So Pantone announced the 2015 Color of the Year…

And it’s “Marsala”, so-named after the sweet Sicilian fortified wine. It did appear in their Spring 2015 palette, but it was way down the numbering — and looked so much like a neutral that I totally glossed over it.

I was betting on Lucite Green, especially because Dulux’s forecast for 2015 Color of the Year was Copper Crush, and the color experts from the two companies have always seemed to pick contrasting hues.

Marsala looks like a very muted oxblood. And I really like oxblood…but Marsala kind of looks blah. I wonder if Pantone is losing it? 2014’s Radiant Orchid (aka, mauve, in my opinion) turned a lot of people off, unlike the past years’ Cerulean, Mimosa, and even Tangerine Tango.

But ok…with a name like Marsala, and all that it is supposed to evoke (Sicilian summers, sweet wine, mouthwatering chicken, alcoholic desserts), I could give it a go.


Images from Pantone

What do you think of Marsala?


Think pink

Before this month ends and I completely forget (it’s a busy, busy month!), can I tell you about the coolest design initiative by Xtra?

They’ve put together a collection of fun, lighthearted furniture and accessories in the color of breast cancer awareness (because that’s what this month is).

First up, Ron Arad’s Voido rocking chair for Magis: it’s been ‘transformed’ into the Infinity chair in this lovely hot pink. The Magis Puppy also comes in two shades of confetti-print pink (so tempting to buy a sister for my black Puppy, but where do I put them?). There are a few other items on the collection, like notebooks, but what I’d like to highlight is my friend Erricson’s marble-base lamp. In the sweetest shade of pink (that may or may not be intentionally shaped like an implant), he says it’s inspired by the feminine form and “invites the beholder to caress the lamp with boss hands”.

Anyway, make your way to Xtra at Park Mall to see these lovely pieces till the end of this month…and hopefully you’ll like them, too, and pick something up in support of breast cancer awareness.


5 things I learned at Art Stage Singapore

This post could just as well be titled: Art Appreciation for Bimbos.

First off, I’m no art expert. My meager collection consists of a pair of tiny watercolor scenes of San Gimignano by Gino Corsi, bought when I went on a road trip through Tuscany with my aunt; and a silkscreen of a Singapore heritage building by Safaruddin Bin Abdul Hamid (aka Dyn), commissioned by IKEA for its democratic art campaign. I once had a Gabriel Barredo candlestand, which the reclusive sculptor gifted when I interviewed him about his home, but I left it in Manila, and I don’t know what’s become of it.

Secondly, my philosophy on art is this simple: whatever makes you smile. So whatever the pedigree of the artist or the provenance of the work, if it brings a smile to your face, it’s good art. The ballerinas of Edgar Degas make me smile; his other stuff, not so much. Joan Miro always makes me smile, and dream, and remember — that, to me, is fantastic art. It was nice to see some Miro paintings at Art Stage Singapore.



For the most part, this edition of Art Stage Singapore made me smile. It didn’t blow me away as in previous years, but I enjoyed it. So seeing art that made me smile, and not, taught me a few things about myself on the Saturday afternoon I spent at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center.

1) I’m a magpie. I was enchanted by Iranian artist Reza Derakshani’s party-inspired pieces. They had glitter.

2) I love, love, love color. And geometry, apparently. Like Israel-born artist Yaacov Agam’s polymorphic works, and Singaporean artist Jane Lee’s tiles.


3) I generally like art about urban design, architecture and furniture. Like Australian artist Joanna Lamb’s light sculptures, Singaporean artist Michael Lee’s treehouse piece, and this voyeuristic apartment building that I couldn’t identify.




4) I really like Japanese artist Fumihiro Takemura’s acrylic three-dimensional maps and table settings, and someday I hope to own one of his works.




5) I generally don’t like art that makes you think about the sadder things in life. A lot of works (by Asian artists) are socio-political by nature (others like to deal with disembodied guts, for whatever reason — I don’t care about those works). Some pieces, like the Mark Justiniani installation exhibited at the Southeast Asia platform in Art Stage, are so pleasantly done however, that the somewhat-depressing subject matter can be forgiven.

Here are a few more scenes from Art Stage Singapore 2014. It ends today (January 19); luckily the bigger galleries have their own space at Gillman Barracks (and the really big galleries at Ion Orchard), and hopefully they’ll have some of the Art Stage pieces there.


















(So much fun to caption some of these photos: Shine bright like a diamond, Cake decorating is an art, I don’t understand this too, Is the wolf really humping R2D2? (Yes, the name of this sculpture by Norwegian artist Dolk is “Puppy love”), etc.)

