The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

A Shophouse Office: Preserving Heritage, Exuding Luxury

New York loft apartment meets an English gentleman’s club in this shophouse office designed by Elliot James Interiors.

A Shophouse Office: Preserving Heritage, Exuding Luxury


September 9th, 2015

Photos by Ken Tan

For this shophouse office of a hedge fund firm, the brief given to British interior design consultancy Elliot James was for and “inviting and informal” space with high quality finishes. It also had to “take on the look and feel that one would associate with a New York loft apartment and an English gentleman’s club.”


The office was located on the upper floors of three combined shophouses in the heart of Singapore’s central business district, and was an  unconventional space due to the original architecture of the building. This however, gave Elliot James the perfect opportunity to create innovative design solutions that would turn the situation into an advantage.

“The site was made up of three shophouses that had been knocked through into one larger space, with a staircase and lift located smack bang in the middle. The back left section housed an existing pantry, and there were toilets towards the back right. Large structural walls with concrete columns reflected the original footprints of the shophouses, and there were up to nine small shophouse windows along the front of the space,” explains Elliot Barratt, the studio’s Managing Director.


“We wanted to create a flowing floor plan that accentuated these structural features and celebrated the heritage of the shophouse, whilst also working well as a practical office. By using the unorthodox spaces left over from the stairways and awkward shophouse footprint, we were able to create smaller spaces that adapted into breakout areas and private offices. To partition these various private spaces, we used glass walls, which resulted in light, open rooms that were well connected to the rest of the office, and helped keep the natural flow around the office, but also offered the space private sections when required,” Barratt explains.


The raw concrete floor, large structural walls and concrete columns were deliberately left in their original state to enforce the New York apartment feel the client desired. In addition, the unconventional space allowed the design studio to build “unusual design quirks” such as an secluded library that staff can retreat to when they need to relax, and a luxurious lounge towards the centre of the office.


Through a mixture of lighting, Elliot James were able to create a soft, inviting ambience with areas of low lighting to help staff relax and escape from the more intense areas of the office.

Deep, rich colours and materials such as quilted leather and velvets were chosen for the furniture, with the overall aesthetic in keeping with the distinctive “British eclectic” style that Elliot James is known for. “We love to use pops of colour against a monochrome background, and combine a mixture of classic features with modern, rich fabric and tones,” says Barratt.

The studio custom made several pieces of furniture, including a bench wrapped in Timorous Beasties fabric and with mirrored gold legs. The same specific tone of gold was also used as an accent colour throughout the office space to conjure the feeling of luxury, opulence and sophistication. Sat against the monochrome background and tastefully chosen pops of colour, the finished composition is a layered interior with intriguing details at every turn.

Elliot James Interiors

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed