In a quiet neighbourhood of Singapore, far from the hustle and bustle of city life, sits the unassuming Reading Room. Guided by Buddhist principles, the design was created as a space to contemplate, relax, and escape from the outside world. Reading Room's interior design is by Singapore-based Right Angle Studio, an interior design office whose work spans residential homes to commercial interiors.
As with all of Right Angle Studio's designs, the intent was to create an engaging and timeless environment. This concept is further amplified by the influence of Buddhism in the space. Reading Room is designed to encourage the teachings of Buddhism. It, therefore, intentionally creates an environment that limits distractions and allows users to disconnect from external influences.
The design is sleek and modern, yet reminders of tradition abound. While minimalist in nature, the room is full of an eclectic mix of old and new architecture and artefacts. The rice paper room dividers, the sprinkling of traditional furnishings, and the symbolic art pieces merge seamlessly with the contemporary interior design. Signs of nature are also present in the interior: the wood panelling covering the walls, floors, and ceiling is light enough to allow the grain to peer through. Stone plinths flank the reception desk, a rough contrast against the smooth wood. And nature itself—living plant life—is a crucial feature of the room.
Bookshelves and architectural nooks hold symbols of Buddhism. These objects feel more like a part of the architecture due to their careful placement within the design. Lighting is used to draw attention to specific pieces, therefore signifying their importance. The plant life scattered throughout the space were sourced from a local Bonsai master. Inspired by natural landscapes, each piece serves as a living work of art for the viewers within Reading Room.
Reading Room intentionally breaks from other Buddhist designs in Singapore. Typically, Buddhist architecture uses a lot of gold and opulence, which can symbolise luxury. Right Angle Studio redirects visitors to the more spiritual aspects of Buddhism with the natural colours and subtle forms in their design. Reading Room is the perfect reflection of core Buddhist values: above all, a place to find zen.