Mauve…it’s mauve


The announcement came last night (morning in the US): lavender, declared Pantone, is the color of 2014.

Oh wait, they didn’t call it lavender. They dubbed the pastel pinkish-purplish hue “Radiant Orchid”.

To which the top Singaporean design correspondent (not me lol) commented: “Doesn’t look radiant, and orchids come in many other colors”.
Singapore cultivates over a thousand species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids at the National Orchid Garden. So she knows what she’s talking about.

Granted, I do remember Crayola had a crayon in this shade, called orchid from the purple family. It was formulated in 1949.


A younger Singaporean writer who covers the design beat commented: “Such a grandma type of color! Trying to appeal to the aging population perhaps?”

Incidentally the aging population may know this color as mauve.

Update: Color forecast

So…did Pantone get the Spring 2014 palette forecast right? See some of these samples for yourself.

From Max Mara’s collection presented in Milan – Spring 2014 Fashion Week (images from The Cut):

From Topshop during London’s Spring 2014 Fashion Week (images from Racked):

And more, from right:
Christopher Kane (image from The Cut)
Paul Smith (image from The Cut)
Emilia Wickstead (image from StyleBistro)

On another color note… I went to 100% Design Singapore last week. An offshoot of 100% Design London, the Singapore show is on its second (small and sad) year. One of the highlights was supposed to be this Color forecast presentation by Shaw Contact Group. I sat through the whole thing and took notes. I took notes! And then, when I got home and checked online for images, I saw that the presentation, “ColorEvolution”, was the forecast for “2012 and beyond”. Imagine my resulting angst.

Blue, baby!

Pantone released its Spring 2014 palette a few days ago, just before New York Fashion Week opened.


Some news reports (google “Pantone color” to see which) wondered aloud if New York Fashion Week would confirm the color authority’s prediction.

Other news reports excitedly, but probably prematurely and erroneously, declared the key color of Spring 2014 as Pantone’s new Color of the Year, Dazzling Blue (methinks they’re running out of names. But I don’t blame them. They have to name thousands of colors) for 2014.


If you recall from previous posts here, as well as past articles I used to write for the decor magazine I used to work at, Pantone has a history of choosing a key hue for the season. Last year they said Spring 2013’s hot hue would be Monaco Blue. A couple of months later Pantone announced that the star color for 2013 would be Emerald Green. That’s how they get us color addicts to buy more, I guess 😉

Before stocking up for Spring 2014, you might want to check out what colors Pantone says we should be wearing this season. Despite the growing news fatigue with Pantone’s seasonal palettes (remember the backlash on Honeysuckle?), I’m still such a sucker for this.


PS See how Emerald Green is still in the mix, but it’s been supplanted by Mykonos Blue (now that’s a color name I can get on board with) on the top billing? Must be a clue to Dazzling Blue.

Design Saturday*

March 9th officially opened the International Furniture Fair Asia (IFFS) at the Changi Expo, with fringe design event Singaplural at Scape, but alphabeticalife and Sleepwalking had a different “Design Saturday” of their own in mind, and they let me tag along.

First stop was The Library x Sunny Hills, a pop-up design books-library initiated by Jing Quek and graciously hosted by cult Taiwanese pineapple tart specialist Sunny Hills.

Nourished with pineapple tart and oolong tea, we took the MRT circle line to industrial district Tai Seng / Macpherson for what we thought would be an afternoon of antiquing at Oddysey and Hock Siong.

Oddysey is a little shop selling vintage curio and refurbished furniture.


Hock Siong is a warehouse where furniture, furnishing accessories, and even mattresses discarded during hotel renovations and post-showflat-use go to find a new lease on life.


Alphabeticalife had hoped to score a pair of bookends from Oddysey or Hock Siong, but someone had already bought it. Since we were in the area, I suggested 85 Playfair Road, home of lifestyle shop Egg3 and local furniture’s design doyen Nathan Yong’s Grafunkt.

At Egg3, alphabeticalife found something to buy.

At Grafunkt, we all found something to want.
Like these pendant lights.
I have also been wanting this desk-sound system since forever.
I really like Nathan’s aesthetic.


(fortress of solitude, anyone?)
These made an appearance at the IFFS Design Space:

We ended the afternoon with authentic Italian gelato. Fitting, because the last time my feet ached so much from walking up, down and all around an industrial area was at Zona Tortona during last year’s Salone in Milan.