Sphere Living's New Furniture Showroom In Singapore Celebrates Its Italian Connections
Even as a teenager, Derek Tan knew that he had found his calling. The Singapore-based entrepreneur was a frequent visitor to his father’s furniture factory during his adolescent years, gradually learning and discovering the ways in which each sofa was made.
When his father decided to relocate the business from Singapore to Shanghai, Tan made the bold move to start a new factory here as part of his furnishings company, TLE (formerly known as The Living Elements Interior). Founded in 2005, the firm specialises in the production of fabrics, wall coverings and custom-made furniture for hospitality and commercial projects; recent clients include Shangri-La Hotel and Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore.
This year, the company founded Sphere Living, a new showroom concept that retails and distributes a curated collection of furniture pieces from Italian brands including Alivar, Black Tie, Cipriani Homood, Dema, Reflex Angelo, Tonon and Ulivi. “We started looking into brands from Italy that have not been introduced to Singapore,” explains Tan. “We don’t just sell furniture; we provide styling services as well, with a team led by our design director Siti Radiyah.”
The showroom at The Herencia presents inspiring vignettes comprising a mix-and-match of pieces from the made-in-Italy brands. Take for instance, the pendant lights from Reflex Angelo that float above a Tonon dining set, while a Stepevi rug lends a plush touch underfoot.
The firm has ambitious plans to expand its sphere of influence in Asia and beyond; its name is inspired by the company’s aspirations for global expansion. “We want to go beyond Singapore. We’re going to have another Sphere Living showroom in Shanghai, which is almost 5,000 sqft,” shares Tan. Here, he discusses the key brands that are exclusive to the furniture retailer in Singapore.
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“Reflex Angelo was the first Italian brand that I approached. Their lighting pieces and tables are made with Murano glass, which is produced in their own factory in Italy,” says Tan. The brand is known for its “marble glass” digital printing system—this marble-effect design can be printed onto glass surfaces, which can be used as tabletops or wall panels.
Another winning element: the collections designed by Pininfarina Home Design, an Italian studio known for its work with Ferrari and Maserati. The worlds of fast cars and furniture collide in these pieces, harnessing the studio’s finesse in streamlined automobile design in its Segno collection, which includes sofa systems, sideboards, coffee tables and other complementary pieces.
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This Italian firm was founded by Pier Luigi Frighetto, an entrepreneur who has collaborated with the likes of internationally renowned designers including Karim Rashid, Ross Lovegrove and Patrick Norguet. “Although the brand has been in the market for less than 10 years, its unique mix of materials and the unusual shapes of its retro-style furniture collections made it stand out when we saw its booth at the Salone del Mobile fair this year,” shares Tan.
(Related: The Furniture Collections You Need To See At Salone Del Mobile 2019)
Established in Pisa, Italy, Cipriani Homood focuses on crafting handmade pieces that feature an elegant mix of wood, glass and Italian marble. “This brand is known for its workmanship and beautiful veneer-finished furniture,” says Tan. “The veneer selected for storage units, such as sideboards, and cabinets can be customised.” Key collections include Dragonfly, which features a dining table and upholstered chairs with veneered armrests.
Founded in 1926, this furniture manufacturer brings with it nearly a century of history. Combining its expertise in bent wood with innovative new materials such as soft-touch polyplus, a type of injected polyurethane foam, its collections pair creative decorative details with functional style. “Tonon has modern and versatile pieces that are also weather-proof; its outdoor collections will come to our Singapore showroom soon,” adds Tan. “Aside from its unique, eye-catching style, the innovative designs from Tonon really capture our attention.”
Sphere Living | 46 Kim Yam Road, #01-09 The Herenica | 6388 9828
- Photography (showroom and portrait) Benny Loh