SINGAPORE – Barely a month after Christmas, preparations are already in full swing to usher in the Year of the Water Rabbit on Jan 22.
Tinsel has given way to rabbit ornaments and other bright red-and-gold paraphernalia, which many Chinese regard as auspicious elements that attract wealth and luck into the home.
According to geomancer Mark Tan from Way Fengshui Group, the lucky colours for the Year of the Water Rabbit – “which is expected to be filled with opportunities” – are blue, silver, black and white.
These colours represent the Metal and Water elements which are key for 2023.
Besides decorative accents, another new year must-have for many families is a “lucky” plant.
At Far East Flora, plants such as Four Season limes, pussy willows in a range of hues from reds to blues as well as pink phalaenopsis and yellow cymbidium orchids are flying off the shelves.
Mr Peter Cheok, sales and marketing director of plant nursery Far East Flora, says these plants – which are imported from Malaysia, China, Taiwan and the Netherlands – are sought after every year to be displayed in homes and offices, as they are a part of Chinese tradition for ringing in the new year.
“Besides the annual favourites such as lime trees and orchids, our new attraction for 2023 is the lucky Longevity Lemon shrub,” adds Mr Cheok, 43.
“With its abundance of fruit, its pleasant fragrance and the health benefits of the fruit, this plant also symbolises abundance, protection, longevity and happiness.”
The Straits Times picks eight festive accents to create bunny buzz this Chinese New Year.
Kelly Ser Atelier
Former civil servant Kelly Ser left a high-flying career to focus on art in 2021, more than a decade after completing her studies in Britain.
After getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Imperial College London and a master’s in water science and policy management from the University of Oxford, she found her true calling, rendering the facades of Joo Chiat and painting the Merlion in vibrant colours.
“Inspired by my Singaporean identity and life experiences, I transform traditional architecture, landmarks and mundane daily routines into modern contemporary creations,” says the 36-year-old, who adds that art was her favourite subject in secondary school.
Her work is sold through the Kelly Ser Atelier webstore in the form of art prints, notebooks, magnets and coasters.
After completing several large art installations and commissions around the world, from Singapore and Malaysia to Spain and the Czech Republic, she has honed her painting style and now focuses on themes that capture Singapore’s milestones.
One of her best-selling works is the Not Just A Little Red Dot collection, featuring shophouse facades in Joo Chiat, Chinese lanterns and the Merlion, which are available in a series of coasters and stationery.
She founded Kelly Ser Atelier not just as a platform to showcase art, but also as an “avenue to give back to society through art such as charity auctions, public wall murals and raising awareness on mindfulness”.
Info: Prices range from $10 for a magnet to $290 for a limited-edition framed print. Ser’s works can be found in physical stores such as Design Orchard as well as on her website at https://str.sg/wFdF
MusicCloth Paper Cut Rabbits
In the last few months, Scene Shang has moved to a showroom in Orchard Road and expanded the range of designs on its webstore. It closed its Tai Seng showroom just before Christmas.
The move will give founder and principal designer Jessica Wong more bandwidth to work on collaborations and new product releases, and source for new suppliers.
The brand is one of six retail and food and beverage partners in the 20,000 sq ft showroom in Wisma Atria, which is OCBC Bank’s largest integrated lifestyle and banking branch in the heart of Singapore’s famous shopping belt.
A highlight of Scene Shang’s new range is a pair of stylised rabbits in a wooden frame that first appears to be made of cloth. On closer inspection, one realises the “cloth” is made of tapes from old cassettes that have been woven into a special fabric called MusicCloth.
It is by home-grown upcycling studio Rehyphen, which collaborated with Ms Wong to produce the A4-size MusicCloth Paper Cut Rabbits, which are priced at $179 and come in a walnut frame.
Info: Go to Scene Shang’s physical store at OCBC Lifestyle Concept Branch at Level 4 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, or online at https://str.sg/wFdt.
Red hot porcelain collection
French luxury fashion brand Hermes has an extensive collection of tableware that runs the gamut from its Passifolia range, which features a colour-burst of tropical flora and foliage, to its Hippomobile line with equestrian motifs.
Especially appealing is its Balcon du Guadalquivir tableware, designed by renowned illustrator Arielle de Brichambaut.
