Paulina Böhm admires a robe from the Qing dynasty at Shang Antique

Paulina Böhm may be German in origin, but her spirit is very much Singaporean. Having lived here for almost 20 years, the former architect has wholeheartedly embraced the local culture. Her fondness for Asian design has definitely extended into her home. “I love Asian furniture,” she confesses, her eyes lighting up as she describes a Peranakan chest that she recently purchased.

It’s not surprising that she was visibly excited upon seeing the heritage-rich pieces at Shang Antique. Owned by Freddy Chua who has been collecting antiques for over 30 years, the antiquarian and restorer specialises in all manner of Asian artifacts, from the second right up until the 19th century. 

On our visit, we spotted a trio of robes from the Qing dynasty hanging overhead that piqued everyone's curiosity. Outside in the yard, there was a selection of outdoor furniture that recalls Paulina’s favourite period (the late 1920s to early 1950s) when, as she puts it “East really met West”. 

Here, we take a closer look at the myriad heritage-rich finds in store:

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Asian Treasures

Now occupying three sites across the city, Shang Antique houses myriad museum-quality items. A 19th-century red Chinoiserie desk vies for space next to a third-century frieze, while a 11th-century statue may be placed beside a collection of ancient pottery. Other remarkable finds include an ancestor painting from the 19th century as well as a pair of teak wood statues sourced from Mandalay, Myanmar (seen above, on the left).

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Cultural Connections

Most of the wares on display have been personally sourced by Chua, who regularly scours Southeast Asia in search of authentic goods. For Paulina, it is a constant source of amazement. Although her love of Asian-inspired decor knows no bounds, she ensures that her home doesn’t become a cliché by weaving in modern pieces. To achieve the same in your abode, try Paulina's decor tip: juxtapose Eastern pieces with streamlined items from European brands to create an interesting, multicultural aesthetic.

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Oriental Soul

Like all Asian artifacts from Shang Antique, these ornamental boxes not only are a delight to behold; they’re also history-rich pieces from the 19th century. In particular, the large elm wood jewellery box astonishes with its lacquered depiction of a garden scene.

(Related: 8 Non-Cliché Ways To Add Eastern Style To Your Home)

History Class

Paulina learns more the origins of pieces such as  such as the Qing dynasty robe that she was examining earlier, as told to her by an attending staff. The intricate garment features nine dragons: three on the front, three on the back, two on each shoulder, as well as a hidden ninth dragon, which is featured on the inner sleeves of the robe.

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On Exhibit

Paulina also takes an instant affinity to this display cabinet at the store. While the cabinet itself is not for sale, it contains several heritage-rich pieces that any collector will covet. Learn more about the storied history of these pieces from Shang Antique's well-informed team, who are happy to share more about the provenance of each object. 

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Styling and production: Khairul Ali
Photography: Franz Navarrete, assisted by Chan Zhi Wei
Hair and makeup: Lydia Thong/ makeup entourage, using Clé de Peau Beauté
Sittings editor and additional reporting: Hong Xinying

Shang Antique is located at three locations, including 26 Dempsey Road, #01-03, Tel: 6388 8838.  

Tags: decor, Asian artifacts, Shang Antique, Asian antiques