In the world of interiors, gone are the days of sterile minimalism. In its place, you’ll find tiled floors lined with knick-knacks, shelves stacked to their rims with tiny mementos, and walls plastered from corner to edge.
Characterised by bold colour, organic shapes and funky texture, today’s chicest bedrooms are flooded with individuality. This personality-driven, mess-led design trend has been given a sweet but pointed name: cluttercore.
One of these quirky spaces belongs to Hee Kerru, a 19-year-old artist who lives in a Woodlands flat with her parents and younger brother. Their home, while well-renovated and elegant, has the trademark sign of newer build high-rise apartments in Singapore: tiny bedrooms.
Not that Hee could be held back by space constraints. Entering her bedroom is like walking into an art museum. Her walls, which she sees as prime real estate for self-expression, are fully covered—one with a surrealistic painting done by Hee of a flower that turns into a snake, and the other with her kaleidoscopic collection of art, memorabilia and posters.
On her largest wall, I count everything from a vintage Vogue cover to the paper packaging of Haw Flakes, a popular Singaporean snack made from hawthorn that Hee loves. Mementos from media she identifies with—posters from films like Fight Club, Léon: The Professional and The Grand Budapest Hotel hang beside a Bauhaus-esque canvas bearing the words ‘Tame Impala’, a band whose songs she constantly plays from a vinyl album on her vintage record player—are put up alongside flyers from festivals she has been to. In short, on Hee’s wall, her heart, mind and creativity are on full display.
“When it comes to cluttercore, the only rule is to be true to yourself”
In a quest to express their individuality and in a direct challenge to the artificial homogeneity of modern design, young folk have embraced a rebellious, spontaneous and somewhat instinctual method of designing their homes. When it comes to cluttercore, the only rule is to be true to yourself.
“We are looking at a rise in rooms with more character, more personality and most importantly—more stories,” says Luke Edward Hall, a British interior designer who is known for his offbeat design style and was once tapped by Burberry to make art for its spring/summer 2016 international campaign. “Cluttercore simply means living with layers of beautiful things that bring about happiness. These things are often eclectic and full of colour and pattern, but no one interior will look like the other.”
Idiosyncratic objects big and small fill every corner of Hee’s room, from a repainted antique TV that turns on only to static (“I just like it for the aesthetic,” she admits sheepishly) to a sunflower yellow frame from a broken Gustaf Westman mirror she snagged for a steal on Shopee.
It’s a dizzying yet altogether fun experience trying to take it all in—like a hyperactive game of Where’s Wally. Beside the frame, a flower-shaped side table in neon orange stands on one green leg—ostensibly, the stem. “Don’t put anything heavy on it,” Hee warns, “I made it entirely out of cardboard.”
Of the hundreds of eccentric items in her room, Hee has created over half by hand, investing hours and days of work into making her room feel exactly the way it does.
After all, dressing her room this way means a lot to her. “I could not imagine not living like this,” Hee reflects. “If I woke up one day and my walls were bare, I would probably burst into tears.”
Photography Sayher Heffernan
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