Despite having two spacious showrooms, one at Playfair Road, and the other at Millenia Walk, Nathan Yong, furniture designer and co- founder of Grafunkt, has bigger ideas. "Wouldnt it be so cool to have a House of Grafunkt," he asks. "A house where shoppers can experience the Grafunkt lifestyle."
His home, a black and white two-storey terrace house in Katong, is not opened to shoppers, but it comes close to what a House of Grafunkt would be. Mr Yong and his partner, who works in the IT industry, have been renting it from the Singapore Land Authority since April.
He had his eye on a home like this one, after seeing a friend live in one, for 15 years. "I chanced upon this house and bid for it," says Mr Yong. He used to live in a condo, which he found too sterile, and has since rented it out.
The 950 sq ft home comes with a front and backyard, and because it is a corner unit, it has large windows on three sides. Another plus is that from the bedroom window, Mr Yong can look out onto a large field with big trees, belonging to a school opposite.
"The area is quiet, and I like that there is plenty of outdoor space," he says. "I love how the house is bathed in natural light, sometimes too much, especially in the late afternoons when sunlight falls directly into the living room."
Despite the house being a rental, Mr Yong went ahead to make changes to the space. "But Ill return it to its original condition when it is time to move," he says.
In place of frosted glass windows, Mr Yong replaced them with clear glass. "It just makes more sense so as to be able to see all this lovely greenery," he says.
He didnt like the floor tiles which "looked cheap", so he had solid oak flooring laid over it. "Wood feels better over tiles, and the gaps between the timber planks, which have been left unlacquered, are intentional for a more natural feel."
A structural concrete pillar and beam in the living room have been painted to resemble rusted steel. The house is believed to have been built in the 1940s. "I like things that have soul, or have been used before, maybe because Im a kampong boy at heart," says Mr Yong, who has been in the industry for 16 years. He recently released his monograph which traces his thoughts and works from 2006 to 2014.
Mr Yongs love for plants is evident not only from the landscaping in both yards, but also the plentiful greens indoors, in the form of potted plants that dot various parts of the home.
Perhaps because he deals with furniture daily, Mr Yong says it was easy to furnish the home, which has a mix of Scandinavian and eclectic touches. "The space isnt that big either," he adds. The use of white and various shades of teal adds to the soothing feel.
Many of the pieces are either designed by him, or are retailing at Grafunkt. "When buying for Grafunkt, I pick pieces that I like. So if I have them at home, it means I must like them a lot," he says.
In a corner of the bedroom is a quiet sitting area, with pieces such as the Elizabeth sofa and Break stool which Mr Yong designed for Ligne Roset, and a DCW Mantis lamp by Bernard Schottlander. The sofa in the living room and the TV console are also by him for Grafunkt.
He has no qualms about buying from Ikea, "but Ill make some changes to them, such as changing the legs to the kitchen cabinets, to fit the colonial look of the home," he says.
Ask any furniture designer what pieces they have at home, and most have prototypes of their pieces. Mr Yong is no exception. He points out a wooden chair, called the Valet Chair, which is designed for hotelier Loh Lik Pengs upcoming hotel in Sydney. The chair comes with a high back, "good for hanging jackets," and a small drawer on the side.
His outdoor chaise lounge was picked up from an unusual place. "I found it on the beach, it must have drifted from Indonesia," he says. He added legs to the piece, and today it has become a great spot for him to watch the sunset.
Mr Yong writes in his book that as a child growing up in the 1970s, he had Playmobil toys, "which were quite rare at that time in Singapore. Somehow my parents were able to make enough money to buy them for me". The precious Playmobil toys now stand proud on a shelf in the dining room alongside vintage toy cars that Mr Yong collects.
A tour around the home reveals Mr Yongs other love, which he says came about unconsciously. There are animal figurines made of wood, ceramic and even concrete. "I didnt realise I had so many animals at home till a friend pointed it out," he says. He does have a real animal at home - Jagger, his pet dog.
Mr Yong says that he was also attracted to the homes squarish layout. "Why cant architects design condos this way too, instead of having funny nooks and crannies," he asks. But there is a downside to living in this terrace home: there is only one bathroom.
"But I dont think I could ever live anywhere else again," says Mr Yong.