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Louis Vuitton Marina Bay – Island Maison

Island Maison Jetty Entrance

I’m back after spending an evening at the Louis Vuitton Island Maison at Marina Bay Sands. It was an exclusive preview and there are certainly less than a hundred guests within this gigantic store, leaving my family to tour the Maison rather peacefully with our very sweet and charming guide. In short, this store IS amazing. While I’ve been to the other stores in Singapore and the two Maison stores at Hong Kong, there is just something special about the Island Maison.

The store feels like a mix between a museum and a luxury cruise liner (especially with the Mezzanine level which does resemble a ship’s deck). They could’ve easily built more retail space, but instead there are only two levels at the Island section – the expansive and high ceiling within the Crystal Pavilion is embellished with the eye-catching, floating art called “Upper Strut” by Richard Deacon. The glass facets of the Crystal are filled with cascading white “sails” to block out the excess sunlight, but also gives momentary glimpses into the sea outside. With port holes, deck furniture and an abundance of teak panels, it almost feels like you are “traveling”. You just have to see it.

Before I start bombarding this post with photos, here is a “directory” of all the sections in the Island Maison:

Louis Vuitton Island Maison – Store Layout

Marina Bay Sands Shoppes – Basement Level 1
Store Entrance
Fine Jewellery
Exotic/Rare Leather Goods

Marina Bay Sands Shoppes – Basement Level 2
Store Entrance
Gallery/Tunnel to Crystal Pavilion

Crystal Pavilion North – Level 1
“Jetty”/Outdoor Store Entrance
Men’s Universe: Ready to Wear, Bags and Leather Goods, Accessories
Women’s Universe: Ready to Wear, Bags and Leather Goods, Accessories

Crystal Pavilion North – Mezzanine Level
Travel Room: Trunks, Luggage, Travel Accessories, Ready to Wear
Custom Order Collection

Some interesting info!

There are no “limited editions” or commemorative products for the store’s grand opening. Apparently, the company wants to stop associating products (or at least, special variants) with store launches.

Although the store is completely air-conditioned, those who are sensitive to heat should be aware that the Crystal Pavilion gets a little warm throughout the afternoon. It is a structure mostly made of glass and has generous amounts of sunlight sieving in, after all.

Also, the store can no longer sell items on display, so even if you see something you like on display, you might not be able to bring it home. This rule has been around for years but has been rarely enforced in Singapore, until now at Island Maison. This is to ensure that the customer receives “brand new” pieces.

Unlike the other stores in Singapore, where you can pick and try as much as you like and pay for the item you’ve been touching, the staff can only fetch (brand new) merchandise for customers only after payment. I’m not sure if this is the standard practice everywhere else in the world, but I have observed this at some stores overseas.

Apart from some convenience installations, there are lifts at the Island Maison (but not at the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes sections), an outdoor sitting area, a private lounge and yes, even guest washrooms. Throw in a café and I believe some guests will never want to leave.

Ready for the tour of the Island Maison? Click “Read Full Story!”

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The Crystal is calling…


I have returned from the preview tour of the Louis Vuitton Island Maison! Read all about it in this new blog post!

17th September marks the grand opening of the Louis Vuitton Island Maison at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. This is the first Maison store in South-east Asia and more excitingly: the world’s first “Island” store. Taking up the entire Crystal Pavilion North at the Sands, the Island Maison spans four stories, two levels underground (from Marina Bay Sands Shoppes) which connects to the two above-ground floors in the Crystal.

I can’t say how excited I am – the Island Maison, like the other 11 in the world, is more than just a place to purchase expensive leather goods. There will be exhibition spaces, galleries and even a bookstore. And yes, this is the 12th Maison in the world. There are many other intriguing design features, just waiting to be explored, in this one of a kind store designed by award-winning architect Peter Marino. Since this is Singapore’s latest flagship store after all, expect to see Louis Vuitton’s entire offering, from their extensive, timeless luggage line-up to the latest Prêt-à-Porter collections, on the shelves. We can also expect a large amount of seasonal exclusives to be made available at this store.

