The first thing that arrests one’s attention in the home of Andrea Savage is the astounding view outside the living room windows, one of skyscrapers clustered toy-like in the distance against an endless expanse of cerulean sky. Once that vision sets in, the penthouse’s roominess and Savage’s uninhibited design scheme zooms into focus. The interior designer lives in Singapore with her husband Cameron Richards, who is the founder and CEO of CPR Vision Management, her children—four-year-old Allegra and seven-year-old Julian—two helpers and the family’s cat Charli which has been with them for 11 years.
At the foyer, facets of agate stone, lacquered scarlet strips and gold-finished stainless steel combine into a composition that Savage ascribes to an “art deco dream”. An angled sofa in the middle of the room merging black and green stripes, another sofa tiered with white tassels like a dress from a Great Gatsby scene, giant Murano wall scones and an orthogonal glass coffee table with golden totems for legs are but some of the singular elements animating the kaleidoscopic living area.
There is a lot going on at once but it excites rather than overwhelms. “Homes convey so much about the people who live there. This home is the perfect expression of my well-honed aesthetic that is clean-lined yet maximalist, art deco yet exotic,” says Savage. Her maximalist leanings satiate her thirst for energy and vibrancy in her surroundings. They are tempered with white surfaces while wall mouldings exude a classic, luxe sensibility.
The penthouse of a condominium in a central part of Singapore is dazzling, both in terms of impact and literally, with a lavish helping of gold and mirrored parts. It is the mothership of Savage’s unapologetic yet purposeful use of colour and pattern seen in her award-winning work. Together with her personable and articulate character, her good taste also had her appearing as a judge in the hit Asian reality television show The Apartment. Savage later became a guest judge due to work commitments. Ever since she joined her partner Nikki Hunt at the firm in 2011 after more than a decade of modelling in Singapore, she has channelled much of her energy into creating bespoke interiors that have won accolades, including a coveted spot in Andrew Martin: Interior Design Review—The Definitive Guide To The World’s Top 100 Designers.
Maternity leave was non-existent for her when Allegra came along. She was also working on this apartment at that time while tending to the pre-schooler whims of the then-three-yearold Julian. “There is just not enough time when you are building a business,” Savage says on working through Allegra’s infant days. Her love and passion for design fuelled her through the busyness and the result is a home that is functional yet warm. The family had moved from a previous apartment, as they needed more space when Allegra came along. “Prior to purchasing this apartment, we looked at landed properties but we love the condominium community and the network that it facilitated for our children and helpers. So finding a space that is 5,376 sq ft large was a dream come true. Nothing gave us more pleasure than when we moved in to see our children racing on the balcony or playing What’s The Time Mister Wolf with the city and world beyond,” shares Savage.
The penthouse is “an oasis from our professional lives; a home in the sky”. To make it the perfect home, Savage altered the entire interior. “I took the apartment back to its concrete shell, stripped out the lights, electricals, plumbing and even the windows. We moved the kitchen, dining and helpers’ quarters upstairs and created multiple seating and play areas depending on the setting of the sun and the mood of the household. The vistas are all maximised in all areas but they are not isolated as just framed views. They are incorporated into the home so you feel like you are one with the city beyond,” says Savage.
On the first storey is the living room flanked by the children’s bedrooms, a guestroom and playroom on one side, and the master bedroom and study on the other. Both levels open to sizeable terraces. The one on the second storey is framed by the building’s crowning details of a dramatic, peach-painted arch “almost like a rainbow in the sky”, describes Savage. It is a proscenium to the theatrics of nature that takes place daily. “From the beautiful sunsets to the sunrises, meditating on the balcony in the still morning air, watching the incoming march of a tropical storm—it’s all beautiful,” she says.
For the landscaping, Savage took inspiration from Manhattan apartments with gardens on their rooftops. “Gardenias are my favourite and I wanted the heady scent to fill the air when they flower. White bougainvillea softens the exterior architecture and when they are in full bloom, my husband feels like they are set for a wedding. We have visiting hornbills and a pigeon pair in residence. Their nest is tucked among the flowers and I think they are on to the sixth set of babies,” Savage enumerates.
Topiaries and hedges provide a formal framework, giving weight to the art deco architecture’s bold, dominant forms. Stone seats and fountains contribute a romantic air and an edible garden integrates the garden into the domestic routine. “We love that we can send the kids out there to pick rosemary or chilli while we have Bocelli playing on the speakers. Our Sundays are often spent in this way while we cook. A martini or two usually follows very nicely,” Savage smiles. Her husband is a matched devotee of the outdoors, taking daily cleanses in the outdoor shower. “To this day nearly five years on, he has never had a shower indoors,” muses Savage.
The affection and admiration between husband and wife are palpable. They met 22 years ago when both came to Singapore for work. “I truly believe in soul mates and he is certainly one of mine,” says Savage. The pair is also matched in the looks department. The sharp features and intense almond eyes of Savage, who is of Indian-Portuguese and English heritage from her mother and father respectively, and the dapper visage of Richards are duplicated in their cherubic offspring.
