CARTE BLANCHE

New Straits Times - - Living -

Un­der the blaz­ing hot sun, the walk to Ho­tel Mono from the near­est Chi­na­town MRT Sta­tion exit feels a lot longer than just five min­utes. So when the ho­tel’s dis­tinct black and white façade with its charm­ing Juliet bal­conies fi­nally comes into view, I couldn’t help but ex­pel a sigh of re­lief.

Walk­ing through the au­to­mated door and into the air-con­di­tioned con­fines of this bou­tique ho­tel, I can feel all sense of dis­com­fort dis­si­pate. With its all­white pal­ette, the lat­est bou­tique ho­tel in Sin­ga­pore’s Chi­na­town is the per­fect place for trav­el­ers look­ing for that bal­ance be­tween the pul­sat­ing cityscape and the qui­etude of a pri­vate space.

Tucked along a row of triple-storey con­ser­va­tion shop­houses on Mosque Street, Ho­tel Mono boasts a mas­sive labyrinthine-like space in­side de­spite its hum­ble en­trance. Open­ing its doors on Fe­bru­ary 2017, this strik­ing new land­mark is a project by Pres­i­dent De­sign award­win­ning firm, Spacedge De­signs helmed by its chief de­signer and founder, Wil­liam Chan.

Mak­ing your way to your room, ma­neu­ver­ing one pas­sage to an­other, can be both a chal­leng­ing and ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Guests will de­light in the pic­ture-per­fect cor­ners, which are adorned with min­i­mal­is­tic fur­ni­ture.

There are 46 rooms in to­tal here and thanks to the ho­tel’s de­sign ap­proach, guests get to en­joy abodes that are spa­cious and com­fort­able. It’s no won­der that barely six months into its open­ing, Ho­tel Mono has been gar­ner­ing rave re­views.

Amidst of the tacky neon lights and Chi­nese restau­ra­teurs try­ing des­per­ately to at­tract cus­tomers, the ho­tel’s duo­tone faćade stands out. Ho­tel Mono oc­cu­pies six shop­houses, which have been com­pletely trans­formed in an ex­ten­sive re­fur­bish­ment by its ap­pointed in­te­rior de­signer, Chan.

Cater­ing to the de­sign-con­scious ur­ban no­mads, Ho­tel Mono’s state­ment-mak­ing black-and-white frontage poses an un­usual sight to the vi­brant city of Sin­ga­pore. Un­like other build­ings, its dis­tinct di­vi­sion of two ex­treme monochromes — black and white — is cer­tainly sen­sa­tional in es­tab­lish­ing a vivid de­sign lan­guage.

“When com­ing out with the de­sign lan­guage for the ho­tel, I wanted to throw away the rule­book. It’s im­por­tant to cre­ate some­thing that would stand out for not con­form­ing to the stan­dard ex­pec­ta­tions of what ho­tels should look like,” ad­mits Chan.

The de­sign re­lies heav­ily on sim­plic­ity, for­go­ing the com­mon el­e­ments of tack­i­ness and kitsch that are nor­mally adopted by many bou­tique ho­tels. Look­ing thought­ful, Chan con­fides that most ho­tel de­signs are eas­ily for­got­ten be­cause they sim­ply look the same. Not want­ing to pan­der to the clichés of nos­tal­gia and cul­tural ref­er­ences in Chi­na­town, the de­signer felt com­pelled to do some­thing sim­ple yet dif­fer­ent, but at the same time, still be able to com­mu­ni­cate the ‘Sin­ga­pore iden­tity’.

The in­te­rior de­signer was keen to iconise th­ese pre­war shop­houses with a con­tem­po­rary in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Keep­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments in­tact, the mod­erni­sa­tion heav­ily re­lies on the

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