Virginia native Carl Hall has called the St. Regis Residences home since he arrived in Singapore in May 2014. He explains how living in this achingly cool apartment suits him, and why he called on the services of a college friend back in the US to help style up his space.
For a shopaholic, living in the St. Regis Residences would be a dream, but the charming Carl Hall admits that he rarely visits Orchard Road for retail therapy, even though it’s just a stone’s throw away. What did appeal to him was the apartment’s layout, convenient central location, and, unusually, the building’s history.
“My father was in the construction business, and when I was growing up I learnt to pay attention to a building’s construction background. “Here in Singapore, I looked at 19 potential homes in two days, and narrowed it down to three places. It was important to me that I found out who the builder was and any other relevant building information, and I also knew that the St. Regis would want to retain its brand reputation with the property. When my father comes out to visit, I know he’ll notice if anything is wrong with it,” he laughs.
This is Carl’s first international posting – he moved here from Chicago, where he lived for seven years. He’s actually only in Singapore for around 12 days a month; he spends the rest of the time travelling for his job as vice-president of medical products and managing director for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East for Cardinal Health.
“It’s been a really interesting, sometimes challenging time; the thing that excited me most about coming here was the diversity of doing business in this area. You have both established markets and emerging ones, which means that two conversations are rarely the same.”
It was important to Carl, however, that when he was in Singapore he had a place he could call home. Although he says he knows what he likes, he needed someone else to pull it together. Carl and New York-based designer Peter Sandel have known each other since they met at Baylor University in Texas 20 years ago, and, with Peter having started up Peter Sandel Design in 2013, he was the obvious person to take on the project of designing Carl’s apartment.
“Peter has that eye,” says Carl. “Every place he has lived in has looked amazing. I had a ton of frequent flyer miles and so I asked him to come over and figure out what to do with my place.”
Carl’s brief to Peter was to create a masculine yet modern feel that would also include his experiences and influences. “At the end of the day, I’m still Southern at heart, so I also wanted a little tradition and warmth – for example, the darker, warmer woods of the bed and sideboard in my bedroom.”
Peter worked on the apartment in two phases, first coming over to style the living areas, and then to work on the bedrooms. Not only does Carl clearly love the space Peter has created for him, he is also seriously impressed with his friend’s ability to adapt in a different market.
“Peter knew very little about Singapore,” he says. I gave him a month’s notice on the project and was away for two of the three weeks he spent here the first time. It was great that he was able to figure out and connect with suppliers so quickly.” Carl particularly loves the study area, which is set in the living space but surrounded by glass walls.
“I work a lot from home, so when I viewed the condo this was one of the main things that sold the place to me. Now I love the way I can sit here and see everything, while still being separated from the other areas.” The pictures on the wall behind the desk all reflect his experiences, and each one holds specific meaning for him.
For Carl, this is home for the foreseeable future. “It’s so convenient: it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to get from here to pretty much anywhere, and there’s great service from the St. Regis. I have no intention of moving for now.”
He also enjoys a full-on social life when he is in Singapore, exploring the many new restaurants that pop up, as well as exercising regularly, and travelling to other countries for new adventures when he can squeeze in the time.
Since we’ve been friends for years it didn’t take long for me to interpret Carl’s wishes for this project. We knew we wanted the space to tell his story, including his new life in Singapore. We would accomplish that with Chinese antiques carefully balanced with fresh and modern pieces – a style uniquely his own.
I don’t sleep when I’m in Singapore; I love exploring the city for new sources of inspiration. I’m inspired by the pastel-coloured shophouses and their European influenced architecture, all juxtaposed against the backdrop of a young, modern city; old and new, working together and looking sublime! It was from this perfect composition that I was inspired to design Carl’s new home abroad.
Singapore is an exciting place to work; for many, it’s also the easiest place to do business. However, when it comes to interior design, it’s an insider’s game. More than once while out shopping I’ve been grabbed by a desperate housewife completely at a loss as to what to do with her new and empty Singapore home.
Expats looking to personalise their homes abroad find it daunting; sourcing furnishings that are familiar and that they are comfortable with can be tricky. For that I would recommend hiring a designer – and it’s an added bonus if you’re also friends.
This article was first published in the February 2016 edition of Expat Living Subscribe