The company I work for is moving to a new office this weekend. With Lilian gone and James leaving soon, moving out of the house on Oxley Road feels like an end of an era, a farewell to the “old” company. I wonder what the new one (both the house and the company) will be like.
I admit I had my doubts about it at first, but I could see the potential. My love for old houses soon won out. With some minor improvements and a fresh lick of paint, the beauty of this pre-war house (which is considered ancient in Singapore) began to shine through. I began to fall in love with its airiness, high ceilings and the abundance of natural light, which I will miss.
The main workroom for me, the interns and the boys (designers). The light fixtures are vintage and come with the house. The floors are polished cement. It always fills me with pride to hear the reactions of clients and visitors who step into our office for the first time. People just love it.
We used to have clients who would come over for meetings more often than usual just to escape the tedium of their own offices. Everybody would rave about how beautiful it was, how we must love working here, how it doesn’t feel like an office at all, how they would love to work here, what a bomb we must be paying for a place like this (it rents for substantially less than people might suspect). I couldn’t agree more. Even when I have to come to work on Saturday, the house is a consolation. It never feels like work. I sometimes find myself calling it “the house”, not the office.
Our head office in London hates it. I think they just don’t understand the culture and how aspirational this kind of place is for people in the region. Thus the move.
We painted these murals using the company motif (fish) and color (blue) last January when the economy was down — business was so slow that we had nothing else to do. It was a brilliant idea of Lilian’s — it was fun and kept us busy until work started to roll in.
When we first moved in, I made sure to get a desk beside the window for the sunshine and the greenery.
Speaking of greenery, there is so much of it around. I will miss it. Here’s the second floor hallway where Jerrold likes to have his coffee and smoke with James.
Right across from us is the yoga studio. Sometimes when I feel stressed I come up here and look out into the green and the neighborhood.
Or I go into the backyard and take a breather. More recently I’ve developed the habit of having lunch outside even though most people find it too warm out. I’ll miss the backyard too.
It’s a perfect place for barbecues, which we do quite often.
Barbecues seem to be one of the national pastimes of Singapore, right after shopping and queuing for something.
We had the last official barbecue last night and I still smell like liempo.
I’ll even miss the kitchen, which is too small to fit more than three people at a time and reminds me of a hobbit kitchen.
I’ll miss the neighborhood and stepping out into this sunshiny, quiet street (which enjoys special protection, considering Lee Kwan Yew lives on the same street). I’ll also miss the five-minute walk to Orchard Road — goodbye Uniqlo megastore, long decompressing lunches, quick decompressing shopping escapes, Mang Kiko’s lechon. I’m sure Chinatown is pretty happening as well, but well Orchard is different.
Goodbye, 55 Oxley Road. You were a lovely home to all of us. Too bad we only knew you for a year and a half.
I'm Deepa, a freelance writer living in Amsterdam. I'm a Manila girl with a European life, a thirst for travel and a desire to create. And I’m a compulsive scribbler with an irresistible urge to write about it all.