Discover The Design Process Behind EDL Division


partner, formwerkz architects

We speak with Gwen Tan on her design process behind EDL Division – the first of its kind laminate gallery, in Singapore.


We see the space as one that nourishes design. It shall be a platform to share design aspirations and to promote design discourse. We approach the design of the space much alike creating art and gardens. We imagined it to be a journey through a secret garden, where there’s a heightened sense of discovery and uncovering. The journey through the various zones is carefully choreographed to create interesting visual dialogues between them. The content as illustrated or experienced in each zone is planned like chapters of a book where they are individually a complete showcase of a particular aspect of the laminate story but when pieced together they make a much richer story. This is a story where the beginning is clearly marked but the ending and sequence is not intended to be fixed.

The starting point of the journey is from the lift lobby. One is first greeted with a sense of mystery in the dark lobby which has a metallic laminate reconfigurable art wall. The individually hinged pieces can be regulated to create almost endless permutations within the lobby. View of the highly contrasting white coloured gallery – The Courtyard – is being partially revealed from the lift lobby but one needs to step in further before the entire space is unveiled. The Courtyard is the central space of the gallery where the other zones flank it on two sides, differentiated by the shades of grey for the floor of each zone. The rectilinear plan of the building is totally ‘dissolved’ in the way the fragmented zones are planned and it’s a deliberate move to conceal all free standing columns to achieve a sense of purity in each zone. A datum height of 3m is set to showcase the aesthetics made possible by the tall format laminates and one of the courtyard dividing wall is even made ‘mobile’ to accommodate greater flexibility of spatial demands of the gallery.

Apart from static display and video projections, the hidden pull-outs in The Woods and The Boutique add a different interactive dimension to the entire experience. The House features an ever growing collection of miniatures from the various design projects that EDL champions with a multitude of design practices. It is also designed to house future mini prototypes of furniture designs that EDL will embark to develop with the local design schools. A little retail therapy is thrown in at The Market to showcase a diverse range of products made from laminates and compact. This section is conceived to encourage greater exploration into the material applications of laminates and compact through creative collaborations across disciplines. The Library and The Pod completes the gallery with reference material samples and private meeting space respectively.


We wanted to demonstrate that possibilities are only limited by imagination. Laminates can have far more applications than what we typically know of. We wanted to explore beyond interior applications, including jewellery designs and other forms of product designs. We also tried convincing other trade specialists to allow us to experiment with existing systems to incorporate the laminate material. In the case of the vertical blinds in The Pod, the end result was like a delightful magic show – an element of surprise for the unexpected. We hope that our little achievements in pushing the common boundaries of laminate applications can serve as inspirations for designers out there to keep innovating and dreaming.

03 How did being in an industrial zone affect your thought process behind the space?

The site location made me recount the journey I made several years ago to visit Fondazione Bisazza in Vicenza Italy which is far more inaccessible a destination comparatively. The journey was well worth it as it was an intriguing experience with plenty of statement making installations and fun moments. That flashback gave me the insight that this place has to be such a draw to overcome the location setback. It needs to be inspiring, fun and highly adaptive to the size of events and functions it supports. In a way, the location spurred us to want a lot more out of this project. We then set very high design perimeters for ourselves.

04 How do you think the concept of a retail space has evolved over time?

Retail is not so much purely for selling these days. Prior to the Internet age, the purpose was primarily point of sales. The internet has lifted limitations in boundaries and changed retail patterns, brands need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. They need to offer an experience that one can’t simply get off the internet. They need to be non-static and possibly support more than one function as determined by rising operations costs. EXPLORE EDL DIVISION >