The Singapore retail scene is in dire straits. Empty shopfronts dominate the landscape and the once thriving Orchard Road is a pale shadow of itself. A combination of lacklustre promotions, non-diverse retail mix (do we really need another Uniqlo?) and cheaper online alternatives have made landlords and tenants scrabbling for an antidote for their ills.

Funan believes it has the answer. Although the new mall will only be officially opened in 2019, its developer CapitaLand just opened a retail show suite at the junction of Hill Street and High Street that is unlike any other showrooms we’ve been to.

The facade of the Funan show suite

Centred around The Tree of Life, the show suite, which is opened to the public, is a wood and steel structure that houses a variety of open platforms and studios for local makers to hold events and workshops. You can also check out the new features and retail offerings that Funan has incorporated into the mall, including a rock climbing wall, a futsal pitch and garden patch for urban farmers, and a bicycle track that runs within the mall.

“The future is car-less and we want to promote that. Office professionals can cycle to work, wash up, then store their wheels within Funan,” Kevin Siew, vice president for retail development of Funan, shares.

An artist’s impression of the new Funan

We love how Funan has placed a huge emphasis on nurturing local brands and designers, which is a much-needed shot in the arm for many budding local entrepreneurs who are being squeezed by greedy landlords. W!LD RICE has already taken up most of the fourth floor, designing and operating a 380-seat theatre. Lord knows the business district could do with more arts and culture.

There are also serviced apartments and offices within the new Funan. We might have to wait two more years but we sincerely hope other malls in Singapore will start following Funan’s lead. The retail scene has a dearth of fresh ideas and an experiential concept like Funan’s might just be what the doctor ordered.

Check out the workshop programme at Funan’s show suite and sign up for them here.

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