Best and worst 2016: Design


• Stunning hotel interiors and architecture

Architects and interior designers pulled out all the stops to get noticed in the crowded hospitality scene this year. Instead of cookie-cutter interiors, hotels have designed niche features to cater to their clientele. At least seven hotels made their debut or were refurbished this year.

Standouts include the new Oasia Hotel Downtown. Covered in greenery, it is an eye-catching building amid the grey-looking Central Business District. It comes with sky gardens, a wooden-decked infinity pool and sophisticated interiors by Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola.

Meanwhile, the 293-room Philippe Starck-designed M Social (pictured) in Robertson Quay, which opened in June, has all the trimmings of a contemporary yet cosy hangout for millennials. There are plenty of communal spaces for the guests to mingle, see and be seen.

The 293-room Philippe Starck-designed MSocial in Robertson Quay PHOTO: M SOCIAL

• Singapore design on the international scene

Singapore designers and architects featured heavily on the international design circuit this year.

For example, at the Milan Design Week and the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano in April, the world's most prestigious furniture fair, works and installations by home-grown designers such as Studio Juju and Lanzavecchia + Wai were displayed in prime spots around the city. The Singapore pavilion atthe Venice Architecture Biennale, which opened in May, showcased the country's urban farming methods and images of how citizens live in public housing.

Architects such as Woha and SCDA Architects also won at big competitions such as the World Architecture Festival.

• Gardens by the Bay

The attraction kept visitors returning by putting on new and creative displays all year through. For example, there was a display of dahlias, which are from a cooler climate.

The Gardens' team, which scoured the world to find exotic or interesting plants for its displays here, also brought a slice of Africa to Singapore with a South African floral show featuring 10,000 plants.

The horticulturists get the thumbs up for constantly experimenting to expand Singapore's plant diversity. This year, they succeeded at growing a bigger crop of dahlias as well as 2,500 plants for the South African floral display.

The Gardens also hosted the annual Singapore Garden Festival, which drew about 400,000 people with its gorgeous show gardens, floral displays and gardening marketplace. This number is higher than the last edition in 2014, which was attended by 300,000.


• Maison&Objet Asia pulls out of Singapore

The French organisers of the interior design trade fair pulled the plug on its Asian offshoot last month - just four months before the event was to take place. They cited a lack of interest from European brands to take up booth space in the current gloomy economic outlook.

This means brands and designers, who had planned to use the event to launch products, now have to find other avenues to showcase the pieces.

The event's departure also leaves a hole in the Singapore Design Week calendar. When the show was in town for the last three years, it brought buzz to the design scene. Organisers for the design week will now have to work extra hard to keep the event vibrant.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'Home & Garden'. Subscribe