The Kitchen: Brewing Up A Home

Far from being hidden at the backs of houses like they used to be, kitchens now stand proud at the heart of dinner parties and family bonding sessions. Feast on these kitchens by Collective Designs, which are built to inspire the creation of not merely food, but ultimately, homes.

Updated on June 13, 2017 8:06 am

Xiangyun Lim (Alexa)


No longer are kitchens small, dank spaces relegated to the backs of houses. These days, kitchens stand proudly visible and unwalled beside living and dining areas, announced with welcoming island counters fronting sleek appliances. Dinner parties gravitate towards them where invitees chat over drinks and canapes prepared right before them—or with them. Only when the clock strikes dinner hour does the crowd migrate to the dining table or outdoor patio for a more formal, sit-down occasion.

After all, food can nourish more than just the body. In Asian cultures, meals are often made up of different dishes meant for sharing rather than as stand-alones. In these meals, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts—especially when the underlying meaning is taken into account. Traditionally, however, the preparation is a far lonelier process behind the scenes as a silent form of expressing love in Asian culture, as Selina Tay, the founder of Collective Designs, believes.

“Most conservative Asian families don’t do hugs or show affection physically; they display their care and love through food,” the principal designer says.

An eight-course meal from a Michelin-starred restaurant still lacks the luxury of returning to home-cooked dishes after a long day of work, for what the dishes contain is secondary; the main ingredient is love.

Coronation West by Collective Designs

The perception of food as more than just physical nutrition, coupled with modernisation, has naturally thrown more focus on kitchen spaces, shaping them to carry dual purposes as social and living spaces. This was, in fact, the exact request by the owners of a house at Coronation West—they wanted to be able to spend time together in the kitchen. This called for an overhaul of the formerly dark, small and isolated space into a freshly lit area, which encourages the family to connect here through preparing and consuming food and drinks.

Coronation West by Collective Designs

This acceptance, and even expectation of kitchens carrying dual roles, comes especially timely in light of the shrinking Singaporean home. Keeping the space open and spacious becomes a priority, fitted with efficiently designed appliances.

“We have designed many open-concept kitchens which integrates from or into the living and dining area to enhance the space visually, especially in apartments,” Selina says.

Through more than 1,000 project and over a decade of experience, Selina keeps by the principle of flow, utilising her broad knowledge of materials to achieve sustainability and compatibility whilst meeting the needs and preferences of each home. Existing spaces are maximised in a marriage of art and function that prioritises natural light and air.

Sunset Way by Collective Designs

The transformation of kitchens into social spaces can be more than integrated dry kitchens, as in case of a heritage house on Meyer Road, which had their outhouse at the rear of the house demolished to create a separate glassed 1,100sq ft kitchen space that can host up to 35 guests comfortably.

Meyer Road by Collective Designs

Constructed entirely of glass panels on three sides, this space can be accessed from the main house via a little staircase and doorway. With a soaring pitched roof, timbre beams and surrounding view of greenery and the sky, the space boasts dining experiences carrying the style of fine dining infused with the comfort and warmth of home.

Meyer Road by Collective Designs

As the co-partner of Mudian Crafted, a kitchen and wardrobe specialist, and the author of a book focused on her custom-designed kitchens, Selina’s Dream Kitchens, It may come as no surprise that Selina is an avid cook and foodie herself. To her, the kitchen “is a place in any home to be inspired.”

And it should be. It isn’t just food that simmers there, but also conversation and creation, brewed into a warm concoction of memory and kinship every day. That’s what fills a house with the smell of home, isn’t it?

Photos by Collective Designs


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