This momentous occasion will take place on the evening of 17th September around the Marina Bay area, with a Gala Opening at the Island Maison followed by a party at One on the Bund at Clifford Pier. Celebrities, socialites and Louis Vuitton’s valued clients will be able to travel to the store at Crystal Pavilion – North, which has a nautical theme after all, via the waters of Marina Bay. You can imagine those luxury yachts sailing around Marina Bay area now.

The Grand Opening festivities can be viewed online on Louis Vuitton’s Facebook page. It will be streamed LIVE from 7PM Singapore Time (GMT+8).

I’ve spotted this cute video from, featuring Louis Vuitton’s iconic Groom character! This short animation actually gives a stylised, 3D look into the store’s layout. So wow, there are escalators and a travellator? I’ve only heard of the Champs-Élysées store having nicely decorated escalators!

I am extremely fortunate to be invited to the Island Maison preview tour and grand opening party. LVMH has sent me these beautiful invitation packages!

Louis Vuitton Island Maison invitation
Louis Vuitton Island Maison invitation

What really surprised me was this leather envelope, crafted in Taiga leather, holding the acrylic invitation card for the Grand Opening party. It has been hot-pressed with “Marina Bay Sands SINGAPORE 2011”

Louis Vuitton Island Maison invitation
Louis Vuitton Island Maison invitation

While the store officially opens to the public on 18th September, I will be attending the preview tour with my family this Friday. I will try to get as many pictures as I can from this majestic landmark made of glass and steel. Stay tuned!


Natsu Matsuri 2011

Entrance Ticket

Natsu Matsuri, or Japanese Summer Festival, is an annual event held at The Japanese School (Primary Level) in Changi, Singapore. Highlights include festival games, performances and a bazaar sprawling across almost all major hallways at ground level.

Although I knew about this event for years, I have not been to the festival until mere days ago. This is the first time I secured my admission ticket before the event, thanks to Dwight and his connections at the NUS Japanese Studies Society. Each ticket costs $2 – just a token fee – but the most important thing is getting tickets BEFORE the event, so that you could bypass the long line outside the school and enter the festival compound quickly.

The queue is actually 6-7 times longer than what it appears here.

There are actually 3 lines at the festival: Queue to buy tickets, queue for those with tickets on hand, and queue for those who wish to rent yukatas. Yukata and Obi goes for $2 and $1 respectively and can be worn throughout the evening until the festival programme ends.

Yukata zone

As for the bazaar, it’s a mix of the usual Japanese snacks, such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, to bento boxes and some unusual treats – the infamous candy apple for example, which gets sold out within the first hour of the festival. Food here is slightly marked up compared to outside, but hey, it’s really all about the atmosphere here! As for the merchandise available here, well, there was a stall selling some figurines at fire-sale prices. If you are in the market for Japanese trinkets, there were quite a selection available. There was even a random nubox outlet selling accessories for Apple products(?!). The main problem really was getting around because of crowd issues, despite the organiser’s efforts.

School Grounds
School Grounds

The expansive grass field is most people would end up later in the evening, either to enjoy their picnics in the open and/or watch the performances. Festival games are located at a far corner of the field.

Game Coupon

Festival Games (as in, the “official” games conducted by the event organisers) cost $2 per game round. One tip: Buy game tickets early if they are offered for sale by roving staff members! The queue to buy tickets at the game booths are just as long as the line to ENTER the school. Anyway back to games: there were three stalls this year.

Yoyo Tsuri
Yoyo Tsuri

Yo-yo Tsuri, or “Yo-yo Fishing” involves picking up a floating water balloon from a pool of water. The thing is, you are only given a “W” shaped hook that is attached to a curious white “string”. Sounds easy? Unfortunately most players end up catching nothing! Well, the white string is just rolled tissue paper. The game keepers are kind though, and give away “sympathy” water balloons even if one fails. The trick here is to find the lighter balloons – those that are floating higher than the rest. I managed to catch one water balloon (which had barely any water), but made the mistake of swishing the hook around to get a better view of the rubber band loops – the paper broke when I tried to lift another balloon.

