Since Bojan Tercon and Robin Lokerman’s remarkable wedding on a plane in the skies above Europe, slightly more than a year ago, work has brought them to Singapore, where they have found new inspiration and focus for the whirl of travel and entertainment that seems to define their lives together.
Slovenian by birth, gorgeous Bojan has the charm and chutzpah of an expat brat: his father’s shipping industry job took the family to India when he was just five, then to Canada for ten years, then Amsterdam and Brussels. At the time he met Robin, who is Dutch, Bojan was an EU lobbyist in Brussels, representing Slovenian universities and research institutes. “But I love travelling,” he confides, “so I was quite happy to move to Singapore with Robin.”
Robin is the CEO of the world’s largest event company, MCI, which employs about 800 people worldwide. The Singapore office opened three years ago; MCI also has three offices in India and one each in Shanghai, Tokyo and Dubai, and has just opened in Hong Kong. “The massive hospitality infrastructure developments in these cities are the hardware,” Robin explains, “and we are the software that completes it.”
They became a couple five years ago, and got married on the 7th day of the 7th month of the 7th year – 7 July, 2007, almost as auspicious for Westerners as the 8th of August 2008 was for the Chinese.
A wedding is a special occasion in anyone’s life, but these two really pulled out all the stops. Considering Robin’s job in events management, it should come as no surprise that the style and scale of the event were astonishing. Having chartered a plane from Brussels to Venice, they filled it with friends and family members, and held a wedding ceremony in the aisle en route. Then, in the wonderful castle they hired for the occasion, CastelBrando, they partied with their 300 guests for an entire weekend. A fancy-dress masked ball, with everyone attired in 18th-century Venetian costume, was no doubt the highlight.
Robin didn’t do all the work for this event, though. He had three wedding planners to help: he and Bojan recently took the trio on a trip to India as a thank-you for their efforts. “Our lives are all about travel,” says Bojan, who clearly revels in accompanying his husband on extensive trips around the world.
As the “trailing spouse” in this marriage, Bojan has wasted no time in finding employment – “reinventing myself”, as he puts it. Together with Australian singer, Corinne Gibbons, he has set up the delightfully named Singapore Sing, an in-house team-building concept based on teaching corporate staff to sing in harmony, literally.
After five or six sessions, the group performs a four-part choral piece before an audience at a corporate event, say a Christmas party. “Unlike an activity such as paint-balling,” explains Bojan, “it’s non-competitive, and works for all genders, age groups and hierarchical levels. Going over six sessions, it takes you out of the workspace for longer, and its team-building effect is more enduring. The final harmony is amazing, every time without fail.” Singapore Sing will even help you put together a company song – something to liven up those sessions around the water-cooler, no doubt.
And when they’re not travelling, they’re entertaining at home – at least three nights a week. So, who’s the cook? “Neither of us!” confesses Bojan. “Robin’s a bad cook and I’m a disastrous one. We love to eat, but we hate to cook.” He introduces me to their Filipina helper, Gemma, saying that she more than lives up to her name – she’s a real gem. Unlike so many apartments in Singapore, their maid’s quarters are a good size and include a balcony, so Gemma has her privacy and they have theirs.
“Singaporeans generally entertain out instead of at home,” says Robin, “so what we do is different from the norm. We love entertaining, which is why we chose this bigger apartment at The Colonnade. And though we haven’t been here long, we’ve met lots of terrific people, including local people and mixed couples.”
How did they find this apartment? They had an excellent agent in Mollie Low, according to Bojan, who says he saw between 20 and 30 places. “We wanted something really central. It’s like living in a big, green garden. You can walk everywhere, and the condo has a good gym and a pool.
“Having come from a unique Art Deco house in Brussels, with lovely high ceilings, we were looking for another home with loads of style. This one is so nicely designed, with well-proportioned spaces and cleverly hidden storage areas, and The Colonnade itself is something of an icon. What’s more, it’s excellently managed by the Pontiac Land Group; anything that needs doing is never a problem.”
Space for Living
Bojan reckons that their apartment is something of a John Erdos show-house. “We brought the dining table and chairs and our beds from Brussels,” he says, “but most of what we have bought here came from his gallery. We saw his stuff and fell in love with it. It’s modern, simple, Asian and very comfortable; and all the wood used has been recycled. He has great taste and offers a lot of variety.”
The leather lounge furniture is from John Erdos Gallery, and the colourful rug from Ikea. “We like a bit of diversity.” Robin’s desk is a Chinese one, but was bought in Brussels – for far more than he would have paid here, he notes wryly.
It’s refreshing to hear the couple sing their praises of Singapore’s weather instead of complaining about the heat and humidity. Being European, they say, they find this climate a treat. And what they love most about their airy, high-ceilinged apartment is that its living room doors open right back onto a spacious terrace – furnished by John Erdos, of course. “It’s exactly what we wanted,” says Robin, “and we always eat outside.” Interestingly, in Europe everything faces south to catch the elusive sun; here, it’s the opposite, because everyone hides from the sun.
Bojan opens a low door into a former storage area to reveal the “one essential a European cannot live without” – an impromptu wine cellar in the form of two capacious and fully stocked wine fridges.
At the foot of the generous staircase, a lovely Buddha statue waves visitors up to the next level – rather appropriately. “We got it from John last week,” says Bojan, “because we loved its peaceful face. No wonder he keeps inviting us to his events!”
Bojan also points out a number of statues they bought in Cambodia last week, and a terracotta warrior they acquired in Xian, China, two years ago. “We had it shipped to Brussels, but before we got around to unpacking it, we knew we were moving to Singapore, so it came straight back to Asia, still in its packaging.”
The bedroom walls are hung with paintings and sketches by Robin’s father, and adorned with vertical multi-photo frames depicting the couple’s travels, from Mexico to Marrakesh and from California to the South of France.
The master bed is from Europe, the rug is from Turkey, but the side tables are from John Erdos, as is the custom-made bookstand. More than two metres wide, the solid wooden piece is incredibly heavy. “When we told the workers it had to go upstairs, they wanted to kill us,” says Bojan. He lets me peek into their walk-in wardrobe, where everything is neatly arranged and colour-coordinated, of course, but points out that having the perfect closet takes two things: enough space, and a wonderful domestic helper like Gemma.
Off the master bedroom is a private terrace with a desk where Bojan likes to work. “We love our view,” he says. “On the twelfth floor, you’re high enough to have an urban outlook, but you’re still connected to the greenery.”
Bon Voyage – Again
Our timing has been good, as Robin and Bojan are about to leave on yet another round of travelling. First, they’re taking Robin’s visiting family to the island of Nikoi to see Corinne perform.
Then they’re off to Bali for a wedding, and after that to Beijing, where they have a local agent sourcing tickets to the Games. Then they will continue on to California, to Cannes, to see Bojan’s family in Slovenia, to Utrecht in the Netherlands to visit Robin’s family, and back to Singapore on one of SIA’s new A380s.
Do Robin and Bojan plan to stay in Singapore? Oh, yes! they say.
Having sold what they had in Europe, they, like many other hopeful expats, are just waiting for the housing market to ease somewhat before they look at buying their own stake in this green and pleasant land.
• Brunch at Sentosa Spa
• Dempsey area
• Flutes at the Fort
• Gold Class movies at Golden Village VivoCity (if you order Moët, they give you a little velvet pillow)
• John Erdos Gallery
• Red Sea Gallery, Dempsey (join the choir, it’s great fun)
• Singapore Sing
• Smith Street, Chinatown (for dinner with visitors after seeing the nearby Buddhist and Hindu temples)
• Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir
• Wan Yang at Plaza Singapura
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