spaniel Jack ('Wallpaper Frocks' by UK designer Deborah Bowness)
ABOVE RIGHT: Vintage meets new at revamped Albert Park store Lynda Gardener: Curated in Melbourne
BELOW: New southside Melbourne boutique stay The Apartment St Kilda

What inspired the interiors of your latest Melbourne boutique stay The Apartment St Kilda?
I wanted something very fresh, white and light. The Apartment overlooks lovely green lush old gardens which belong to the building, so bringing lots of green in with foliage and indoor plants, lots of white paint and my love for the mix of old and new is what makes the space so special.

What about the interiors of your recently launched stay The Estate Trentham in country Victoria just outside town?
The Estate is very different again, a more Scandinavian influence – skins, rugs, lots of deep comfortable couches to laze on and lie in front of the fire and read, lovely old wool blankets and oil paintings. It combines old and new finds and lots of textures and layers. The Estate is also all about the garden, as we have gorgeous herb gardens that evolve and change yearly. Right now we are planting a tea garden there with our wonderful gardener, so guests can create their own brews and teas.

BELOW: Stylish stay The Estate Trentham, in rustic Trentham near Melbourne, combines subtle neutrals, textures and layers

ABOVE: Cosy-cool cottage getaway The White House, in Victoria's spa town Daylesford, near Melbourne, mixes pretty with industrial-vintage

What was the design style for your first two boutique stays, The White House in rural Daylesford and The White Room in Melbourne's inner-city Fitzroy?
The White House is a very cosy, warm rustic house with interiors with lots of layers and textures – wallpapers, rugs, throws, leather, linen and lots of it. 

The White Room is part of a former mattress factory and I wanted to keep a constant flow with industrial lighting and a mix of industrial furniture for a very white warehouse studio feel. It also features personal collections of art work, books and one-off finds.

ABOVE: White, grey and blue rule at industrial-vintage sanctuary The White Room, in Fitzroy, Melbourne

Where do you source decor pieces, and what do you look for?
I am pretty random and there is no one place in particular. I like being spontaneous and not planning too much ahead. I love to find pieces and then be inspired by them to create a room and look. Since way back I’ve been sourcing from local and overseas markets, and if I’m travelling I never miss a Sunday market. I also have fabulous contacts that I can turn to as well as my own personal collection that I have started to source specific pieces from for different installations. 

What's your design philosophy?
Mix old with new. Make your home your own by putting your own stamp on it, either with something you love to collect or perhaps a colour or tone you love and stick with it, like collections all in white, or a cluster of landscapes on one wall to create a feature. I like the house to flow from the front to the back and to stick to a colour all the way through – for instance white, greys, or a black and white room. The Estate is all about browns, mushroom and whites, just naturals. 

ABOVE: Sleeping two, The White Room's open-plan bedroom/study/kitchen opens up to an airy courtyard terrace

Where do you get inspiration? 
From everywhere and anything, it changes all the time. These days I find inspiration on Instagram, with so much fantastic food for thought rolling around every minute of the day. I love it as I do Pinterest, another great source of inspiration for me. I still buy my favourite interior magazines and coffee-table books, which I pile up and love flicking though often. Other people, mainly all the great stylists out there, continually inspire me, as does history and architecture. I am a great wanderer and love being randomly inspired by something I may have walked by many times, however on a different day, thinking about different things, it will stand out.

Who are your design heroes? Or which era, aesthetic, building or interior has influenced you the most?
Once again I have so many – I probably love a little something from every era, generally anything old and with character. However, that is about to change with a new build in the making for next year. I can’t wait as that’s a true challenge for me.

BELOW: Touches of green, from plants to vases and art, liven up boho beauty The Apartment St Kilda near Melbourne's bay

What's currently exciting you in design or style?
It excites me that so many looks and styles are going around and really no one way or another is right or wrong. We are so lucky to be able to create any look we want and not have to stick with trends that are ‘now’ or short term. I love Scandinavian, and yet I love very bohemian styles currently too. For me it depends on the space you are decorating and which way it tends to lean. Some places just speak to you instantly and that’s the way I tend to go.

Where's on your travel wish list?
Copenhagen is next on my list. I have never travelled to Denmark and I am keen to check out the city and its surrounds. I’m excited by Danish design’s use of simple clean lines, and their interior style and architecture. I just want to roam the streets, eat, look and discover.