Shooting Game
Shooting Game

The second game, which I will just call Shooting Game uses NERF guns instead of the traditionally seen BB guns, thanks to local regulations. One game coupon gives you just two foam bullets – it is more of a game of luck than skill. Prizes include well, Collon biscuits, pocket notebooks (which go for $0.30 outside ??!) and some toys for children (the real prizes).

"Pull String" game

The last game is Senbonbiki (千本引き). I don’t know what’s the right translation but most people call it the “Pull String” or “Lucky String” game. Each game station is a box with a lot of strings from the centre. These strings are connected to items flowing out from the sides of the box. To play this game you simply have to choose a string and pull it, causing an item to rise. You just win that. Prizes range from small packs of snacks, cute trinkets, toys and even shockingly, the worst prize possible: a bottle of mineral water.

Since this is really based on luck, there really aren’t any strategies at all. There are three lines for this game, each with a different choice of toys: Boys, Girls and Unisex.

Natsu Matsuri

The last event at Natsu Matsuri is the Bon Odori, which is a sort of dance around the stage at the grass field. Everyone is encouraged to take part in this simple, rhythmic dance which lasts for about 90 minutes. I didn’t stay late enough for most of the Bon Odori though.


The ArtScience Museum



After finishing two examination papers, I could finally catch a breather and go on an adventure. This time: The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands!

At time of visit, there were three exhibitions happening:
– Van Gogh Alive: The Exhibition
– Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds
– ArtScience: A Journey Through Creativity (Permanent Exhibition)

It is very important to know what is being shown at the Museum before planning a visit. Read the next section!

Admission for ArtScience Museum is a simple: You just pay a standard fee to enter ($30 for adults, $27 for seniors, $17 for children) and you can view all the exhibits in the museum. This means that it is best to visit when there are a lot of traveling (or new) exhibitions and just “swoop” them all up in one go. The ticket price is not very encouraging for frequent revisits and there is no “annual museum pass”.

Museum Gateway

The ArtScience Museum Lobby is a very open glass house which is located at the base of the lotus-shaped Museum. There is nothing much here apart from ticketing counters, entrance gantries and also the glass lifts that travel to all the gallery floors. According to the brochure, the Museum has 21 gallery spaces which totals up to 50,000 square feet of exhibition space!

Like any other good Museums in the world, there are of course etiquette guidelines. The same things basically: No flash photography, eating, drinking, loud noises and rowdy behaviour in galleries!

ArtScience: A Journey Through Creativity


Leonardo's Flying Machine

The Permanent Exhibition is located at the highest (guest accessible) level and it is a “light” exhibition, with just about three small galleries. Each gallery has a theme to bring guests through a “journey inside the creative process”: Curiosity, Inspiration and Expression.

The galleries three
The first gallery, Curiosity is rather focused on the design of the ArtScience Museum. Here guests will be able to see the sketches, mock-ups and engineering research that were part of the process to create the Museum’s unique building.

The Inspiration gallery is an interactive space that allows guests to view some important inventions and discoveries in the history of mankind. There are many interactive screens and also places where guests can create their own postcards to share the experience.

Lastly, Expression gallery is actually a small sit-down theatre showcasing various major art and science periods. The video has high production values and the theatre itself is very uniquely designed – with many objects (relevant to the video) and panels layering around the main screen.

All in all, this is like an appetizer to the actual traveling exhibitions. It is probably relevant if you are interested in the story behind the Museum. Takes about 20-30 minutes.

