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Behind the Design with Charu Gandhi: The OWO Raffles Residences

Eliycon founder, Charu Gandhi takes us inside the newly renovated OWO Raffles Residences.

Jon Sharpe
By Jon Sharpe, Chief Creative Officer
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Built on the original site of the Palace of Whitehall, the Old War Office was first constructed by architect William Young in 1906. It served as the nerve centre for many of the most prominent political figures of the 20th century including Winston Churchill. Fast forward to 2023 and this historic building embarks on a new adventure as The OWO Raffles Residences. Visionary interior designer and founder of celebrated studio Elicyon, Charu Gandhi embarks on a quest to capture the essence of this storied space and create an oasis of tranquillity amidst the bustling city. Gandhi gives us an exclusive look at this elegant and atmospheric space, delving into each of its stories and secrets. As you step inside The Old War Office, you gain a sense of restoration meeting modernity, breathing new life into age-old grandeur.

Within the living room, vintage-inspired furniture converges with contemporary elements to create a harmonious blend. A reimagined chandelier inspired by the 1940s radiates warmth and charm, whilst a upholstered ottoman with a pinstripe fabric pays homage to Churchill's suiting styles. Delicately nestled among the décor is a captivating drawing of a lion, an ode to Churchill's middle name, Leonard, and the affectionate nickname Leo.

OWO Raffles Residences Living Room
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On the connection with the past…

“There was in fact, we discovered a really amazing legacy where messages during the war were passed through an internal concealed pipe system, you would roll up paper with the message and pass it through the system. That reference, as you'll see, comes through where we put a lot of art which is on paper rather than photographic art or art on canvas.”

OWO Raffles Residences Living Room Details
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Drawing inspiration from the building's illustrious past, the designer infuses touches of her childhood in Singapore, crafting an atmosphere that effortlessly exudes serenity and elegance with gentle nods to the natural world. It's these subtle touches that infuse the living room with a graceful legacy. As she guides us through her creation, Gandhi reveals how prints featuring shells and architectural drawings beautifully embrace colour, intertwining it with the home's captivating design.

OWO Raffles Residences Exterior
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On introducing the Far East…

“There is a really lovely reference to the Far East. I spent my early years in Singapore, and what that led to was a sort of natural development of a project which feels like it's an English home but of someone who travels, who loves the world but brings it all back to this very British home.”

Throughout this remarkable residence, Elicyon weaves similar mesmerising details, creating a symphony of harmony and connection across the rooms. A magnificent kilim rug, handwoven with natural fibres, graces the dining room, infusing it with a touch of ethereal beauty.

OWO Raffles Residences Dining Room
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In the bedroom, a four-poster bed nods to The OWO's architectural legacy, its polished brass frame an exquisite touch. Yet, the magic doesn't end there. A sweeping landscape view unfolds by reimagining the tapestry with a fabric framing, transforming the bedroom into a sanctuary of serenity. Elicyon thoughtfully reimagined and designed this historic home, weaving its every detail and history into a tapestry of timeless elegance.

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On creating bespoke pieces for the bedroom…

“It's a bespoke piece that we commissioned by a British maker, and the frame and the sort of proportion of the bed makes reference to the architectural legacy of the oval, and finished with these polished brass tops, which I think is quite fun and brings a sort of nice contemporary edge to it. I really like how we've created a fabric framing to the back of the bed. It's a sort of soft interpretation of a headboard. It's not all around the bed, which I think is too formal and maybe too traditional, especially if the bedroom's quite large. It's nice to sort of bring the bed in a bit.”

In creating this unique space, Elicyon aimed to capture a fleeting moment in the evolution of a home. It's not the end of the journey for this property, but the beginning, as its occupants infuse it with personal treasures and mementoes of their travels. We are fortunate to witness this enchanting home at this very moment, a snapshot of its timeless allure.

This isn't the end of the journey for this property. It will continue to evolve as the person who occupies it adds more pieces and objects from their travels. We have the privilege of marking it at this moment in time.