Tatler Design Awards 2021: 3 Emerging Singapore Design Firms to Watch
The ascendance of young designers and architects is a multifaceted endeavour that combines a keen eye for detail with hard work and sheer grit. Backed by years of experience, these enterprising designers are now taking charge of their own studios, while being firmly grounded in the principles that they espouse.
Sponsored by local laminate brand Arova, the new Designers on the Rise category of the Tatler Design Awards 2021 shines the spotlight on three young firms and the promising talents that lead these practices. These rising stars will also create sculptures inspired by their creative ethos for the new Arova showroom, slated to open in April.
(Related: Tatler Design Awards 2021: Introducing The Jury Panel)
The ability to find joie de vivre in every project—that’s the exuberant philosophy that Sean Hafiz embraces. “I find joy in designing for clients and making sure that they have a very enjoyable home to live in,” says the principal designer of ArchLuxe.
Although he initially did not plan to become an interior designer, he gradually fell in love with the discipline during his studies at Temasek Polytechnic. In the past six years of his career, Sean has crafted many luxurious homes around the city; he’s known for sumptuously tactile interiors that combine the bold use of colour with rich details.
“As a designer, you shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting; I love blending all the colours and textures together to make it work,” says Sean.
(Related: Home Tour: An Apartment By ArchLuxe That Pairs Feng Shui Elements With Futuristic Details Inspired By Science Fiction)
In December last year, ArchLuxe was established as a sister firm to Mr Shopper Studio, with Sean tasked to lead the team. The firm’s name is a portmanteau of the words “arch” and “luxury”, referencing the graceful curved structure of entryways in luxurious homes.
“Together with the directors Ken Lee and Kate Deng, we came up with an idea to launch a luxury brand, when we realised we needed a separate team to handle the more bespoke requests from homeowners,” says Sean. “We work with good furniture makers, fabricators and smart home systems to cater specially to these clients.”Ultimately, the firm aims to grow its footprint in Southeast Asia; the studio is looking to work on projects in Malaysia as well. He quips: “We know renovation is never perfect; we’re always there to make sure we can fix anything that happens.”
(Related: Home Tour: This Stylish Apartment Combines Pastels With Playful Accents)
“I am an advocate of natural materials—the spectrum of tone variations found in these materials is fascinating and timeless,” says Diong Fuhan, founder of Quod Architects. “As a design practice, we are very user-centric. We tend to draw inspiration from the client’s brief and the user requirements, and create a bespoke concept based on their unique stories and requirements.”
After completing her Masters in Architecture at the National University of Singapore, Diong work at an architecture firm for seven years before striking out to start her own studio in 2018, believing that the quality of her work would ultimately speak for itself. She also runs QED Design, which focuses on interior design; the firm takes its name from the latin phrase “quod erat demonstrandum” (QED), usually used at the end of a mathematical proof to signify that the problem is solved.
“I believe every style can be pleasing, but it takes a thoughtful and skilful designer to add contemporary touches and details that elevate the spatial experience,” says the architect. “I have always been passionate about the intersection of architecture and interior design, and how the two disciplines can come together to create a holistic experience for users. It is my vision and hope that Quod Architects and QED Design will go regional, and work on commercial and hospitality projects in Asia.”
(Related: Home Tour: A Chic Apartment With Monochromatic Spaces And Industrial Details)
For Sujono Lim and Molina Hun—founders of homegrown design practice Sujonohun—The View at Kismis show units they designed in 2018 remains their most memorable project to date. They’ve since crafted a new sales gallery and showflat for the same development, completed at the start of this year.
“Being a young company, the client took a chance on our proposal,” says Lim. “In turn, we envisioned a thematic approach that would align with the developer’s marketing strategy as well as the property’s architecture and landscaping; we are still collaborating with the developer to this day.”
Indeed, the husband-and-wife duo have come a long way since establishing their company in 2015. With a steady increase in projects over the past five years, Sujonohun has grown from a team of two to a group of six designers in Singapore. The practice is also supported by an additional seven designers and architects based in the region. This growth has sparked the launch of Parenthesis in 2018, an affiliated design firm that the duo says focuses on “providing fresh ideas that can be broader and more experimental”.
Even with the expansion of Parenthesis, functionality still serves as the modus operandi for the duo. “We’d like to create something that is long-lasting,” says Lim. “Good design realises the potential of the space. We believe that design is essentially problem-solving with aesthetics. Each project may not call for the same approach or formula, but at the end of the day, there should be an ideal solution for that specific project and context.”
(Related: Home Tour: A Colourful House With An Elegant Mix of Pink And Blue Rooms)