Savage’s love for her children is exhibited in the care given to the design of their bedrooms. Julian’s is decked out in a nautical theme while Allegra’s is completely girlish with powder-pink tones and soft textures. At the corridor outside their bedrooms, Savage designed a rug especially for them. “I included the all-seeing eye, housed in rays of sunshine. It is aimed at protecting my children and reminding them of universal presence. It’s meant to be dramatic, grounding and bold,” she explains. A boy and girl woven into the image represent the children. The latter perches on a ladder, inspired by the ubiquitous game of snakes-and-ladders Savage played as a child.
These Egyptian motifs and references draw her in deeply. Their relation to religion and daily life, death and love, power and weakness with symbols such as the key of life Ankh, the lotus flower, and the soul and the spirit (Ka and Ba) resonates with her. “I think it’s a past life thing. I love the motifs. They just make me feel so at home,” she contemplates. Another application is the Sur Le Nil wallpaper from Pierre Frey that wraps the second storey staircase landing. “I never get tired of looking at it. Somehow it just seems so familiar to me. I love the movement, the scale, the mastery of the print and that it looks hand-painted,” says Savage on the wallpaper that depicts imagery from ancient Egypt.
She cut through the ceiling in this part of the house to insert a skylight that brings in sun and moonshine. “It opens up the space so you look upwards and see Mother Nature all around you,” quips Savage. The journey up to this space is via a monochromatic, marble-veined staircase, edged by gilt-and-glass balustrades whose forms reference the art deco era. A photograph of Savage as a model amid large paintings collected through the years gives the staircase a gallery feel. At the top is the entertainment zone that is tucked away so that the couple and guests “can dance late into the night without disturbing the children downstairs”, laughs Savage.
To the right and left of the staircase landing, the dining and kitchen mirror each other with elements such as cabinet doors wrapped with industrial mesh electroplated in gold finish and a criss-crossing ceiling detail that reflects the brazenness of the black-and-white diamonds on the cowhide carpet. “Cowhide was used because of its durability. You can wipe it, clean it and scrub it. Even paint lifts off like magic,” Savage comments. The penthouse is a testing ground for products and materials such as this before they are implemented in other projects. Practicality is not lost amid style. “The home is designed so that the family can be together, the children can play among us and we don’t have to be precious about materials or furnishings. It is a real family home,” says Savage.
Thus, the kitchen was made deliberately commodious. “I love to cook and I wanted this room to be a communal space for us to all be in. We entertain a lot and love the open-door policy that anyone can just pop in,” says Savage. Across the hallway, the bar cabinets in the dining room are bookended cheekily with a whimsical Christian Lacroix-designed Maison De Jeu fabric from Designers Guild, which depicts an exploding deck of cards. “I like the play on the fact that the name is literally a gaming house— perfect for this area and luxe enough with the rich cotton velvet.”
Her embrace of bold patterns stems from her background. Savage was born in Nairobi, Kenya and her family immigrated to Australia in the early ’80s. “Kenya had been our family home for over 60 years. I would say that is where my heart is, although Singapore is becoming a close second after 22 years in residence. I am innately drawn to African prints and tones. I love deep ochre and the zebra print is dominant in my home.” The striped print flashes along the base of a sofa and brands the doors of the cabinet in her study room. “I love monochromatic applications as an extension of this,” she adds.
Throughout the home, black-and-white tones rival that of colourful ones. Savage’s adoration of jewel tones “as well as colours that make no apology in being bold” fill the home, adorning even utilitarian areas such as the master bathroom. On a flooring of marble and granite slabs cut and commingled into a tessellated patchwork, shower stalls and fitting of gold electroplated stainless steel add shine. By the window, a beauteous mural holds court. The arresting wallpaper depicts an abstract waterfall, graphical botanical prints and a stately egret reigning over a resting cheetah and bowing panther. “I needed to add depth to the walls and balance the bold floor design with something equally strong. The mural brings in all the tones on the floor and the egret looks outward to the world beyond,” details Savage.
Her mother was a beacon for her aesthetic pursuits. “I remember, as a child, pouring over her design magazines and falling in love. She wanted to pursue a career in interior design but it was not the ‘done’ thing in those days. However, that did not stop her from embracing daring choices in our homes. She is incredibly artistic and, without trying, seemed to be on trend. She hand-painted pineapples on the kitchen tiles in one of our homes.” This memory alludes to the power of design to emote, which Savage also excels at. “We don’t wait for iconic moments. We celebrate the here and now. We have always adopted this thinking and love the spontaneities of life.”
Photography Sayher Heffernan
Styling Jasmine Ashvinkumar
Hair and make-up Eunice Wong Wan Yun using Keune and Chanel Beauty
Styling assistant Jason Sonja