As the world’s 2nd largest Barbie doll collector, it’s no surprise that Jian Yang and his collection of over 12,000 Barbie dolls have risen to fame. And while there’s no shortage of media coverage revolving around his extensive living room Barbie display, there’s much more to Jian Yang’s home than meets the eye.
From custom-built doll-height display shelves to 8-doll-deep storage cabinets, the Barbie collector brings us through the ins and outs of his 1,050sqft walkup terrace, specially designed to house his extensive Barbie doll collection.
Designing a home with his Barbie collection in mind
As of 2019, Jian Yang owned 12,000 Barbie dolls, with the BBC estimating the entire collection to be worth S$500,000.
“With a large collection of anything, there’s always a danger of your house looking like the inside of a closet,” Jian Yang tells us. When styling his home, Jian Yang’s brief for his interior designer was simple; to create a comfortable and practical living environment, while giving the collection the dignity of being seen, and easily accessed for play.
Every display section in the house was custom designed and built for the Barbie collection. Excluding standalone furniture, Jian Yang’s carpentry costs amounted to about $170,000 due to the sheer amount of storage he required.
Barbie display spans across 3 walls in his living room
Image credit: TheSmartLocal
Behold the star of the show – the living room Barbie display, which spans across 3 entire walls. While Jian Yang had barbie-height display shelves built into 2 of the walls, he tells us that the third wall was actually a bare white wall when he moved in 12 years ago.
However, once Jian Yang’s collection expanded and he ran out of space to store his dolls, the undecorated surface served as the perfect canvas to create a Barbie box feature wall.
“I stacked the boxed dolls myself, but they’re quite sturdy because I used an interlocking method. My name is Jian which means ‘build’ in Chinese, so that has to count for something, right?” he jokes.
Jian Yang’s ID envisioned the house to be completely unembellished apart from the doll collection, reasoning that any other design feature would detract from the dolls – or worse, fight with them for attention.
That being said, both the Barbie enthusiast and his ID agreed on making one aspect of the home stand out, and decided to custom paint the epoxy floor in the shade Pantone 219C – Barbie’s official colour.
Jian Yang’s shoe display cabinet.
Miniature Barbie shoes.
Additionally, Jian Yang makes use of a small nook in the corner of his living room to create a personal shoe display cabinet. He proudly shows us the 2 full-height shoe shelves, neatly lined with an impressive array of his own sneakers and accompanied by a selection of miniature shoes specially crafted for his beloved Barbie dolls.
9 full-height storage closets along the walk-in wardrobe and study
Anyone who assumes the Barbie extravaganza ends in the living room is sorely mistaken. In addition to the living room display, 9 full-height mirrored closets stretch all the way from Jian Yang’s study room to his walk-in wardrobe area.
With each closet shelf being 6-8 dolls deep, there’s plenty of room for Jian Yang to store the more precious dolls in his collection. Every Barbie is carefully preserved and easily accessible, allowing Jian Yang to rotate his collection and keep the magic alive in his Barbie paradise.
The study room also features a set of 4 Barbie-inspired paintings, done by Jian Yang.
B&W bedroom – the only Barbie-free zone
Black and white artwork hand-painted by Jian Yang.
Although his black and white bedroom remains a strictly Barbie-free zone, Jian Yang admits that the colour scheme was inspired by Barbie’s original 1959 swimsuit outfit.
Barbie’s original 1959 black and white striped swimsuit outfit.
“As much as I love the brand, there have to be areas of visual reprieve,” he says, explaining that the bedroom interior is a silent nod to the 1959 swimsuit outfit, without being overtly Barbie-themed.
Rubber duck collection & mermaid Barbie in the bathroom
While Jian Yang’s 12,000 dolls are his claim to fame, the Barbie fanatic is no stranger to collecting other items as well – such as rubber ducks.
“I’ve always liked rubber duckies and would occasionally buy a couple from flea markets. By the time I bought my house at 32, I had quite a collection. The bathroom is designed to be quite a calm space, but I wanted a visual shock element, which is why we created a wall of rubber duckies which is only visible from the toilet bowl,” Jian Yang says.
The sole Barbie in the bathroom is a majestic mermaid doll displayed above the toilet bowl, with arching wings, green hair, a cascading turquoise gown reminiscent of a sparkling sea.
Inside the home of the world’s 2nd largest Barbie collector
Image credit: TheSmartLocal
Even with his vast Barbie collection, Jian Yang is careful not to make his home an overstatement. “I think if done wrong, the house of a collector can look like a flea market, because we would buy anything from posters to vintage telephones to MRT cards, and the visual noise can get out of hand.”
On top of Barbie dolls, Jian Yang owns a substantial collection of 80s boy’s toys such as He-Man, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Polly Pocket, and Star Wars toys. He also has roughly 500 Transformers, which he keeps at his office within a much-hyped conference room.
Glass display window built within Jian Yang’s stairway wall, showcasing Wizard of Oz dolls.
For budding collectors looking to design a collector-friendly home, Jian Yang advises against showcasing everything simultaneously. “Don’t give in to the temptation of displaying everything at once. I did that at the beginning, before realising that one of the things that I enjoy most is rotating the collection, and being able to see different things at different times,” he says.
Don’t miss out on these other collectors’ homes:
- Insane Harry Potter-themed room with over 300 collectibles
- 3-room BTO was turned into a mini Legoland for under $70k
- Disney & Peanuts-inspired BTO home
Cover image adapted from: Uchify
Photography by Alvin Wong.