It’s no secret that Singaporeans love to eat and shop. Even better when it involves the thrill of the hunt, coupled with the unique and the unusual. Enter Pasar Bella, a new retail and dining offering that looks set to tick all the right boxes. Singapore’s first indoor multi-vendor gourmet farmer’s market, Pasar Bella is currently home to over 30 traders under one 30,000sqf roof. And here, it’s all about the experience.
Pasar Bella’s off-the-beaten-track locale lends itself to the whole experience, too. Set in an old, disused grandstand at the former Turf City in Bukit Timah, the large, warehouse-like space also contributes to its raw, industrial vibe.
Then there is the witty, almost theatrical interior setup, along with the carefully curated merchants. «We wanted a place filled with personality,» says Vincent Howe, co-founder and designer of Pasar Bella.»
He drew on his own experiences of farmers’ markets he’d visited before, such as Covent Garden in London, Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market. Pike Place Market in Seattle, and Chelsea Market in Manhattan. To inspire his team, and ensure the authenticity he wanted, he even took his design architect, contractor, and branding manager to see some of these famous farmer’s markets in real life.
FOR LOVE OF OLD
The heartfelt details are evident in almost every nook and cranny of the market, including ornate custom-designed iron lace beams that demarcate each stall and are a central theme throughout the marketplace, oversized exposed bulbs encased in intricately crafted frames as lighting fixtures, and humorous signage throughout. Looking for the bathroom? Head to the «Rooms of Ease». Or, perhaps you should simply «Keep Calm and Carry Food». The engaging details extend even to the fire hydrants, which are encased in hot pink boxes to complement the whole graphic interior. Against raw brick walls and exposed running pipes, even empty fruit crates and potato gunny sacks left carelessly by stall vendors look unwittingly stylised.
Vincent also wanted to recycle materials where possible. «We are keen on reusing materials as not only do they have a rich history and are eco-friendly, but they also fit in with our rustic theme,» he says of the sustainable ethos. Old wood pallets have been reconstructed and modified, and used in various parts of the market. Large wine barrels from Spain, retired from use by sherry and brandy makers, serve as tabletops for dining. Bird cages are painted in brightly coloured hues and re-conditioned to become lampshades.
ONE OF A KIND
Just as much thought went into sourcing for the right fit of stalls. The aim was to «stock a potpourri of leading local and overseas brands, including a catalogue of niche, unique and exotic consumables,» says co-owner Clovis Lim. A browse through the market reveals vendors selling everything from specialty kitchenware and colourful Danish melamine homeware to artisan cheeses, organic wine, craft beer, and freshly shucked oysters.
Each stall ranges between 200sqf to over 4,000sqf for the largest anchor tenant, Oceans of Seafood. Each tenant was given free rein to do up and personalise their stall, although the design still had to be approved by the Pasar Bella team. «We wanted each stall to have their own unique and creative look, but to also follow a rustic theme with a heavy emphasis on the visual placement of products,» explains Vincent. And as with the market’s sustainable ethos, tenants are to refrain from using plastic where possible. So that means paper packaging, biodegradable disposable cutlery, and store fittings of mainly natural materials.
For instance, local craft-brew vendor The Great Beer Experiment’s 250sqf space is fitted out like a human-sized wooden crate. Used draft beer kegs are turned into bar tables, and plastic beer crates are fitted with handles to become shopping baskets. A vintage wooden rocking horse at the front is a pun on the market’s Turf City history, and keeps the kids entertained while their parents drink.