Rows of naked bulbs hang from the ceiling. They cast a dim glow on bare concrete walls. Glass, steel, concrete are the materials of choice. This is a space that has been pared down, and hollowed out, a bare set ready for take direction, at the whim and fancy of an artist – and not just any artist but visionary film-maker Stanley Kubrick.
In other words, if Stanley Kubrick ever decided to live in our little red dot in this part of the world, this is where 3rd year IAD Te Vong Chhay would have liked to house him.
Vong Chhay’s stylish vision of Kubrick’s artist loft recently won the silver medal in the prestigious Ring Awards, organized by the International Council of Interior Architects and Designers. The Kubrick-inspired design beat entries from countries like Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan and so on.
Vong Chhay selected Townerville, a quiet sedate middle-class enclave of conservation pre-war terrace houses as his site. “This is a place I envisioned Kubrick would live,” he said. A hop, skip and jump away from the seedy dark lanes and red light districts and the colour and energy of Little India down the road, the location belies the dignified façade of the houses – white bread with an underbelly – a sly play on moods that Kubrick no doubt would have appreciated.
A big fan of Kubrick, Vong Chhay explained his design choices. “The brief for the competition was to design a SOHO for a client of a student’s choice. I formulated a concept statement through the study and analysis of the artist’s working philosophy and style of my choice – Stanley Kubrick. I chose 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick’s arguably most famous film) as an anchoring point for the design of the SOHO.” Vong Chhay’s use of parallel walls to demarcate space mirrored Kubrick’s signature shots which use double frames to depict movement. Similarly, while dialogue in the film is kept to a minimum, accessories and accents in the loft design also remained spare and minimalist in attitude.
Just as Kubrick’s films contain multiple layers of meaning, so did the sparseness of Vong Chhay’s design allow for individual interpretation. In his words: “I wanted to translate the level of depth prevalent in his films into architectural language and manifest it spatially. The spatial hierarchy relates back to Kubrick as a workaholic while architecturally responding to the client’s probable needs. The SOHO is the epitome of Kubrick’s visual style; walking through it is like watching a Kubrick film.”
Cambodian by birth, Vong Chhay comes from a family of businessmen. He walks a different path from his family, preferring to train in design instead of business studies. The idea of working with architecture and interior spaces had long intrigued the former Temasek Secondary School student. He said simply, “There’s got to be more to life than making money.” Lucky for us – because what was a loss for Big Business became Design’s gain.