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A Swanky 3-Room Bedok Flat Inspired by Luxury Yacht Cabins

Bold, sumptuous, and above all, personal – just like the rest of his projects – interior designer Wan Ismail’s own 3-room home at Bedok North features a distinctively eclectic aesthetic that marries traditional Islamic architecture and modern-contemporary elements.

However, those weren’t the only sources that the founder of Fatema Design Studio took inspiration from to create his cosy dwelling.

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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“Here’s a bit of a personal secret about myself and this house. Since I was young, I have always had a love for the sea. I like fishing, I like boating, I just like being close to water basically, and I wanted to bring that experience back on land,” says Wan.

“That was when I got the inspiration to base the new look (of my home) off the inside of a luxury yacht.”

The best part about this idea? It wouldn’t be hard for Wan to pursue his unique vision.

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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Considering the structural similarities between yacht cabins and HDB flats: low ceilings, narrow walkways, and a comparable square footage; it was easy for Wan to apply the core principles behind creating a comfortable boat interior (which he picked up from reference books) to his own 65 sqm apartment.

To find out more, we paid a visit to Wan’s ‘seaworthy’ home for a quick chat with the man himself!

Qanvast (Q): Nice to meet you! Could you tell us more about yourself?

Wan (W): I am a self-taught interior designer with an Engineering background as well as the founder of Fatema Design Studio.

Aside from fishing, boating, and swimming, I also enjoy spending my time reading books about architects and their work. I like Carlo Scarpa (an Italian architect) for his detailed work, and because I enjoy working with wood, Alvar Aalto (a Finnish designer) is a favourite of mine too.

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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Q: Could you tell us why you got this home?

W: Basically, this was the largest flat that I could get when I applied for one, 6 years ago.

I also chose this unit because of the privacy. If you were to look out of the bedroom windows, you’ll see that it isn’t facing any of the neighbouring flats. There’s a trade-off however, as the living room is facing the carpark; but even then, it’s all good because I can keep an eye on my bike and car.

Q: What’s the concept behind the design of your house? And what's the process of coming up with its design like?

W: The design of the house is largely inspired by three things: modern luxury interiors, Islamic architecture, and yacht cabins.

To create a feeling akin to the inside of a yacht, I made use of hardwood to layer the living room ceiling and wooden veneers for the other surfaces in the house.

I came up with the original plan for the space two years before collecting the keys. Since then, there were a couple of minor changes, but nothing really major because each of the rooms and the layout were created with a clear purpose in mind.

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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Q: How would you say your home has changed from its original state?

W: I feel that the house feels a lot more spacious than it actually is. Also, although the ceiling isn’t very high, the vertical space has been maximised with tall cabinetry; it (read: the surroundings) looks elevated because of that.

Having long seating and keeping everything tucked to the corners helps to ensure good flow throughout the space as well. In addition, the exterior walls of the bedrooms were torn down to give us complete control of the surroundings.

For the master bedroom, it is also now more efficient in its space usage. By changing the position of the entrance, we could build in two additional storage units, while fitting in a work area, bed, and an en-suite bathroom.

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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Q: Did you encounter any challenges/hiccups while renovating?

W: I would say that I am my own critique, so when I find something that I am not satisfied with, I’d change it even it’s my own creation. For instance, the living room ceiling was initially overlaid with wooden veneers, but I swapped them out for hardwood as the ‘feel’ just wasn’t right.

The mother-of-pearl feature wall, which you see in the back of the living room, was also initially intended to cover a larger area, but because of a hiccup in measurement, it came out shorter than expected.

Of course, there’s also the challenge of planning for a small space, which most homeowners face, but that’s just part and parcel of an interior designer's job.

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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Q: Did your past projects have any bearing on the current look and feel of your home?

W: You’ll have to be the judge of that. I haven’t really changed my style across the years, I tend to use the same elements: dark woods, Middle Eastern decorative features, and Persian carpets; mostly because of their rich history, and how they play a big role in giving me inspiration.

In terms of colours, it has always been the same as well. However, the good part about having an easily recognisable style is that when people want a similar look for their home, they’ll come to me (laughs).

Fatema Design HDB 3 Room Bedok North
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Q: What do you like most about your new home? Is there a particular space that you like?

W: Everything. To me, it’s not about liking a specific room or area, because the house is designed as a single, unified space.

It’s akin to a second skin, or a physical representation of my identity. So, I can’t just love one part of it, that wouldn’t be right.

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