Interior designer, property developer, art collector, swimwear, clothing and homeware retailer, fashion designer: these are just a few of the monikers that befit Filipino-Chinese expat Florence Lim. She explains how she used her creative leanings to turn her four-bedroom Arcadia condominium into a home for her family and her art.
The outside of 30-year-old Arcadia Condominium near Adam Road, where Florence Lim and her family live, belies the inside of her four-bedroom, 370-square-metre apartment. The exterior, a shining example of early 1980s Singaporean condo architecture, gives way to the inside of Florence’s apartment, a peaceful haven of crisp, clean white, made inviting with the furnishings and fascinating artwork she has collected over the years.
Talking through Florence’s collection of art, sculpture and furniture is enough to give you mental whiplash, and serious art envy. Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Barnaby Barford, Mies van der Rohe, Yves Klein and Singaporean artist Sai are just some of the names mentioned. Recognise them or not, there’s no denying that Florence has an eye for collecting striking and conversation-worthy pieces.
Arriving in Singapore four years ago, after 16 years in Chelsea (London), Florence, her Italian husband Gianpaolo and their two sons Gianluca (13) and Gianandrea (11), initially moved to a house on Tyersall Road, opposite the Botanic Gardens. Two years later and their landlord attempted to hike the rent by 45 percent, so Florence decided it was time for change.
Intent on purchasing a suitable home for the family, she discovered The Arcadia by chance through her friend and financial advisor who had just moved in below her current abode. “I really liked the spaciousness of the flat and the layout, but it needed a huge amount of work as it had never been renovated in 30 years,” she says. This included rewiring the apartment in its entirety, creating a “Jack and Jill” connection to her boys’ bedrooms, and moving a wall to create a den behind the open-plan living and dining space.
Florence enlisted the expertise of Voon Wong, a London-based Singaporean architect. “During my years in London, I lived in four different homes, and Voon was my ‘go to’ architect. We have an almost telepathic communication; we’re always on the same page.”
I find out that it’s Florence’s birthday on the day we meet, and that she has also just returned from London the day before. She’s not only gracious about my intrusion on her birthday, but looks glowingly fresh and stylish, with no signs of jetlag. She arrives straight from her retail outlet, Edit Lifestyle, which she set up 18 months ago.
“I started Edit in response to a lack of upmarket swimwear in Singapore. I was tired of having to order it online, not liking the fit or colour and having the hassle of sending it back. My vision was that of walking into an Aman Resort, having the time to shop and wanting to buy aesthetically pleasing clothing and objects.” She stocks Melissa Odabash, Zimmermann and Onda de Mar, produces a line of resort wear and bags called Alba, and sells homeware, too.
We finish our walk through her home just as a masseuse turns up to give Florence a birthday massage. I ask if she has anything special planned for her birthday tonight and she says she’s thrown her husband a curve ball. “I said to him that I don’t want to do anything, so I don’t know if he’s taken me at my word.” Let’s hope he hasn’t!
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (“exquisite French food”)
6577 6688 | rwsentosa.com
Chop Suey Café (“modern Chinese food and dim sum in beautiful colonial interiors”)
9224 6611 | chopsueycafe.com
Din Tai Fung (“the best xiao long bao”)
Various locations | dintaifung.com.sg
P.S. Petit (“good pizzas and good wine”)
9226 7088 | pscafe.com
Symmetry (“great brunch and nice vibe”)|
6291 9901 | symmetry.com.sg
RELAX & PLAY
Gillman Barracks (“galleries galore”)
Pangaea (“for a night out”)
8611 7013 | pangaea.sg
Singapore Repertory Theatre (“interesting plays”)
6733 8166 | srt.com.sg
Sole Service (“mobile massage service”)
6221 7002 | soleservice.com.sg
Tanjong Beach Club (“Sunday downtime”)
6270 1355 | tanjongbeachclub.com
Edit Lifestyle (“swimwear, resort wear and homeware”)
6836 5686 | editlifestyle.com
Yavuz Fine Art (“good selection of Southeast Asian art”)
6338 7900 | yavuzfineart.com