An Ionic Bond

21st July saw the soft opening of much-hyped frenzified Ion Orchard. Designed by UK-based Benoy Architects, Ion Orchard fills the high-end niche gap, converting Pinoy park into purchasing paradise.

The ground plane separates the luxury boutiques from more “mass” brands, while Orchard MRT station becomes significantly porous, with many new connections everywhere. The reaction of its opening is immediate – usual hotspots along the shopping stretch became pleasantly empty, as though Ion became a synergistic amalgamation of all these other shopping centres such that it’s a one-stop shopping arena; fragments of Paragon, Marina Square fade in and out. qmark’s notes:

Design Design Design – If anything, the face of design is made most painstakingly conspicuous. Virgin flagship stores in 70% of the retail space mean that 1st impressions count so much more. And the remaining 30% would go all out to impress in this crazy competition. So the shopper is awed. The crisp coordinated world of ID, packaging design, brand marketing and corporate identities elevate the shopping experience.

Light and Buzz – The lit facade isn’t a new trend, but it copies from the neon pop culture glare of Times Square, Tokyo and Hong Kong to dizzying effect. Can drivers identify the red traffic light at the junction? Worrisome. Granted the buzz factor is there, but this Nintendo nightmare can take some subtlety cues from the Paragon or YMCA.

A Ceiling Trend – From Iluma to OC, it seems that distinction lies in the ceiling. People enter and look up. They see amorphous rails and it’s the Iluma. They see SANAA-inspired square punctures of light and it’s the OC. In Ion an expansive carton of sinuous ribs envelop the internal sky, like we are in a taut fabric balloon of ergonomic calculated curves. The ceiling height seem surprisingly low, and the atriums unexpectedly small. but the ceiling creates this illusion of infinity quite successfully by not reminding us of the rectilinear edges.

Japanese Influx – Japanese-crazy Singaporeans should be happy to note the marked presence of authentic Japanese brands in the mall, mostly selling their famed crafted and colourful regional cuisine.

And some noteworthy retail highlights:

Watami – Established Japanese F&B chain proffers a high service standard. People should be impressed with pitch-perfect いらしゃいませ! (Irashyaimase-!) , wait staff who self-introduces, bows and takes orders while kneeling at your side (which I find unnecessary). Food has very good-value, good taste, and I will recommend it to all of you.

Modern Peking Duck – 5 pieces for $6. People queue for the novelty of watching chefs slice the duck meat stressfully and tasting this imperial delicacy, but if falls flat – no scallions, no sweet sauce, no garlic sauce! Now I miss 全聚德 / Quanjude.

R Burger – People gawk at Adam Chen QC-ing the alignment of the menu on the wall.

Royce’ – Clinical, harsh industrial white lights + Korean Air-like uniform of the young Japanese-looking staff.

VERY wooonderland – Local fashion brand aggregator relocates. Choice call for fashionistas.

ThreeSixty Marketplace – This marks a new height in luxury mart. High grade goods of bewildering international and regional brands make their packaging presences felt. Ghirardelli chocolate, Fortnum and Mason groceries (the British royal family’s supplier), Phoenix organic cola?

Das Erzgebirge Haus – I was delighted to spot this piece of Europe selling traditional Christmas wood craftwork. If only it were alongside a sun-drenched old cobblestone street.

CityLuxe – Obtain mercantilistic products like ex libris, feather pens here with a hint of Venice.

Ultimately, when it comes to malls, architectural design can only sustain the overall glamour about the place. The real ingredient is actually the retail mix – the one major point where Ion trumps over other new malls.


has $$ coming in soon.


4 responses to “An Ionic Bond

  1. “pinoy park to purchasing paradise”! nice.

    makes you wonder how many malls singapore really needs.

    i think consumerism as a cultural identity is like ACSians saying they’re bad in chinese because they’re from ACS; it galvanises people around what is in fact, a very regretable condition.

  2. is consumerism such a bad thing? its a characteristic of capitalist societies, spending aids the economy too…

  3. it forms one of the larger components of GDP and it stir competition and innovation.

    and yet, taken to its logical conclusion as a cultural force and you get Dubai.

    it’s about moderation i suppose; love the wine rack btw! and the little wooden toys are really cute.

  4. dubai is too extreme!
    the extreme end of consumerism always become overly planned / designed, but sometimes what the consumers really want is some real surprise, not an orchestrated one.

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