Park + Associates has crafted a journey for creative discovery and exploration in the new and expanded Hafary Gallery.
24 June, 2022
Hafary is a well-known building material supplier in Singapore. It opened its doors in 1980 with its first showroom in Balestier. Over the decades, it has strategically added several showrooms across the island. There is Hafary Tradehub 21 in Boon Lay in the west, The Stone Gallery by Hafary in Sungei Kadut up north, and housed in its headquarters Hafary Building in the east is the Hafary Gallery that has just been augmented with a new extension. But more than another showroom, the expansion is a step up in the brand’s approach to retail engagement.
“More than shopping, the new showroom provides an immersive experience to enhance our customers’ design journey,” says Jackson Tay, Hafary’s Chief Operating Officer. The extension occupies its own floor on the third level of the building (the existing showroom is on the second level). With the addition of the new floor, Hafary Gallery is 3,995 square metres brimming with a trove of materials – a playground to make any self-respecting designer feel like a child in a toy store.
“The aim of the new showroom is to empower the design and architectural community in Singapore and to introduce them to the various innovative materials that can be used to realise their design vision,” says Tay.
Designed by Park + Associates, Hafary Gallery is an experiential journey crafted and curated from Hafary’s large material arsenal, with an emphasised use of its tile and stone collections. The showroom is planned as a series of typologies catering to Hafary’s mixed client profiles. There are residential settings of The Villa, The Mansion, The Apartment, but also commercial scenarios for retail and hospitality. Behind the narrative of surrealism and fantasy crafted to delight, surprise and inspire, is a strategy that showcases Hafary’s products via material display, use, and application.
“What we’re trying to do is not just to have room after room that portrays real-life settings, but really to just let your imagination go a bit silly about what tiles can do,” says Christina Thean, Director of Park + Associates. “We were quite excited to use tiles in many different ways, and not just on walls and floors,” Thean adds.
As part of the project, Park + Associates and Hafary went to Milan on a study trip to visit factories including Florim and Mirage. They also spent three days at Cersaie, the ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings fair in Bologna.
The gallery showcases Hafary’s entire collection of large format porcelain slabs. These tiles, the largest of which come up to some 3.24 metres (3240×1620 mm), are relatively new products that Hafary introduced in 2019.
The idea is for the gallery to spark creative – even technical – exploration with both new and existing products. In The Mansion’s Wine Cellar for example, water jet-cut tiles in organic shapes add a surprising graphical element to the floor. “I was thinking we should do something really fluid just to show the possibilities.” Thean recalls.
In The Villa’s Bathroom, the shower screens are made from Mirage Glocal Perfect GC02 tiles. “When we mention indoor screens, one typically thinks of timber slats or aluminium hollow sections. At the Hafary showroom, we resized large format tiles into strips and detailed them to stand vertically. The end product is similar to that of timber or aluminium screens, except the lines are more crisp and more durable,” says Thean.
The overall atmosphere of surrealism and fantasy and the deliberate mixing of tiles and stones in the gallery are designed to suspend judgment and erase preconceived ideas that customers may have. “It is more about what you like, not about the prestige that is attached to certain materials,” Thean explains. “I hear that customers here go, ‘Oh I like this material. Is it marble? Is it a tile? Is it a stone?’ They can’t tell.”
This approach – not so much in showcasing products as in letting them be discovered by an open mind – goes a long way for a brand like Hafary.
This article originally appeared on Cubes Issue #102
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