In Good Shape

Depending on who you ask, a home can be many things. For some, it’s a place to seek refuge from the stresses of daily life. For others, it’s where they bask in the company of loved ones, safe in the knowledge that they’re not alone. Some will tell you that home could be anywhere in the world, as long as they are with the right people. But no matter who you ask, a home is often a combination of these things and more; a place where various aspects of life unfolds.

Evidently, we ask a lot of our homes. But in land-scarce Singapore, this presents a unique conundrum: our homes, while small, must also serve as offices, event halls and gyms, simply because their actual counterparts are often too crowded or costly to utilise. This, however, is easier said than done. With each additional function we require our homes to perform, a wholly different set of furniture and homeware is needed. These are items few can afford to keep in storage, and has rendered the ideal modern home an elusive and often expensive target to reach.

It’s no surprise then, that Singaporeans have begun to demand furniture that are both versatile and multifunctional. A shelf must no longer provide just storage space, but be customisable and even decorative. And this is the direction that furniture makers and sellers are starting to move towards, Japanese lifestyle retailer MUJI amongst them. Since its inception, the brand has upheld their philosophy of producing items that are stripped of superfluous features, and which can be adapted to fit seamlessly into any user’s lifestyle.

This vision, which they’ve termed Compact Life, has driven the creation of homeware that go towards realising a “simple, pleasant life”; products that simultaneously speak to the most fussy and exacting of shoppers, while providing precisely the qualities that are necessary. It’s an ideal that has never been more relevant or appealing than in today’s context of material wealth and extravagance, and one that many have welcomed eagerly. To start the new year off on the right note, this first of a two-part guide offers a selection of tips for organising a home’s dining and living spaces.

Dining Room & Kitchen

For a space that, at its most basic level, hardly needs anything more than a table and some chairs, a dining room can be surprisingly difficult to furnish. It’s the place where guests are usually hosted, so seating capacity must be scaled up and down frequently. Storage space, when used inefficiently, prevents tableware and food from being put away neatly.

Living RoomIn good shape: MUJI Living

As a communal space where families gather for conversation and relaxation, the living room is witness to a large part of the daily routine. When a game of chess or a movie screening calls for it, alternative arrangements to the room are necessary to cut out distraction and to facilitate more immersive experiences.

Read more in The U Press N˚14 (Singapore edition).