The feature wall in the private dining room is by Australian designer Kerrie Brown.

When private members’ club 1880 set out to woo Singapore’s community of movers and shakers, its founder Marc Nicholson promised a mix of fresh ideas, new collaborations and serious networking. To get those creative juices flowing and the conversation going, members mingle in a super sleek space that is bound to be a talking point in itself. The club, which opened on Dec 2, is part of Quayside, a new mixed-use cluster in Nanson Road. It is located on the third level of a building that also houses the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay hotel and restaurants.

This is the first interior design project in Singapore for the superstar designer, who also has an eponymous retail brand he started in 2008. That collection of furniture often stands out for marrying a sophisticated masculine aesthetic with an industrial vibe. Mr Oulton, 50, who is also a partner in 1880, says he immediately jumped on board when he was approached with the private members’ club pitch.

Calling it a “no-brainer” move to get involved, Mr Oulton says: “This is (the studio’s) first big job. It’s definitely something we want to expand into… It’s part of our ethos of going from the furniture to a space and then to an experience.”

The studio has worked on smaller projects such as modern British restaurant Gough’s on Gough in Hong Kong and Blue Room, an exclusive members-only speakeasy in Los Angeles. At 1880, members rock up to the club via The Kaleidoscope, an escalator that runs through a shimmery tunnel, panelled with green-toned glass. Step off the moving stairs and members are greeted by 1880 staff, who stand poised behind a glowing 1,500kg crystal that is the reception table. Unearthed in Madagascar, it is one of three such pieces in the world. The other two belong to actor Robert Downey Jr.

The reception table (above) is made from natural crystal from Madagascar. ST Photo: Seah Kwang Peng

Inside 1880, there are many spots for members to work or huddle around. Besides the all-day-dining restaurant Leonie’s and co-working space Bardo, there is also Mei, a spa which has grooming facilities such as manicure and pedicure stations. The Double is a cafe by day. Then, with a quick turn of its rotating banquettes and a rack lined with alcohol bottles lowered from the ceiling, the space transforms into a cosy bar by night. Members can perch themselves at the 6m-long pine log that doubles as the bar counter.

A 6m-long pine log is turned into the bar counter at The Double. ST PHOTO: Seah Kwang Peng
Made from burnt wood and brass, the 2.7m-tall wine cellar in all-day-dining restaurant Leonie’s can hold up to 750 bottles. ST Photo: Seah Kwang Peng

Those who need to take a call can pop into one of the two 2.5m-tall aluminium-clad cylinders that are tucked away outside Bardo. They are actually sound-proof phone booths with interiors adorned with embroidered tufted silk.

While 1880 is built on the idea of socialising, the Recovery Room is for those who need a breather. In the dark blue room, tired social butterflies can bury themselves in Mr Oulton’s ultra-comfy, oversized leather sofa, which has been aptly named Cloud.

A sound-proof phone booth is clad in aluminium and has an interior of embroidered tufted silk. ST Photo: Seah Kwang Peng

Other design fixtures can be found in Teapot Bar, where a part of the bar is decorated with 360 vintage teapots; and a Singapore Map Table, where brass has been inlaid onto black marble, outlining what the city will look like in the future, following an image taken from the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Concept Plan 2011.

The Teapot Bar is decorated with 360 vintage teapots.ST Photo: Seah Kwang Peng

While interior design may be a relatively new realm for Mr Oulton, he sticks to the same principles he uses when designing furniture. One common thread between furniture and interiors: A lot of 1880’s fixtures and furnishings are made of reclaimed or salvaged materials. On the outdoor terrace stands the Bird’s Nest, a dramatic eight-seat structure, built with 300kg of driftwood, in which members can cocoon themselves.

Some of the flooring for spaces are done with reclaimed wood such as that in the private dining room, which features mahogany tiles laid out in a herringbone pattern. Not one to be politically correct, Mr Oulton says: “I pick salvaged timber not because I’m eco-friendly but because it’s more beautiful.”

Mr Nicholson, 48, declines to discuss the price tag of the interiors, but says the beautiful space will put members at ease.

“1880 will feel so familiar, like you’ve known it all your life, because it is part of you.

“But it is still capable of surprising and shocking the senses, and tantalising the mind. It’s a space to inspire conversations.”

This story first appeared on www.straitstimes.com 

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