Brichambaut was inspired by Andalusian homes along the banks of the Guadalquivir in southern Spain, which display lace-like patterns in their wrought-iron balconies. This porcelain collection highlights their exuberance in its signature fiery red hue.
Info: Prices range from $155 for a bread and butter plate to $2,150 for a large platter. Hermes stores are at Marina Bay Sands, Liat Towers, Takashimaya Department Store and Singapore Changi Airport. Go to https://str.sg/wFdy
Table Matters is not only a one-stop shop for home essentials such as crockery and cutlery, but also home to one of the most affordably priced ranges of tableware in Singapore.
Priced from $3 for a serving bowl to $36 for a marble cheese board, the brand features more than 1,000 designs at its stores in Singapore, as well as at resellers islandwide.
Every piece in the homeware collection is also said to be safe to use.
The brand bears the safety certification of SGS, a world-leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, which ensures that harmful substances are not used in the products. These include lead, cadmium, decorative platinum and gold, which are not safe for popping into the microwave.
Info: Table Matters has shops at 20 Temple Street, i12 Katong, Jewel Changi Airport and Star Vista. The range is also carried by BHG, Yue Hwa and NTUC outlets. For the full list of stores and to shop online, go to https://str.sg/wFdV
Limited-edition Jingdezhen vase
For the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, Shanghai Tang has released a vase produced in the famed “porcelain capital” of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province in southern China.
The design features two openings. One side has a wide mouth for flowers and foliage to spread out in a Western-style bouquet. With the narrow mouth, zen-like minimalism can be achieved to evoke a more Asian vibe.
The limited-edition milky white porcelain vase is fired in the kilns of Jingdezhen, which has been producing some of the world’s most coveted works for more than 1,000 years.
Each piece is handmade by porcelain craftsmen to fully demonstrate a respect for traditional craftsmanship and aesthetics.
For the Year of the Rabbit, the Hong Kong luxury label features an idyllic Imperial Garden painting on the vase, with some parts made of real gold. There are two rabbits, one moving and the other static.
Info: The E. P. Vase (which is an English translation of the Chinese name of the vase) is priced at $715 and available at Shanghai Tang boutiques and online at https://str.sg/wFdC
Ikea’s festive Fossta line
Hop into the Year of the Rabbit with a range of Chinese New Year decor accents brought in by Swedish furniture giant Ikea.
Create bunny buzz with the battery-operated LED table lantern in festive red, which shows rabbit motifs when illuminated.
The range also includes plum blossom prints and traditional Chinese ink and brush paintings.
You can also tuck into festive fare at the Swedish Restaurant and Swedish Food Market, as well as enjoy lion dance performances and join family-friendly workshops.
Info: The Fossta range starts at $9.90 for a serving bowl to $68 for a duvet cover set. Shop and join in the Chinese New Year celebrations for the whole family across all Ikea stores till Sunday. For details, go to https://str.sg/wFdj
Exquisite Waterlily Mug
The Wedgwood collection of fine bone china dates back to 1759, when founder Josiah Wedgwood started a pottery factory in Burslem, England, at the age of 29.
Fast-forward more than 250 years later and the brand has become synonymous with table art meant for collecting.
To start your own Wedgwood collection, look no further than the Waterlily Mug. It is believed to have been perfected in the 1800s by another member of the family, John Wedgwood, founder of the Royal Horticultural Society of England. His love of documenting flora and fauna resulted in a series of drawings of giant water lilies of the South American Amazon river basin.
The Waterlily Mug features an ornate handle with luxe gold banding and is packed in Wedgwood’s signature gift box.
Info: Priced at $98 and available at the Wedgwood shop at B1 Takashimaya Department Store, 391 Orchard Road. Go to https://str.sg/wFdH
Longevity Lemon Tree
Far East Flora
The topiary Longevity Lemon Tree from Far East Flora thrives outdoors or in a sunny apartment balcony. It needs about eight to 12 hours of unobstructed light a day to produce its juicy, fragrant fruit.
The mini-trees, which are imported from China, grow well when the soil is moist but not over-saturated. Simply water till the soil is soaked through and the excess flows out from the bottom of the pot.
Far East Flora’s Longevity Lemon potted trees come in one size measuring about 2m in height and are priced at $380 each.
Info: Go to Far East Flora’s nursery at 565 Thomson Road or https://str.sg/wFdz