GOVT’s new of­fice is where old- school icons meet new- age workspaces.

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GOVT’s new of­fice is where old-school icons meet new-age workspaces.

GOVT is an award- win­ning in­de­pen­dent cre­ative agency whose clients in­clude no­table names such as Net­flix, Nescafe and OCBC Bank. It be­lieves in try­ing to do “ad­ver­tis­ing that does not feel like reg­u­lar, wall­pa­per- like ad­ver­tis­ing”. True to its man­i­festo, GOVT’s new 4,300sqf of­fice lo­cated in Tan Boon Liat Build­ing at Ou­tram Road is a far cr y from the reg­u­lar, cor­po­rate- like work­place.

GOVT’s brief to de­sign direc­tor Bu Shukun and as­so­ciate de­signer Jayelle Choo, from Ar­chi­tol­ogy In­te­ri­ors, was to cre­ate a workspace for 30 staff mem­bers and also al­low for ex­pan­sion to cater to an ad­di­tional 30 more.

“The client em­pha­sised that the new workspace will be a crit­i­cal step- up from its cur­rent, more in­for­mal setup into a full- scale agency, and it will have to ac­com­mo­date its rapid head­count growth,” elab­o­rates Shukun.

The home- grown agency is proud of its Sin­ga­pore iden­tity and wanted an of­fice de­signed around its dy­namic team, whom it con­sid­ers its prized as­set. It is con­ceived as a new home that will ig­nite ev­ery team mem­ber’s cre­ative pas­sion, nur­ture their growth and de­vel­op­ment, as well as cel­e­brate their di­ver­sity. This was how the con­cept of an “Ur­ban Kam­pung” came about, en­abling GOVT’s or­ganic growth into a pos­i­tive, in­ter­ac­tive com­mu­nity.

Even though the direc­tors of GOVT used to be from in­ter­na­tional agen­cies, they never for­got their Sin­ga­pore roots, which they re­fer to as their “spe­cial sauce”. There was a yearn­ing to bring back the good old days and re­vive the “kam­pung spirit”, and the ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of vin­tage knick- knacks that they had amassed over the years pro­vided the per­fect cat­a­lyst.

The chal­lenge for Shukun and Jayelle was to re­think and relook these ubiq­ui­tous ob­jects and ma­te­ri­als, and rein­ter­pret them to fit into a mod­ern of­fice con­text. Retro el­e­ments such as a bar­ber’s chair, the pawn­shop in­sti­tu­tion from yes­ter­year and old- fash­ioned cin­ema mem­o­ra­bilia are given tonguein- cheek twists to in­ject new life into the old kam­pung – thereby cre­at­ing an “ur­ban kam­pung”.

In keep­ing with kam­pung cul­ture, where non­de­script ob­jects can be re­pur­posed with a bit of in­ge­nu­ity, “it was also about ex­plor­ing what we could come up with by fix­ing sim­ple, every­day ob­jects with a stan­dard light bulb,” says Jayelle. “For in­stance, we in­serted a LED light in­side a hol­low wa­ter pipe, which was then sus­pended like a bam­boo pole for hang­ing clothes,” she adds.

“Un­like other of­fice projects we’ve done, we had to do a lot of sourc­ing in this case, in or­der to find cer­tain items to achieve a spe­cific look,” shares Jayelle. But this was un­de­ni­ably part of the fun, fu­elled by a col­lec­tive vi­sion shared by both client and de­signer, which is to put to­gether the best space for ev­ery­one.

“With clients in the cre­ative in­dus­try, set­ting com­mon goals and as­pi­ra­tions is usu­ally the easy part. The chal­lenge was to eval­u­ate each idea ob­jec­tively and en­sure that ev­ery­one was on the same page,” Shukun re­veals. “Ul­ti­mately, the sat­is­fac­tion comes from see­ing peo­ple en­joy­ing the spa­ces, just like how we en­vi­sioned them to be.”


1, 2 & 6 The of­fice foyer cel­e­brates the peo­ple be­hind the com­pany – with their por­traits on movie posters! Old cin­ema chairs cre­ate a wait­ing area that also show­cases their awards and achieve­ments. The pawn­shop front houses the fi­nance depart­ment.

5 Nick­named the cock­fight cage, this is where cre­atives fight it out. GOVT’s cin­e­matic en­trance al­lows visi­tors a can­did first glance at the agency and its peo­ple. 57

3 The retro-look­ing floor tiles of the build­ing pave the way to GOVT’s of­fice with a sim­i­lar theme.

4 The of­fice has a strong cul­ture of din­ing to­gether and en­joy­ing post-work drinks. What bet­ter place than around an XXXL mo­saic ta­ble sim­i­lar to those found in HDB void decks?

7 This car­i­ca­ture by Edi­son Teo, a friend of the direc­tors, de­picts a GOVTstyled “garang” Mer­lion. Aptly drawn around an old­school can­teen tap and sink, it comes alive as a fear­less Mer­lion spout­ing wa­ter.

8 A small cor­ner room meant for pri­vate calls and dis­cus­sions has been ex­ag­ger­ated into a jail cell, draw­ing on the im­agery of ex­treme iso­la­tion with an in­ter­ro­ga­tion ses­sion on the bar­ber chair.

9 The HDB void deck is used as a de­sign metaphor to in­voke a sense of com­mu­nity.

10 Ac­count man­agers are lined up along a street with dou­ble yel­low lines and mark­ings. Each work­sta­tion is equipped with its own pin board and light fix­ture.

11 Many of the old school relics are from the direc­tors’ own col­lec­tions. This lion-head door han­dle at the main en­trance was sourced from Junkie’s Cor­ner.

12 The hawker stall setup in the pantry al­lows var­i­ous snacks to be dis­played, en­tic­ing staff to feed their bod­ies as they work their minds.

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