When stepping into Sphere for the first time, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re in an art gallery. Situated in the heart of the Central Business District at 137 Cecil Street, the two-storey gym and fitness recovery space looks something like an alternate Guggenheim, with the Brutalist-meets-minimalist interiors bathed in the calming glow of James Turrell-esque lighting. (Check out the 3D walkthrough on its website for the full experience.)
Bowen You (left) and Allan Ng (right) are the co-founders of Sphere.
As co-founder Bowen You shares, the intention was to “create a curated environment inspired by art and architecture.” A partnership between You and co-owner Allan Ng, Sphere saw its soft launch in August 2022 and officially opened its doors in Nov.
You was working in product marketing and partnerships in New York City for brands such as Cartier and Disney prior to moving to Singapore. Meanwhile, Ng is a former muay Thai pro who represented Singapore in international competitions in 2015 and 2016; he leads the conceptualisation and development of the company’s products in performance and recovery.
Sphere combines the experience of being in a boutique gym and fitness recovery centre with that of stepping into a sleek art gallery.
All the art in the space is curated by You, along with design partner Ken Yuktasevi from the multi-disciplinary creative firm Parable Studio. Support was also provided by Hatch Art Project, a contemporary art gallery focusing on Asian art.
Their creative vision culminates in a space that not only provides facilities such as a gymnasium, sensory deprivation float tanks and infrared sauna, it is also tastefully dotted with contemporary art pieces such as the skateboard triptych by Jean-Michel Basquiat and works by exciting Indonesian artists such as Didin Jirot and Iabadiou Piko.
Spot the Basquiat in the changing room.
“As the perspectives on what constitutes personal optimisation, performance and recovery shift, there has been increasing importance on the gym to not just be a fitness facility, but a sanctuary where like-minded individuals can connect, where communities can be developed and where optimisation and new experiences can be discovered,” says You.
The gymnasium of Sphere – with its white walls, flooring and equipment – evoke the design sensibilities of designers such as Rick Owens and Martin Margiela.
Ahead, You talks us through the design of the space, as well as his perspective on the relationship between art and fitness.