You know when someone is truly passionate about their work when they bring it home.
Geri Murphy is the owner of Originals, and every room in her Pasir Panjang apartment is furnished from her store; most strikingly, the beautiful blue furniture that she personally sources from the Indian state of Rajasthan.
At first, I’m not sure I’m in the right place. The old apartment block is tucked away down a small side-road and its façade is unremarkable. A stocky, black dog attempts to get into the lift with me; its owner is nowhere in sight. Being a dog, he is unable to tell me which floor he lives on, so I gently shoo him away.
Then I find myself in Geri’s apartment, and it’s just lovely. The bright-white, airy space has a magnificent front-row view of the bustling harbour below and (so far) unobstructed views of the ocean. An array of colourful blinds billow from the windows, and vibrant aboriginal art decorates the walls.
Geri strikes me as warm and free-spirited, and the apartment mirrors her character beautifully. She makes me a cup of herbal tea and we sit on her balcony at a pale, bare-wood teak table – part the Originals basic furniture collection, which is sleek, smooth and goes deliciously well with the Rajasthani pieces that accent her home.
It was while on holiday in India that Geri first fell in love with these rustic pieces. She now travels to that country several times a year to replenish her stock, and some of it still finds its way into her own living room.
“My business gives me a great excuse to travel!” she says. “When I’m in India, I’m a world away from Singapore, living a completely different life. Despite the long road trips I have to make, the journeys are an adventure, and just as important as the destinations.”
Her travels have taken her through some spectacular scenery: across the Ganges River during a Hindu festival, where she witnessed pilgrims bathing in the river to wash away their sins; and up to the region of Shekhawati in the far north of the state of Rajasthan, near the border of Pakistan – once a part of the Golden Triangle route – where she stayed in an old fort. The majority of her sourcing trips are to Rajasthan, which she says is a beautiful part of the country. “The big cities tend to be dirty and dull, but the tribal villages are filled with vibrant colours,” she says.
Geri has a preference for sourcing pieces that serve a domestic purpose and are used on a daily basis by those living in the remote villages she travels to. “Some of the villages don’t have electricity and the villagers store food inside cabinets to stop the flies from getting to it.”
Families will often paint their houses and furniture in preparation for various festivals, she adds. During Divali – the Festival of Lights – everything is spring-cleaned and whitewashed, or painted a new colour, to signify a fresh start.
Being a male-dominated country, India can be a difficult place for a female to travel around on her own. But six years ago Geri met Sanje, who became her agent and now accompanies her on her sourcing trips.
Part of the Family
On occasion, Sanje’s wife and children join them, and Geri has grown close to the whole family. In fact, such is the bond she has developed that when Sanje’s son got married in Rajasthan last year, Geri was invited to the wedding. “Indian weddings last for four days. It was a massive celebration,” she says. “On the last day I found the bride crying in the bathroom because she was so exhausted!”
Mix and Match
There is something rather European about the blue Rajasthani pieces that she lovingly restores, which is probably why they go so well with the modern furniture that she also sells in Originals. “All the pieces that I buy for the shop are things that I like myself. The store changes and evolves with me,” she says, adding that she has recently started a new line of colourful, ultra-modern chairs – one of which lives in her own hallway.
After 13 years of living in Singapore, Geri says she still loves it here and has no plans to move back to Australia. “I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity of opening my own businesses,” she says. “I am able to create a homey atmosphere in the store, and my customers know they can even stop by for a glass of wine if they want to.”
Donna Carmela for great Italian food
242 Pasir Panjang Road, Pasir Panjang Village
(+65) 6476 3242
Labrador Park, for walks and a slice of local history
Labrador Villa Road (off Pasir Panjang Road)
1800 471 7300
Oso for Italian fine dining
46 Bukit Pasoh Road
(+65) 6327 8378
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