Singapore’s Hotel Mono Is A Minimalist’s Paradise
Singapore-based studio Spacedge Designs took a masterfully monochromatic approach to the interiors of this trendy 46-room hotel.
A visit to a hotel can sometimes be an unwelcome sensory assault. Exuberant multi-colored palettes and competing patterns or textures often end up making guests feel overwhelmed in their temporary domiciles. For travelers weary of such visual onslaught, Hotel Mono, a new boutique hotel in Singapore offers a welcome antidote.
The concept? A 46-room dwelling designed in an almost entirely monochromatic scheme. William Chan of local studio Spacedge Designs masterminded the project. “The monochromatic approach is an art,” Chan says. “When monochromes are layered with graphic and structured elements, it becomes visually powerful.” Though he was always set on the black-and-white theme, he admits that the clients took a little convincing, so he also mocked up versions for the clients using pastels and bold colours. “Fortunately, in the end, they realised that monochrome has its own special charm,” he says.
A minimalist’s dream, Hotel Mono’s soothing interiors are almost graphic in effect, leading the eye with thick black lines and sharp angles. All furnishings are custom-made except for one key piece: a vintage Eero Aarnio Globe chair in the lobby. Chan replaced its original red fabric with black and modified the chair slightly by inserting it into the wall. For the custom metal furniture designs, Chan took inspiration from the the pieces in AG Fronzoni’s Serie 64 (Hotel Mono’s logo also echoes that collection). Chosen for its skin-like effect, the sofa upholstery in the Lounge area on the second and third floors is a cotton-blocked vinyl from the Next of Skin collection by American designer Gretchen Bellinger.
Chan wasn’t completely militant with the colour scheme. “I wanted to add layers to the design so that it’s not just monochromes and nothing else,” he says. “To bridge the high contrast of the two tones in the rooms, I chose a palette of nude hues like pink, beige and brown for the bathrooms, in mosaic form.” Those same colors also appear on accent walls and in laminates on the suspended blocks on the walls that hide the mini fridges. In addition, Chan says, the nude skin colors are a metaphor for the multicultural population of Singapore, and the world in general.
Chan also faced another challenge—Hotel Mono occupies a row of six shophouses built in the early 1900s that have been accorded conservation status, which set all sorts of limitations. “Buildings built at that time were mostly crooked, and the actual site dimensions were not consistent with the building drawings,” he says. As a result, no two of the 46 rooms have the same floorplan. The construction process also encountered many hiccups such as water seepage from the main sanitary pipes, ceilings, and windows (which, in most of the rooms, were all covered).
Still the challenge served as inspiration for Chan. “Thinking back to the time when the shophouses were built and the hard life of the early immigrants to Singapore, this greatly influenced my design. These pioneers had lived a simple and frugal life, and they also had to be inventive in order to survive.”
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