The Great Madras


FARM received a rather open brief for the design of Singapore hotel The Great Madras. The studio was simply tasked with designing a stylish yet affordable boutique hotel. However, when the design team saw the handsome art deco building and the location, they recognised an opportunity to create something special. “It got us feeling all romantic about hotels and travel,” says FARM.

Little India is an extremely exciting and vibrant pocket of Singapore – arguably its most unfettered and authentic. FARM felt this was a unique chance (in the context of a clean and modern city) to make something a little bit more characterful. The intent was to create Singapore’s coolest little hotel. FARM imagined the project as not merely somewhere providing a pleasant stay, but as a place that would add to the vibrancy to the neighbourhood and offer a memorable persona where stories and anecdotes could collect over time.

A close look at the specially commissioned wallpaper in the lobby will reveal images of stories and narratives that revolve around people, objects and buildings in the neighbourhood – indicative of the layers of experience at The Great Madras. There is much to discover, from small design elements such as the hand-bent wire room numbers, quirky name cards, intentionally ghosted directional signage, enamel cups, vintage telephones and other accessories; to more intangible elements such as the buzz and hum of the communal spaces, or the way the venue brings life to the street with its open and porous frontage spilling out onto the pavement.

The appearance of the hotel is only one aspect of its appeal. The design engages the neighbourhood and allows for the creation of memorable experiences. FARM’s hope is that The Great Madras may make people a little happier. Architecture, interior and story telling are woven together to create something more than the sum of its parts. FARM sought to create a great little hotel with heart and personality, not just something that looks good.

Photography: Studio Periphery