Van Gogh Alive: The Exhibition

frame Van Vogh

A Thousand Pictures Tell A Single Story
Although the famous Dutch genius artist has only sold one artwork during his life, his work is celebrated by millions after his death, with landmark pieces such as Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers and Starry Night becoming legendary Post-Impressionist works and also hot auction items. In Van Gogh Alive, more than 3000 images have been transformed into a multi-sensory experience in the form of immersive large-scale projections spanning many galleries.

No photographs are allowed in this gallery so I have nothing to show. Essentially there are many expansive galleries linked together showing the same projections, synced with soothing classical music. There is a small gallery at the side which shows and describes some of Van Gogh’s famous pieces as well as some details about his (troubled) life.

You may either walk around or find a good place to view the projections and drown yourself into Van Gogh’s magical world. The projections last around 25 minutes and restarts immediately after a cycle. The benches in the galleries are strategically placed for viewing – take note though, there aren’t a lot of them!

Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds

Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds

Thousands of salvaged treasures from the maritime silk road are presented in this traveling exhibition. It is designed to provide a sequential narrative for guests, starting with the story of ocean trade and the importance for trade in the region.

The later sections describe the conservation processes for the artefacts and finally, large galleries showcasing hundreds of preserved artefacts. While there is definitely volume in terms of what is being displayed, it does get a little repetitive after a while – especially a room that focuses on different ceramic plates and being plates, most of them share similar designs.

Apart from videos and displays, there are two small interactive sections in the galleries: A simple boardgame and a “pattern press” for guests to collect free souvenirs. It takes about 30-45 minutes to walk about, watch the videos and enjoy the exhibits in the galleries.

Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds

Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds

Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds

the diagrid

Is the ArtScience Museum worth visiting? Well.. the admission fee is rather steep and there are no discounts, apart from a group ticketing option but you will need a lot of people. You may probably want to wait for the Dali exhibition to be open to get more value from your ticket too.

Also included in the ticket is access to the open-air area of the Museum directly beneath the “Lotus”. There is nothing much here apart from water pools (and dying lotuses) but it is a nice windy place, with some tables and chairs, to relax and enjoy the views.


Singapore Biennale 2011

Featuring 60 artists from 30 countries, Singapore Biennale 2011: “OPEN HOUSE” promises to intrigue and invoke the imagination of its visitors. This year the Biennale venues are a bit more unique, going to places such as the Old Kallang Airport, SAM @ 8Q and even at the Merlion (Singapore River/Marina Bay version). I find that this year’s exhibition is a lot more thematic and has many contextual pieces. The strongest works are, like back in 2006, very closely linked with the venue where it is being shown. The Old Kallang Airport venue has some of the most interesting – especially the interactive – pieces I have seen so far!

While the 2006 Biennale has a special place in my heart, 2011 has somewhat redeemed the Biennale for me. I’m sorry, but SB2008 was felt rather incongruous as a whole and had a very (inherently) vague theme, “Wonder”.

Enjoy the photos.

OPEN HOUSE at Old Kallang Airport

[Robert MacPherson]

[Rubén Ramos Balsa]

[Gosia Wlodarczak]

[Martin Creed]

[Michael Lin]

[Michael Lee]

[Rafael Lozano-Hemmer]

[Tiffany Chung]

[Charles Sandison]


[Shao Yinong & Muchen]

[Stuart Ringholt]

[Sopheap Pich]

Complete photo set can be found here: Flickr: Biennale 2011


Valentino Retrospective

“This exhibition pays tribute to a man who has been placed in the history of haute couture as an undeniable ambassador of elegance. His work combines romanticism, modernity and classicism; his silhouettes combine sovereign grace with timeless allure. His style is determined by a graphic line which is sober and sophisticated at once. His designs accentuate the silhouette, giving it fluidity, femininity and sensuality. Forms are clear, fabrics are sumptuous and all collections always possess a large scale of colours enhanced by rich embroideries.”
– Ms Pamela Golbin, curator-in-chief for the Fashion and Textiles collection of Les Arts Décoratifs

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