Interior Design Project Info
Ahome often serves as more than just a place of shelter, it’s an expression of the residents’ personalities and aspirations. For this multi-generational family home
in Muar, Johor, the owner had purchased a large 3 storey bungalow with approximately 10,000 sq ft of interior space and 4,000 sq ft
of courtyard area. His father was recovering from an accident and the client wanted to transform the home into a dwelling where his father could convalesce in comfort. To achieve this, he engaged S/LAB 10, a design practice founded in Sydney, Australia with operations in Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.
The client had found the firm through word of mouth via contractors that they had collaborated with before and after a brief meeting in Muar, the client took the initiative to visit S/LAB 10’s Johor Bahru office for further discussion and confirmation. “We
always believe a good final product is the result of teamwork which involves the client, the designer and builder. We were touched and inspired by the client’s enthusiasm for this project. We had the impression that he wanted to create something special as an appreciation for what the father had done for the family,” recalls Hao Wang, one of the two founders of S/LAB 10. “Basically, the brief was to build a home for the family to enjoy, especially for the father who has worked very hard all his life. The client believes in design and how designed spaces could benefit a person’s health, lifestyle and experience.”
While the project came with the existing layout by the architect, the designers believed there was great potential for better planning. To this end, they shuffled the layout, loosened the space and generated more open space that they term as “breathing space” by connecting the indoor and outdoor in an attempt to blur the lines in between. “The design was very much driven by loosening and creating spaces that juxtaposed to another space meaningfully. Be it in and out, or up and down, vertically and horizontally,” states Wang.
To enhance this “breathing space” the designers looked to incorporating natural materials. “Our intention from the inception was to focus on natural materials. Like all
our projects, our inclination will always be true to materials. For this house, the finishes are marble, granite, natural wood and slabs
of timber. Marble and granite are amazing materials with unique patterns. Marble can be art, valued not only for its luxurious finish, but for endless opportunities the natural vein gives designers. The thermal mass of natural stone is also superior in keeping the house cool in a tropical climate,” enthuses Wang.
Natural wood veneer was used in the common areas, the warm hues juxtaposed deftly against the marble. The balanced effect achieved was no accident: “We were
very particular on the natural wood veneer characteristics and the experience when one comes close to it visually and tactility. We have explored numerous finishes (sealer and wax etc) on these wood veneers wanting to preserve the natural beauty of the wood grain.”
As a practice which self-admittedly loves to celebrate fine details, working with natural materials presented its own set of challenges. This was particularly the case in the marble staircase that pierces through all three
floors and appears like a seamless swathe
of stone. “ As a natural material, marble is very challenging to work with. Every single piece of marble pattern is unique and non- modifiable. The design intent was to have the marble vein continuously leading up a
6 metre long staircase over 3 levels,” recalls Wang. “In searching for the right marble we visited multiple stone quarries from Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru. We personally inspected every piece of marble in person and created 3d renders to best optimise the design outcome.”
The biomimicry design of the kitchen island was another exercise that showcased the designers’ commitment to meticulous details. Consisting of 48 pieces of marble layered
over each other, each piece was hand-cut and installed individually. To ensure that the undulated curves flow well, multiple physical scaled models were made before the designers decided on its final organic form.
Other details of note included the glass lift screen and pergola louvre. “A mock-up of the glass lift screen was made on site. We needed to ensure passengers did not feel enclosed within the lift, yet it would still provide privacy from outside. At night, lighting transforms the screen into a golden tower and is reflected in the pool,” continues Wang. “The pergola louvre was carefully distanced and angled so it allowed morning sun to pass though and also shaded the harsh sunlight in the afternoon. The shadow effect also creates more dynamic indoor and outdoor space.”