THE STORY OF SAMPAN

THE RICH HISTORY AND CULTURE OF SINGAPORE WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS COLLECTION WHICH TRANSFORMS BATHING INTO A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME

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INSPIRATION

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A second home for apaiser, Singapore is one of our favourite places in the world. A cultural melting pot, the city boasts a stunning array of architectural styles. It is a hub for some of the region’s most talented designers, including our friends at WOHA, pioneers of biophilic architecture, and integration of environmental and social principles in the design process.

The WOHA studio is located in a cluster of traditional shophouses behind Singapore’s Boat Quay. Steeped in colonial history and filled with architectural gems, this unique place is at the heart of the story behind the collection.

  • WOHA architects office singapore boat quay

Boat Quay is where the iconic sampan boats were once moored on the Singapore River. Singapore has been a thriving trading port since the days of Sir Stamford Raffles, and the River was its economic lifeblood. Goods were unloaded into warehouses known as godowns, using sampans – small, nimble riverboats.

Sampan, Cantonese for “3 Boards”, describes the uniquely designed but simple boats, fashioned by hand from a flat plank of wood as the base, with two angled planks making the sides.

These rudimentary and efficient vessels, elegant in both simplicity and functionality, were the initial inspiration behind the Sampan collection for Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell, the founding directors of WOHA and wohabeing.

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THE DESIGN PROCESS & PURPOSE

At first glance, the Sampan collection is disruptive and theatrical. But the true beauty is in the detail. An extensive ergonomic study was undertaken during the design process, with the apaiser x woha team agonising over every line, dimension, and angle to achieve optimum comfort and immersive experience through analysis of the human body, geometry, and materials.

“When we were exploring ideas for a bathware collection, we wanted to move away from the prevalent round, flowing lines – and we really liked the straight lines and angles of origami art. We looked at how we could translate this inspiration into an innovative form, and that’s how we came up with the designs for the Sampan Collection. We built several mockups of the Double Bath to make sure the proportions were right and that is comfortable to sit and lie in, and then apaiser produced the beautiful piece that we first showed at Maison&Objet.”, says Richard Hassell.
 

DOUBLE BATH

The essence of the Collection is beautifully illustrated
by the SAMPAN DOUBLE BATH

While the form of the soaking bath is inspired by the shape of the Sampan boats and the idea of a romantic, bathing journey, the user experience was designed to be akin to snuggling into a generous, wing-backed armchair. The oversized canopy creates a private sanctuary and sense of seclusion from the outside world. While armrests and angled backrests make it easier to relax with a book or tablet and encourage you to settle in for a long soak.

  • sampan double bath apaiser designer bathware masion at objet
    Sampan Double Bath at Maison et Objet 2017

To maintain the low profile of the bath without compromising depth, the base is designed to be recessed into the floor. The wide edge of the bath wall has two clever functions – safe entry and exit, and overflow. Inspired by infinity pools in a luxury hotel, the signature overflow channel not only provides a safeguard against displacement of water when you sink in but adds a sense of occasion and luxury.
 

SHOWER BATH

Inspired by shallow Japanese reflective pools, the SAMPAN SHOWER BATH echoes the architectural lines of the freestanding bath, and is a spatially efficient, remarkable bathe & shower solution.

Imagine the bath filled (almost) to the brim, with sunlight shimmering on the surface and the ubiquitous frangipani floating gently as the water ripples in the breeze, and step on into the wonders of the Sampan shower bath. This design is a stylish reimagination of the space-saving, shower over bath idea – born of necessity and typically compromising both functions.

This piece is different. The bathing function has been modelled on the idea of lying in a bed, covered in water, with the infinity overflow imparting a feeling of indulgence. The low profile and efficient soaking depth reduce water consumption, but also makes it the perfect bath for children. Naturally slip-resistant, the material, combined with the low height and generous footprint – provides a safe and pleasurable shower experience.

  • apaiser bathware sampan shower bath designer bathware wallpaper handmade salone del mobile
    Sampan Shower Bath

 

SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

“We think that building in a way that is sustainable both socially and environmentally is the only way forward, and we have been committed to finding solutions for living well on an increasingly crowded planet since we started our practice.”(…)”With wohabeing, we use the same principles. We work with partners who have the same social and environmental principles as we do. We source sustainable, non-toxic materials and ensure that the products are made under good working conditions.” – Richard Hassell & Wong Mun Summ, WOHA

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The marriage of WOHA’s environmental principles and apaiser’s commitment to ethically sourced materials and low impact production processes have resulted in a collection that puts sustainability at its heart.

Like all apaiser designs, each Sampan piece is handcrafted using the innovative material exclusive to apaiser known as apaiserMARBLE. Made from reclaimed crushed marble sourced from local quarries, we use an available resource which would otherwise become landfill to create our stunning bathware.

  • Sampan Collection woha wohabeing apaiser designer bathware sampan shower bath
    Sampan Shower Bath

POSTSCRIPT

Selected pieces from the Collection were launched in September 2017 at Maison et Objet in Paris. Additional pieces were designed for the Wallpaper Handmade exhibition during Milan design week in April 2018, after the collaboration was selected by the esteemed Wallpaper team. This year Sampan became part of WOHA’s dedicated submission for Maison Object Digital Fair, in September 2020.

Explore the collection here.
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