The black-clad OCBC Premier Bank in Singapore has been designed by Studio Juju to look more like an art gallery than a stuffy financial institution, writes Iliyas Ong.
If it weren’t for the signboard, passers-by would be forgiven for thinking the new OCBC Premier Bank was an art gallery. The two-storey branch, located in the Orchard Gateway mall, bears all the hallmarks of a temple to the fine arts: a stark colour palette, plush furnishings, and, of course, the art itself.
The bank has been designed by Studio Juju in collaboration with the OCBC Customer Experience Design Team as a space where discerning customers are offered the highest level of services. The design is a departure from the traditional interiors expected of such an institution, yet also “strictly performs its formal function” and ensures customers feel secure and confident, according to the design house.
“[As] this premier bank centre is located in the heart of a fashion/shopping district, it makes a lot of sense to re-invent the aesthetics of the formal premier bank identity,” says Studio Juju co-founder Timo Wong. “Customers who visit this branch can experience it in a way similar to a boutique or a gallery.”
The 357sqm branch, which opened in April this year, is dominated by what Wong calls a “gallery lounge space” on the first storey. Two dark granite walls hide teller and meeting rooms to create an open area, where Studio Juju-designed sofas sit beside low tables. Artwork by South Korean photographer Sang Taek Oh hangs on the walls as Erco, Tom Dixon and Forscarini lights dangle from the ceiling, all of which breathe more life into what tends to be an austere setting.
“The design of this space does away with counters, tiny waiting areas and customers waiting to be ushered into rooms. We focused on an experience where customers can make transactions or consult a bank executive in the comfort of a lounging space,” explains Wong. He adds that customers who are accustomed to greater privacy can be led to the private rooms behind the walls.
This uncluttered aesthetic is encapsulated by the colour palette deployed throughout the bank. While the leathered black walls and polished white marble provide the crispness typical of art galleries, this is tempered by Studio Juju’s controlled use of brass and gold accents, textiles with strong colours and prints, and natural wooden floors.
Even OCBC’s iconic peony motif has been modernised, to gel with the Premier Bank; it takes the form of a perforation on the screen that greets visitors when they step into the branch. Large black-framed windows on the bank’s exterior allow passers-by to catch a glimpse of the motif as well as Sang’s painterly photographs. If ever the worlds of art and commerce collide, the result would probably look close to the OCBC Premier Bank.
Photography by Rebecca Toh