The 60's and 70's meet the 90's in an explosion of flamboyant style and living color.
It all started two years ago -1996. An empty shell. A tabula rasa that two design chameleons would unleash into a creative exploration; merging the pop art icons of the 60's and the 70's with the raw minimalist frontier of the 90's. Architects by training, American Ed Poole and Englishman Andrew Jones of Poole Associates have dramatically transformed this interior. Once you have seen the place, it is indeed mind numbing to discover that this is a club for police reservists. SPANS or the Singapore Police Association for National Servicemen on the third floor of the Orchard Building is a pulsating beacon of imaginative decor and design styles.
Looking up at the large capsule windows of Cop Cafe from Orchard Road at night, anyone would imagine that wild party animals are having the time of their lives as throbbing orange and pink neon lights compete with shimmering points of light from a revolving mirrored ball strung above the cafe counter. These flashing and shimmering lights act as a subliminal signage for Cop Cafe as it draws the curious to find out more, says Poole. Reaching the third floor of the lift lobby, you will find it plain, stark and simple. The tantalizing jingle of jackpot machines drawing you inwards. You enter the reception lobby and walk right into a 70's time warp of a Formica-clad capsule reception counter and short-piled olive green carpeting over a mosaic floor. To the side of the Jackpot Room sits an almost concealed guest lobby. Finnish designer Eero Saarinen's molded fiberglass Tulip chairs and a Formica-and-glass capsule-shaped TV cabinet in pristine white fill the space. Surreal yet classy.
Hitting The Jackpot :
The Jackpot Room is a nomenclature of 70's Las Vegas casino style. The high ceiling is dramatically lowered by an Indian rosewood barrel-vaulted panel. Behind the row of one-arm bandits, the wall is draped in a fluttering rectangular strip of shimmering sequins reminiscent of Paco Rabane's 1960's metal dress classics. A beveled diamond patterned mirror is fitted on the rear wall of the room to optically lengthen the long narrow room. Poole Associates custom-designed the octopus-like ceiling lights and details such as the miniature playing card stick-on motifs on the lip of the lampshades.
Tackling The Road Less Traveled :
The awkward L-shaped floor plan that the design duo had to work with posed one of the biggest challenges of the project. The original 13,000 square foot plan was roughly rectangular and shared by California Fitness and the Orchard Building atrium. This resulted in a long narrow corridor which walks you into Lava Lounge and Cop Cafe. But the problem, stresses Jones was how to get people to realize that there was something happening down that very long corridor. A psychedelic orange, yellow and red signage to the left of the lift lobby was one of the innovative solutions that Poole and Jones devised. Once people were enticed into the corridor, they were further lured by the drop in the six meter high ceiling which compresses the field of vision emphasizing the view to the left of the corridor where Lava Lounge is situated, explains Jones.
The Simulated Shooting Range is located to the right of the corridor. This restricted entry section was deliberately concealed with black vinyl. Adjacent to this room is the extension of California Fitness and the atrium. The glass door panels along the sides of the corridor were lined with reverse circle patterns in metallic vinyl appliqué stick-ons. When you peer through the Lounge and into the corridor where the illuminated atrium stands, the reversed pattern widens the space visually by an interplay of transparency, spatial depth and light.
Amazing Lava :
The Lava Lounge is breathtaking. It is the nerve center of the club, jazzed up by over 40 shades of hot pinks, orange, yellow and reds. More than 35 lava lamps stand on base shelves positioned at head-level on the walls. The gooey blood-red 'lava'-like bits undulate in sensuous blobs and adds to the heady mood of the lounge. A custom-designed carpet in raspberry red features subtle imagery such as tangerine body outlines mimicking the chalked out body at a crime scene. The 60's and 70's were plundered for decorative inspiration because, as Poole and Jones explain, that period was marked by an inordinately large number of detective movies and TV series such as James Bond, Charlie's Angels and The Saint. The Lava Lounge is a feat of design as six karaoke rooms, a KJ station, a dance floor, bar counters, a pool table and seats are accommodated in a relatively limited area of 2,700 square feet. Four karaoke rooms are located on a split level on the right of the lounge. On the left side, stands a wall in police uniform blue, the pool table, two karaoke rooms and the KJ's room. On a split-level above, a steel bridge for Go-Go dancers leads the way to the DJ's booth.
Check Out The Fly Babes :
These karaoke rooms sport the late 50's style with Florence Knoll-inspired modular sofas, faux-fur cushions, capsule Formica clad consoles and stunning epoxy-resin tables. What is simply brilliant about these custom designed tables are that they are a take-off of the Lava Lamps. Each table resembles two lava blobs connected by an umbilical cord. This encourages socializing between two groups of people as they move away from their table and down the cord.
Poole and Jones built up the 70's party-forever attitude using 'intelligent' lights fitted with psychedelic slide frames that throw head-spinning purple images across the circular dance floor. Wall barriers skirting the dance floor double up as light reflectors and drink rails. Road mirrors are grouped into a pop art piece at the DJ booth and airbrushed images of two Fly Girls or Disco Queens painted by Willy Baet of Poole Associates are a terrific statement-making device. These babes articulate the 70's hippy style with loud Afro hair-dos, exaggerated pink pearlescent make-up, hoop earrings and oversized sunglasses.
Sourcing Designer Classics :
As it was difficult to source for classic designer furniture and furnishings in Singapore, Poole Associates had to custom-design furniture and fittings with that 1960's and 1970's parlance. Their inspired pieces from the epoxy resin table tops, a 90's take on the mirror ball, here formed as an elongated cylinder to the sultry orange glass cylinder ceiling lights in the Lava Lounge and the corridor are classics in themselves. The result? Unforgettable and worth every ounce of effort. Gunned Down In Cop Cafe :
The Cop Cafe is where people gravitate for a snack or drink, drawn to the swirling mirrored ball and neon lights like moths to a flame. In the cafe, a long food counter is rounded off with a bar counter, over which hangs the mirrored ball. The semi-circular plan of the room overlooking Orchard Road dictated such an arrangement, explains Poole.
A washed out wall with a rectangular capsule cut-out echoes the adjacent window panels. The blank wall acts as a reflector, bouncing off the shimmering shards of light from the mirrored ball. Sunlight pours in through the yellow capsule windows to highlight the curve of Cop Cafe and flood the space with fresh and fruity natural light.
Jones and Poole stripped the six-meter high ceiling to expose its raw concrete beams as it compliments the raw concrete columns and concrete wall treatment. This they say, is very 90's minimalist. A raised metal deck runs along the curve of the room - its slats provide an interesting chiaroscuro display on sunny afternoons, and gives the cafe a space age feel.
Cops-and-robbers' imagery fills the Cop Cafe, from the body outlines on the carpet to the recessed bullet hole-like motifs on the ceiling and a circular motif pattern that resembles a gun chamber. Fourteen artworks, created by Poole Associates, throughout SPANS were inspired by 70's pop artists and are used as concept enhancing elements, adding visual interest to the huge gallery like spaces of the clubhouse.