451 Joo Chiat Road

Say Joo Chiat Road, and its smattering of eateries and sleazy bars come to mind. New kid on the block, MOX, hopes to turn that street into the next creative hub.

“MOX – inspired by the word moxie – signifies being brave, bold and daring, which is exactly what the community exemplifies, the courage to be different,” says Kent Teo, founder and CEO of Invade, a creative retail space activation and events management company.

Designed with creative communities in mind, MOX is the first working space to provide facilities such as 3D printers, carpentry machines, laser cutters and working stations equipped with design software to empower makers with different skill sets.

The 40,000 sq ft space located in the newly refurbished Katong Point, is a joint venture between Invade and Buxani Group, a private real estate investment firm. Says Kishore KJ Buxani, its founder and CEO: “The retail market is tough, and we knew we did not want to turn Katong Point into another shopping mall with more of the same usual tenants.”

Spread over three floors, MOX has retail space, workshop rooms and a co-working space.On the ground floor, is where “experiential retailing” takes place, explains Teo. By that, he means that there are shops, but they offer more than just products. For example, a shopper can buy cakes from Cakerholic, and at the same time, learn how to decorate a cake and make desserts.

The second floor is where the workshop rooms are, such as for 3D printing, woodworking, leather crafting, photography and even sewing. The public can pay rent to use the equipment in these specialised rooms. MOX members have access to these rooms, and can conduct workshops for the public there too.

The third floor holds a co-working space that can house 200 people, with various options such as flexible or permanent desks and private offices.

Jackie Tan, design director of Triple Eyelid, a carpentry studio, says he likes that MOX is a co-working space made specially for creatives and crafters.

Tan runs the woodworking studio at MOX, and also has a selection of his furniture and products on sale here. This is Triple Eyelid’s second studio, after its first in Lok Yang Road.

The studio/factory in Lok Yang is used for producing bespoke furniture, while the MOX Studio is set up to encourage more people to learn wood work.

“MOX answers to a growing need for freelancers in the creative field who need a short-term physical space. As a designer, I like that I can easily collaborate with people from many other creative fields under one roof,” says Tan.

Lawrens Tan, creative director of Tee-Saurus, a locally designed and produced brand of quirky stationery and apparel, now has his first standalone store at MOX. “We started as an online store, and this partnership with MOX is a great opportunity for Tee-Saurus to reach more makers and consumers.” Tan sees MOX as a chance for him to collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs.

Teo is confident that MOX will take off in a big way, and there could be similar hubs in other locations. “If you build it, they will come,” he says.

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“We wanted to promote entrepreneurship and young startups. we kept the design of the building simple, minimalist and clean. Somehow, we attracted creative industries.”

– Grace Yang


With its nondescript facade, 16 Shaw Road looks pretty much like its neighbours in this light industrial estate in Tai Seng.

But it is home to several creative and design folks, such as designer Trixie Khong of jewellery label By Invite Only, artist Edwin Cheong who creates installations and local lingerie brand, I’m In.

The building used to be a workers’ dormitory. Landlord K16 Services turned the space into a creative hub, by accident.

“We wanted to promote entrepreneurship and young startups,” says Grace Yang, general manager of K16 Services, which manages commercial and industrial buildings.

She adds: “We kept the design of the building simple, minimalist and clean. Somehow, we attracted creative industries.” Not that anyone is complaining.

In fact, the building has been so popular with tenants, since opening in November 2016, it already has 60 tenants, and only two empty units are left.

Units vary in size from 400 sq ft to 1,900 sq ft. Tenants here get more than just a space.

K16 Services provides a 24-hour concierge service, ad-hoc cleaning services, storage space rental, and a delivery van service. Most of the services are chargeable, “but it saves tenants from having to look for vendors outside”, says Yang.

New startup, lingerie label I’m In, moved into the building three months ago. “We were attracted by the affordable rental rates, and the large space,” says Elfaine Tan, its designer.

The team of five design the lingerie from this office, while the manufacturing is done in China. They’re sold online and at some department stores. Storage space is a boon for the young company as “it’s convenient and cost-effective, especially when it’s all within the same building”.

Khong, who started her jewellery label in 2009, is another satisfied tenant who moved in in May. At her previous office, the management team was unresponsive, the traffic was chaotic and parking was a problem. “All these small problems may not seem a lot but when they build up on a daily basis, it becomes very distracting,” she says.

She has yet to use any of the additional services but feels they are useful. “As a small business, we cannot afford to have our own delivery van or get a bigger space as storage. With these services, we are able to pay for what we use and that is definitely more cost-effective,” says Khong. “I trust K16 with these services rather than getting help from a third-party.”

For her, there’s another plus being in a creative hub. “There is the possibility of collaborations,” says Khong. For example, she can tap the services of the marketing companies to help promote her label. “Another company does 3D printing, and we could explore 3D printed jewellery in the future.”

Story first appeared on The Business Times.