Creating a Home at 21 Moonstone

Tan Yang Er (CS’16) recounts how 21 Moonstone, an emerging shared studio space for creatives, came to be.

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It started with the news that the aunties running a catering business on the ninth floor of Poh Leng Building along 21 Moonstone Lane were retiring. They were looking for someone to take over the lease.

First intrigued by its street name, and later by the natural light that streamed through 21 Moonstone’s glass windows, former schoolmates Tan Yang Er, Jeremy Lim and Narelle Kheng (all CS’16) and fellow friend Vincent Ho jumped at the opportunity.

“All four of us just fell in love with this space at the right time in our lives,” said Tan, an artist, art director and photographer. After three months of DIY renovation — from doing up the wooden flooring, to paintwork and sourcing for furniture — the four officially opened the doors of 21 Moonstone, a shared studio for creatives, last July.

VIDEO: DARREN CHING

In just over a year, 21 Moonstone has grown into an emerging co-working and events space for millennial creatives in Singapore.

“The moment I stepped in here I loved it,” said Tan. Previously, Tan and Kheng would go to each other’s houses to paint, but there was never enough space, the 25-year-old added. Kheng, also 25, is a musician in local band The Sam Willows.

“In this space, we can talk about life and friends, just like at a kopitiam.”

TAN YANG ER (CS'16)co-founder of 21 Moonstone

Tan said: “We had always dreamt of somewhere we could work together with our friends. We wanted a community and our own kampong.”

In the day, 21 Moonstone is a co-working space for creatives. By night, it hosts pop-up rooftop parties — think R&B music, DJs and drinks and bar nights. 21 Moonstone also holds localised daytime events with unique offerings like tarot card readings and flash tattoo sales. Open to all, pop-up events run once in two months.

Apart from being Tan’s daily workspace where she conceptualises projects and meets clients, which include brands like Pedro, the studio also currently hosts two other mainstays.

The space is shared by video production company Telescope Studios, co-owned by Jeremy Kieran Ng (CS’19) and his friends, and a company that plans ski trips in Niseko.

Leasing 21 Moonstone took a leap of faith since the co-founders only had two days to decide before the place was offered to someone else, said Lim. The four took over the lease even before Kheng and Ho had seen it in person.

Nonetheless, the four of them work well together, Tan said.

Tan manages the space and people, and does even the sometimes menial work, like trash control and making sure toilet paper is always stocked. Kheng, on the other hand, is mostly the one behind Moonstone’s publicity. Ho’s background in business and finance at Singapore Management University, coupled with his family’s F&B business, helped as well.

“It was a pretty good mix of everything coming together. Everyone had something to bring to the table,” said 26-year-old Lim, who manages business development. Currently, a marketing manager at YouTrip, a multi-currency travel wallet, Lim has also co-founded projects like Coworking Singapore and Workwander, a mobile application for on-demand booking of workspaces.

Among all his various work and business commitments, 21 Moonstone affords him the most fun, said Lim. “Running a business with your friends is like having a house party all the time. We built everything, and run the place on our own. Though it may be challenging, it’s worth it,” said Lim.

From book launches to weddings, 21 Moonstone has seen people from different walks of life, both good and bad, said Tan. She recounted singlehandedly carrying 14 kilograms of ice for an event and even having to buy cigarettes for a difficult customer.

Still, the good outweighs the bad.

“As a creative, it’s a very individual journey sometimes, but you need a community,” she said.

“When people come with openness, a lot of [ideas] can be shared,” she added. “I learn from that, I give, and I receive a lot.”

“In this space, we can talk about life and friends, just like at a kopitiam.” 

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