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The Life E-magazine: Affairs with shophouses, Japan's "art" Islands and more

Highlights from the October issue of The Life e-magazine



Married couple Jaelle Ang and Yian Huang have had a longstanding love affair with shophouses.

Drawn to their history and architectural features, they searched for three years to find the right one with "good bones and good light".

Many home-owners like them are rediscovering the charm of shophouses. Those interviewed have done up their homes in ways that seamlessly blend the old with the new. For example, Ms Ang and Mr Huang's pre-war shophouse in Emerald Hill features a quaint exterior and a cool industrial vibe inside.


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Think bare concrete flooring, exposed brick walls that were part of the original architecture and an open concept plan.

Watch a video in The Life of Ms Ang talking about the creation of her dream home.

Natasha Ann Zachariah


How do you revive remote islands with ageing populations?

Around the Seto Inland Sea in western Japan, Benesse Holdings and its affiliate, the Futatake Foundation, have arrived at a beautiful solution: Start art museums to draw younger people to Teshima, Naoshima and other islands.

Accordingly, many of the projects are designed to be site-specific: This is not art that can be reduced to an image and enjoyed vicariously through Instagram on your smartphone. This is art you have to be there to experience it for yourself.

In Naoshima Bath "I Love Yu", a bathhouse created by artist Shinro Ohtake, you have to strip and shower to get to the art, such as mosaics in a hot pool.

In Teshima Art Museum, a surreal building created by architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito, you have to wander around to discover quiet wonders. The floor secretes water. The air swooshes when you venture under an oval opening in the ceiling.

Foong Woei Wan


Maggie Joan's is an underground restaurant that is worth discovering. The entrance is in a deserted backlane off Gemmill Lane - even though the address states Amoy Street - and is marked by a narrow, plain door.

Inside, you are greeted by a small dining room, but even while you are thinking to yourself how tiny it is, you are led further in where there is another dining area plus a small private room at the end. The decor is a mix of raw and classy, with exposed brick walls, chandeliers and heavy wooden furniture.

The food is inspired by Mediterranean flavours, although the dishes are not from any particular cuisine. Check out dishes such as Egg, Dukkah & Saffron Mayo ($6), a lightly poached egg rolled in a dry mix of sesame, coriander, cumin, hazelnut and panko, then deep-fried quickly to form an aromatic crust.

Or the Grilled Iberico Pork Secreto, Prunes & Cauliflower ($34, above), with the pork jowl brined and sous vide to get it tender before being grilled in a charcoal oven.

Wong Ah Yoke


He brought joy to many with his global pop hit Happy and has helped artists - from rap mogul Jay-Z to electronic music stalwarts Daft Punk to soul-pop singer Robin Thicke - achieve mainstream chart-toppers.

But what Pharrell Williams, 42, would really like to do, is to fly, figuratively.

The 10-time Grammy-winning American singer, composer, producer and fashion designer was in town recently for the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, where he performed to 50,000 fans at a concert.

In the column My Life, he talks about his guilty pleasure and idea of luxury.

Eddino Abdul Hadi


When it comes to decorating the home, most people pay attention to obvious areas, such as the living room, the bedroom and the kitchen, and overlook the bathroom.

Given that this is where most people start their day, it pays to add a little more style and comfort to one's daily routine.

See The Life's pick of bathroom furnishings, from Toto's Neorest GH suite with state-of-the-art toilet technology, to an artisanal white ceramic sink with gold Persian detailing by Kohler that will transform a functional bathroom into an inviting one.

Alyssa Woo

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline The Life E-magazine: Affairs with shophouses, Japan's "art" Islands and more. Subscribe