What's your social media of choice?
Instagram as I find it almost relaxing flicking through everyone’s lives all around the world. It’s instant and fast yet so, so inspiring seeing so many creative people doing something different every day, or in fact every hour!

BELOW: Deli-cafe Oxford Larder in Melbourne's inner-north Collingwood is one of Lynda Gardener's favourite new spots for a snack

What are your top Melbourne tips?
I have always lived in Fitzroy and I can never get enough of it. I am forever excited about visiting a new cafe, bar or store. Gertrude Street, Smith Street and all the back streets of Collingwood are my favourite spots. My current faves are Marion wine bar in Gertrude Street – I love the interior and the casual dining/drinking feel oozing style. Café-deli Oxford Larder in Collingwood is my little local favourite, which is owned by very good friends of mine. An old stamping ground is Babka café on Brunswick Street for its great food, bread and cakes – the best! I don’t think it has changed in any way for the past 30 years and it has had the same owner from day one. Baker D. Chirico in Carlton is known for its outstanding fit-out, styling and, of course, delicious bread, food, desserts and staff. Neighbourhood Wine, hidden in the back streets off Nicholson Street, also has great food.

Lynda Gardener: Curated is at 63 Cardigan Place, Albert Park, Melbourne. See websites in Q&A for Lynda's four self-catering stays

Pictures: Lisa Cohen (select shots)

SEBASTIAN WRONG Wrong For Hay

Making Hay while the sun shines: Brit design talent Sebastian Wrong

Making Hay while the sun shines: Brit design talent Sebastian Wrong

Co-founder of Established & Sons, Brit designer Sebastian Wrong’s latest venture Wrong For Hay sees him teaming up with Danish interiors brand Hay. Demonstrating his knack for fostering design talent, the collection is an ultra- chic mix of lighting, furniture, textiles, glassware and ceramics at prices we can afford. So Wrong. So right!


BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How did the collaboration with Hay come about?
I met the founders Mette and Rolf Hay in Copenhagen through a mutual friend Stefan Diez, who was working on a few projects with Hay. Originally, the concept was born out of developing a new lighting collection. Hay don’t do lighting and never have. It became much bigger than that pretty quickly.

What's your role?
I’m the Design Director, so I’m working with my own team on designs, while commissioning a number of international designers on individual products, too. Developing a collection is largely based on intuition, refining any design until it answers our needs.

 

TOP ROW FROM LEFT:

‘Ori’ salt and pepper mills by Anderssen & Voll come in five graphic colours

‘Pion’ lights by Bertjan Pot feature a stitched paper shade with a cool Art Deco aesthetic

This ‘Rope Trick’ lamp by Stefan Diez has an adjustable shade that directs the beam in different directions

Part of the ‘Tela’ range of glassware, this carafe has a delicate organic shape

BOTTOM ROW FROM LEFT:

The ‘Tela’ glassware by Silo Studio is softly textured and
subtly tinted

The seat of the ‘Revolver’ stool by Leon Ransmeier rotates 360 degrees

‘Ice’ cushion by Nathalie du Pasquier. Very modern Memphis and very now

‘Memory’ cushion by Nathalie du Pasquier. We totally heart these vibrant geometrics.

 

What makes this collection different from what you've done before?
It's important for us to benchmark quality products at an affordable cost. I'm designing this collection to be a commercial success, therefore the prices have to be competitive. A lot can be done with a little! 

What's next for you?
Growing the business Wrong For Hay. It’s a full-time commitment. It’s not a one-off collection or a capsule. We’re a standalone independent company to Hay but obviously very closely aligned.

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been? 
I studied art and specialised in sculpture, so I probably would have been an artist – and I thought I was going to be for quite some time!

How would you describe your style?
Eclectic. Quite free-spirited. And slow...

Which creative types have influenced you most? 
My tastes and interests change so often, but if I was pushed I'd say the sculptor Richard Serra and painter Philip Guston. I would invite designers Richard Sapper and Ettore Sottsass along to the dinner table, too.

How do you find inspiration? 
By opening my eyes. I’m not trying to be pretentious by saying that. If I got stuck in a box for a period of time, I would find some inspiration looking at the brown walls. It is more to do with a state of mind – being open to look at things and having the luxury of time to play with ideas. I do have a lot of books that I’ve been collecting for many years, so they provide a large amount of source material that I often refer to for research and ideas. 

Is there one product that you admire and wish you had designed?
I wish I’d got the patent for wheeled suitcases! 

Which social media do you enjoy most?
I don't use any. I don't have the time.
wrongforhay.com