Two Australians are carving a region-wide design niche from sunny Singapore. Here’s the Distillery story.
14 July, 2011
Established just 4 years ago in Singapore by Australians Matthew Shang and Paul Semple, Distillery may be a young design studio but has already made a mark in the industry. Their portfolio stretches from residential work to commercial shop and office spaces to hospitality projects, all of which have been very well-received by all quarters.
It is probably not a big surprise to note that Shang and Semple both have had experience in highly regarded design and architectural firms before setting up Distillery; their last positions were at WOHA and Kerry Hill respectively.
South Coast Singapore
The boys have also deliberately kept their organisation lean. “Our attitude is simple: when our clients employ us, they want to work with us.”
It was Shang who first braved the concrete wilds of Singapore, and later encouraged Semple to change his base. “While initially I was unsure of the decision Singapore has proven to be a great place to both live and work and this is the best and most important decision we have made together,” says Semple.
This is partly because of the work. “Asia is increasingly becoming the financial centre of the world and Singapore is a key part of that. It’s a simple equation: there is an enormous amount of work in Singapore.”
Distillery has, in fact, continued to work with other Australians who are also looking to leave a commercial mark in Singapore and the region, one of the most recent being South Coast, a pair of casual dining bistro-and-bars located in Singapore and Hong Kong opened by Kate McGettigan whose family owned and ran pubs in Sydney for years.
South Coast Hong Kong
South Coast’s design concept is quintessentially Australian with strong references to harbour-side pools, changing sheds and coastal homes; this informs all the elements of the space. The tiles and specially made lanterns are, in particular, strong elements that add to the overall concept.
On future projects, Semple enthusiastically reveals: “We are very excited about our upcoming hotel project, a new build hotel in the Maldives working with the Bali-based architect Yew Kuan of Area designs. We are also working with a very high quality furniture manufacturer and retailer here in Singapore to collaborate on furniture collections.”
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