Growing up, Zhi Yi visited flea markets and garage sales with his father, who regularly scoured the classified ads for potential leads on mid-century modern and vintage furniture. This love for things from the past is now passed along from father to son, as he builds a home with his wife Minlin.
“We don’t have a specific theme or category for the look of our home. Some would say our house has a Mid-Century Modern or Scandinavian vibe. But we think there’s more to it. The overall aesthetics are based on various items and furniture from the mid-century era, mixed with modern functional pieces.”
“It’s a true blend of things we love and have collected over time, each reflecting our appreciation for well-made and timeless design. Given the mish-mash of items we have, maybe ‘organised chaos’ is an appropriate theme!”
By the entrance are a pair of ‘Balloons’ Skateboards in silver and black hung above a rug from Tokyo.
“Our favourite nook will have to be the dining area which houses our shelf and our huge dining table. We host pretty often and the oval-shaped dining table is just perfect for a great meal filled with conversation and banter. Our shelf has seen a second iteration of the display items in the few months since we moved in. That’s how much we love curating the space.”
The dining nook features a pendant lamp by an oval marble table by , chairs by Arne Jacobsen for and Charles & Ray Eames for ., FM Reolsystem teak wall shelving unit by ,
Z: “The home is really a reflection of two things (1) our interest in design (2) not to take life too seriously. Many of the items we have today such as the shelving unit and vintage McDonald’s lamps were bought way before we had moved in. We don’t take styling our house too seriously and don’t follow any fixed rules in adhering to any particular theme.”
“We let the various furniture, display items and interior design speak for themselves. We find pleasure in the ‘organised chaos’ that we now see in our home.”
Amongst the dining chairs is a one-of-a-kind Hamburger Chair that Zhi Yi put together with a seat from the 80s that the previous owner had salvaged from a McDonald's outlet in the US and new stool legs. The room’s vintage Mickey Mouse clock is by and the aluminium wall storage unit purchased from .
M: “My favourite object in our home has to be the -island in the kitchen. It’s super functional as it allows me to collect loads of plates and dinnerware while keeping them organised. The semi-open kitchen and dining are a reflection of my love for cooking and hanging out with friends and family.”
Used in the kitchen and around the home, are storage systems. Illuminating the island is a pendant lamp by Poul Henningsen for and the framed prints on the wall were from a flea market in Hawaii.
“When it came to design, we were quite clear on what we wanted before we got the keys – minimal built-in work and maximum space for us to curate. We knocked down the extra bedroom so there is more space in the living area for us to host family and friends.”
In the living room, a vintage Jean Prouve Potence wall lamp from is affixed overhead a day bed. Featured above are our in Mustard, in Mustard and in Red.
“Our spaces are quite neatly defined which helps separate work and home during WFH right now. The dining and living area is truly for leisure and personal space.”
The couple enjoy lounging in the Paimio Armchair 41 designed by in 1932 (bent plywod) for and Cite chair by for France’s Cite University. The living room’s clock commemorates the 100th year anniversary of the De Stijl art movement while in the distance, the study’s standing lamp is by Ettore Sottsass for .
M: “We converted our original master bedroom into our study as we needed more space, and it also has a system for two work stations and storage.”
“We spend our work hours in the study and when it is time to unwind and prepare meals, we enjoy sitting in both the dining and living areas, leaving work behind at the back of our minds.”
Z: “We have this orange Petite Potence lamp that was designed by the late Virgil Abloh in collaboration with . I got it from someone who actually knew Virgil and was able to get lamp #001 in the limited run.”
Z: “It’s a difficult choice, but my favourite item in our home is probably the vintage McDonald’s lamps which are from the 80s era. These were given to McDonald’s employees and were of a very limited production run. I started hunting for these almost 5-6 years back and it took me awhile to find one. Since then, these have become even more rare and collectible.”
The McDonald’s paraphernalia extends to the common bathroom with a Hamburger lamp from Jun Takahashi’s label, in collaboration with .
“In terms of picking out pieces, most of these were bought from awhile back without actually thinking how they would fit together in a HDB unit. But with timeless design from the mid-century era, you almost can’t go wrong! We buy many of our pieces secondhand from online mediums such as and . Locally, we have bought some items from , and fellow collectors.”
A Vilbert chair designed by Verner Panton for in 1993 was purchased from a fellow collector and sits in the couple’s study. Acquired from are prints by French architect Le Corbusier which grace the walls of the dining room.
Z: “Whenever we travel, we also visit flea markets and vintage stores. During our recent trip to Paris, we brought back a rare Pelota lamp designed by C Casati and E Ponzio for Lamperti in Italy. Minlin also managed to find some nice vintage crockery at some of the flea markets.”
The Pelota lamp sits on an , used during get-togethers to hold drinks and beverages. trolley
“For us, it is ultimately about timeless design. We seek items that we’d be happy to keep and move to our next house and beyond.”
Z: “We like collecting local artworks as well. There are some local artists that do good work – Jeffrey from is one of them. I have bought quite a few figurines from him over the years.”
“We don’t have a fixed morning ritual. On days where we head to the office, both of us get up and get dressed for work. On days where we WFH, we like to head down to the coffee shop for a cup of local coffee before starting the day.”
Minlin and Zhi Yi’s bed is dressed in a an in Forest. The tapestry above the bed is by Colombine Jubert and Laetitia Rouget under the name, with hanging lamps from . of a White and Forest , along with an extra in Mustard and
“SOJAO sheets feel extra soft with a luxurious finish. They are comfortable even in our humid climate and make us want to lounge in bed for longer!”
Philippe Starck’s Gnomi stools for serve as bedside tables.
“We like to sleep with some air-condition on, so it’s always on a self-timer mode which turns off mid-morning.”
In the bedroom, the couple’s memorabilia sit on modular shelves along with a Butterfly Stool by Sori Yanagi for .
“Home is a place for us to finally place all the stuff we have bought in the last few years! No, but seriously – home is and should be a place where you find solace and happiness. And I think we have that going now. It is cozy enough for us to feel restful after a hard day at work and it is curated in a way that brings a smile to both of us.”
Z: “To anyone looking to start their own collection of vintage items, have a look at design magazines or books such as the for some inspiration. And then, happy hunting!”