Designed by A&A Concept Design & Contract Sdn Bhd, the TKB show unit leans into the rich heritage of the Baba Nyonya culture. Through a series of well-composed spaces, the designers infused the unique characteristics of the Peranakan culture, into the lively home, where one not only can see and touch these connections to the past but also live among them.
“There are a few things that make a design distinctively Baba Nyonya: flower motifs, vibrant colours, bold contrasts, an emphasis on a tight family unit and a sense of togetherness,” the design team explains.
For the living room, a multifunctional timber bench was installed below the wall mural to overcome space limitation. “The bench is not just for sitting, as it can be lifted to reveal an elegantly hidden storage space,” the designers say, adding that a three-pronged lamp has been installed onto the side table extending from the bench, adding lighting solutions into the mix. On the far side, where the bench bends at a right angle, the top of the backrest doubles as a counter, while the flip side presents even more storage space.The use of sarong bearing floral motifs as material for the pillowcases and the lampshades was a deliberate inclusion to complete the quintessentially Baba Nyonya-inspired space. Floral motifs continue to carry this ideal, strikingly contrasted against a rich green background on the serving table.
The floral motifs continue into the dining area, where they appear on the cushions fastened to the multicoloured rattan chairs as well as the tablecloth. Along with the choice selection of dinnerware, the placemats chosen to grace the table surface are also full of artistic splendour. Further adding to the traditional beauty of this space, the back panels of the tall shelf in the corner have been dressed up with an assortment of Baba Nyonya-inspired tiles.
In stark contrast, the kitchen area veers to pay homage to the land’s colonial past with its clean, unbusy surfaces. Still, the design continues to show its love for Baba Nyonya culture through the sharp yellow accent expressed on the cabinet doors. The counter surface itself has been adorned with glass jars and tiffin carriers alike, representing the meeting of cultures.
In the bathroom, the sink has been fashioned like a large Baba Nyonya serving bowl, bearing its signature bold colours and floral patterns. Wall tiles that show off the many variations of Baba Nyonya floral tiles complement the sink beautifully.
With just over 100 sqft to work with, the challenge in designing for the master bedroom was immediately apparent. The first solution was to build the lighting into the wall feature itself, embedding the lights into the irregular hexagons covering the wall over the bed, which shapes a modern interpretation of the familiar floral motifs. Flanking this wall feature are long mirrors leading from the ceiling to the bedside tables, creating depth and opening up the space.
The second solution was to combine the dressing cabinet and dressing table, which is supported here by an old sewing machine’s cast iron leg. The various sections of the cabinet have been outfitted with warm lights to emphasize their depth and design, while the vintage dresses, footwear and decorative items work in tandem to create a space that feels alive and lived-in.
In designing the other bedrooms, a unique challenge was issued to work with the double volume ceilings on top of the limited space available – 75 sqft with a 17 ft tall ceiling. To overcome the problem of the imposing heights, the upper portion of the room was decorated with a mural depicting vintage wooden windows to create the impression of a second space. A wooden balustrade has been further installed here to lend to the authenticity of the look. In tackling the space limitations, creative storage solutions had to be created. The raised platform, upon which the bed had been placed, houses multiple drawers, while by the bedside, recessed shelves have been installed to provide further storage options. All this functionality does not come without beauty either: each of the raised platform’s drawers is strikingly contrasted against the platform itself, and the wall behind the shelves has been adorned with lovely traditional motifs.
The most eye-catching thing in the third bedroom is perhaps the wall mural, which depicts four Baba Nyonya ladies in multicoloured traditional wear.Practically, the design also makes use of the vertical space available, installing the dressing table above the bedside table and employing a steel pole that zigs and zags at right angles to both support the dressing table and act as a multifunctional hanging rack.
Departing from the loud colours and strong contrasts, the final bedroom is dressed up in cool colours and earthy tones to balance out the visual palette. The feature wall here has been tastefully decorated with soft monochrome flowers, a final nod to Baba Nyonya culture.