Explore Local Filmmaker Daniel Yun’s Classy, Contemporary Abode

After decades of living in landed homes and private condos with sleek designs, Singaporean filmmaker Daniel Yun has returned to the heartlands. “I got to the point where I grew tired of the zen style of my corner terrace home in Thomson Hill,” he says. “I wanted to come home to something calm. Lesson learnt: when you put a human in a zen room, the zen flies out the window.”

Now, four years on, Daniel, who’s in his 50s, can’t be happier in his “classic and contemporary” abode – a five-room flat atop the iconic clover-shaped HDB block in Ang Mo Kio which commands sweeping views of the Upper and Lower Peirce Reservoirs.

He had a concrete design vision for his home: a fairly minimal black and white interior with rustic touches of distressed timber and retro elements. With the help of interior designer Eugene Yip, they found ways to pull the look together.

A desire for a more open layout meant reworking the original floorplan. The month-long reno included an overhaul of the original three bedrooms (“everything was stripped bare”) to create a large master suite.

Instead of erasing away all the flat’s character, though, his contemporary transformation is a one-of-a-kind tribute to the building’s original features. The pearlescent terrazo floor, vintage mosaic tiles and grilles, all popular in the 1980s (the period the block was built) are now key to the transformation, and plenty of research went into finding the right materials. Anything that didn’t fit into his “clean and timeless” aesthetic was out – including most of his Chinese pop-art paintings collected over the years.

The objects that remain tell his story. There’s the colourful collage of his favourite movies hanging in the bedroom, the antique marble dining table where he’s hosted initmate dinners with famous movie directors and stars, and right above it, the 1930s Shanghainese pendant lamp that appeals to his Sinophilia sensibilities.

In his spare time, Daniel reconfigures vintage furniture such as the white armchair in the hall (it so happens to bear a striking resemblance to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s “Marble Chair”) and re-sells them on Carousell. The space isn’t just his home – it’s also a showcase for his love for modern Chinese art.

“I like things to be easy in a house, to be comfortable and natural. I don’t like anything that’s too staged,” says the media veteran. “There’s a story of Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong filmmaker) getting ready to shoot a movie scene. The production crew had spent half a day perfecting the set, and Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung were dressed and taking their spots. Kar-wai said, ‘Good, good. Now go and get someone to live here for one week and then we’ll come back in’. Everyone nearly fainted,” he laughs.

“You see, it’s this idea of having the human touch. In this home I feel like I’ve slipped into a very comfortable T-shirt, and it finally feels like homecoming to me.”

This was adapted from an article originally written by Sylvia Ong published in the January 2017 issue of SquareRooms.