From shipping container to inspiring office.

All photos by Rebecca Toh.

Nestled behind his house in the east coast area of Singapore, a modified shipping container became a comfortable working space for furniture designer Nathan Yong.

Why did you choose to use a shipping container?
Containers are strong, mobile and modular. I like how even after being modified into an office, it still retains its original function of protection.

How did you modify it?
I added sliding glass doors and made furniture to fit the space. It’s a narrow room, just 7.5 feet wide, but by making the tables and shelves the same size, I can change the layout without creeping into walking space. The color maroon was chosen for its intensity, power, passion, warmth and strength, evocative of bricks.

What do you see when sitting at your desk?
I can see the dancing shadows of my Bodhi Tree against the afternoon sun, and when the wind blows, its fallen heart-shaped leaves scatter around. I often hear birds and the occasional crying from my neighbor’s kids, but it’s all good.

Why did you choose an Eames Aluminum Group Chair for your desk seating?
I like the clean silhouette of this chair and its beautifully sculpted armrests. It took superb engineering to keep everything neat and quiet. Plus, it looks so effortless and lightweight when compared to bulky office chairs that stress me out just by looking at them. They seem to be built for battle instead of calming me down.

What are your go-to sources for inspiration?
I have a trolley filled with interesting materials in my office, plus some plants and ceramics, 3-D prints of projects and my sketchbooks. I have regular books too but don’t read them for inspiration. I prefer to play and observe.

Reference materials and a human-shaped figurine that Nathan pairs with 3-D printed models to give him a sense of scale.

What do you collect?
I didn’t realize I collected figurines of animals until a friend made a comment about my office being like a zoo. I think I’m drawn to them because I know it’s hard to capture the spirit of any animal. First, you have to observe its behavior, then use the right material and technique to translate what you see. To me, it’s the epitome of good design.

Nathan and his dog Jagger.

In addition to being like a zoo, what about your office would friends say is “so Nathan”?
The honesty and casualness of it. Its natural surroundings and the quietness away from city life. It’s light and very open. Just like me.