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WFH – The Design Bridge Singapore Edition

Welcome to the third edition of DB Working From Home, the Singapore Edition.

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? Many of us here have been working from home since mid-February. It’s been such a long time; it feels normal now.

Besides, how would WFH in Singapore be any different to WFH anywhere else? Our homes aren’t that different – we sleep in beds and work at desks – it’s culture that makes places different. It’s the bustling streets, markets, temples, warm people and local cuisine that makes Japan feel like Japan. And, locked inside our homes, it’s these subtleties we simply cannot access. Our new world feels totally homogenised, just like the IKEA furniture that now fills home offices all over the world.

The reality is that many of us in Singapore actually are working at IKEA desks. Drawn to Asia by the lure of cheap travel, a tropical climate and low taxes, we spend our money on experiences, not things or houses. Take my family as an example; last year we visited more countries in one year than we had in the previous five years combined!

So, while we yearn for weekends spent on exotic islands that are so close, yet so far, we’re now re-kindling our love for this island we find ourselves confined on.

Fortunately we’re not just a Studio of expats so, following on in the spirit of Amsterdam and New York, I have invited a broad mix of people to share a little slice of their working from home…


Andie Ngoh, Senior Client Manager
“Behind the laptop is the everyday endeavour to ensure that somewhat healthy meals are on time, Yakult supply is in the fridge, clean clothes and sheets are available, the floor is safe enough to eat food off and, most importantly, ensuring that this stay-home period is a magical time for an almost 3-year-old. Our art collection is growing rapidly – from abstract animal paintings, odd egg characters and T-Rex paper plate masks, a shoe box fire truck, amazon shipper sports car and a cereal box Paw Patrol trailer, I get the grand role of Creative Director at home every day.”


Hieu Trieu, Senior Designer
“For those that know me, they know that I like a curated environment. For some reason a clean and tidy desktop helps me think and work better. I also love to be surrounded by nature, although the view at home is not quite the scene you may expect. I purchased a few plant pots to green the balcony, and inside my wooden gazelle sculpture (all the way from Bali) acts as a reminder for me to work hard and make the most of nature when we can get back out into it.”


Pia Facundo, Client Director
“It’s common knowledge that I love these black & white bears (I’ve just postponed a trip to Chengdu, China to go and see them). I have definitely received more than my fair share of panda-themed anything over the years, including the ones that keep me company at my dining/work table. Cute as they all are, they’re also great little reminders of all the amazing people I’m lucky to have in my life.”


Kingsley Lu, Client Director
“I’m the male equivalent of a ‘Crazy Cat Lady’. Our apartment is littered with cat paraphernalia and we’ve even allocated a room specially for our two Russian Blue girls, unimaginatively named as ‘The Cats’ Room’ (I now have the privilege of sharing it with them as I work from home). We picked up this nice little cat porcelain figurine at a Christmas market in Krakow. It’s a tad kitsch, but it looks pretty  – to me, anyway – and makes me laugh.”


Sam Foster, Design Director & Christie Widjaja, Senior Designer
“Ironically, we must be the only people that are closer together as a result of us all trying to socially distance! Everyone needs a break, though, so we are super grateful to have our little outdoor space. Whether it’s just a quick moment with a cup of tea or a BBQ on the weekend, we love being able to get some fresh air.”


Rachel Ong, Senior Operations Manager
“I can go quite crazy over gachapon (capsule toys) whenever I’m in Tokyo, which explains why I have random mini figurines lying around at home and on my office desk, too. They are just too cute to look at. Wise kitty on my WFH desk reminds me daily to stay zen and carry on!”


Tim Siro, Executive Creative Director (working from home in Saigon)
“The first image shows my office, the empty café of empty picture frames. This is the view everyone sees of me on Teams every day.

But there is one picture amongst the countless empty frames. A view of the café’s owner Bambi, walking on a dirt track near her coffee farm in the highlands of Vietnam. She is my wife’s best friend and my daughter’s magical fairy godmother. Her grandfather was married to the last queen of Saigon as the last cinder of Vietnam’s monarchy was extinguished under communism. Her family was one of the first to plant coffee in Vietnam during the French administration. After the American war her parents ancestral home in Saigon was stripped by the victorious Northern regime. She has a talent for daydreaming. As a teenager she was daydreaming on her motorbike and suffered the most horrific accident . When modern medicine failed to pull her out of paralysis, she was bathed and treated with eel’s blood to the point of full recovery. Bambi makes obscure café’s out of found and recycled materials. She never wastes anything. Ever.”


Phil Dall, Creative Director
“One of the good (and bad) things about our apartment is the abundance of built in furniture. As someone who has a love for cabinet making, this veneer-laden interior is not quite to my taste. But this built-in desk has been incredibly useful over the past few months and, with us being on the ground floor, at least I have a lovely view onto the greenery outside.

When I left South Africa about fifteen years ago one of my closest friends gave me this duo of Max Rebo and his counterpart Doda Bodonawieedo, from the first Star Wars trilogy. They have adorned many desks; from tiny flats in London to our house in Surrey, and now to here. My daughter Pip is convinced they are hers, and frequently wants to play with “Dooda’s blue elephant” – to which I say, “No darling, that is Max Rebo – please get it right next time!”.”


Fazli Rahman, IT Support Technician
“As busy as my days are helping those who need IT assistance (there is no shortage of that!), I’m enjoying having a little more time to noodle with my trusty sidekick travel guitar. Being able to slide into another form of creativity after a long day gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that may have been lost, or at least not yet fully explored.”


Bianca Mente, Senior Designer
“My husband and I just recently moved to Singapore so being stuck at home, and not able to explore our new surroundings, feels a bit odd. However, our new flat is very cosy and bright, and I can see palm trees from my desk – amazing!

This little red box was a leaving gift from my former colleagues in Beijing and it contains a traditional Chinese stamp with my name. Just like Chinese people pick an English name to ease the communication with international teams and clients, I was given a Chinese name when I started working in Beijing. My colleague chose the name ‘Meng Bixia’ for me, which sounds similar to Bianca Mente.”


Next to share their WFH spaces will be the London team and I am passing the challenge on to Mike Stride to lead it…

Curated and introduced by Phil Dall, a Creative Director at Design Bridge Singapore.


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