Could you share a little bit of background of yourself?
On the personal level, I’m the youngest of six siblings with four elder sisters and one elder brother. I’ve been brought up in a family that is full of love and joy. On a professional level, I’m an interior designer with an MA credential, published author an interviewer, and also an illustrator.
What is your current and latest projects? What should we look out for?
I’m working on a domestic interior design scheme consultation project for a private client and engaged with my E-Design design service. I’m also finishing off my interior design book venture, so look out for the book this year!
Why and when did you decide to reside in UK? Any specific reasons?
I need to learn more about interior design, not only through practical experienced but through education and theory too, as simple as that.
Still, let me take you down memory lane a little. Following my diploma graduation in Malaysia, when I was 19 years old, I was involved in preparing a curtain design as a backdrop for a formal government conference. For one reason or another one part of the curtain wasn’t ready on time, to make things worse the Malaysian Prime Minister at that time (and now he is back in power again) was due to be sitting in front of that particular curtain drop! You could imagine how I felt to have to come up with a solution as soon as possible. What a drama it seemed at the time! It was eventually resolved, the team worked our magic! It was a good learning process for me.
Nevertheless, I always knew someday I will further my study… So, I decided to further my education in The United Kingdom. This is because Britain’s history means that its influence is felt around the world and its creative industries are world beating. You are free in whatever you do, to express yourself creatively.
I moved to the UK in September 1991 and continued my design studies all the way to the MA qualification. I had help from my father who provided the funding. I was also lucky to get endorsements from two of our local education sectors for different years/periods during my education which ended up as a full scholarship.
The other reasons were that my father travelled globally with his work and I’ve been inspired by his journeys abroad and his wonderful experiences. Two of my sisters have subsequently lived in the US and the UK. So, I said it’s my turn!
After I graduated from the University, I managed to get a job as an Interior Designer. While working full time I also managed to do some freelance interior design work. The rest is history.
What makes you decide on being an interior designer? Has it always been your dreams since you were young?
This is the story… I love beautiful things and love things to look in order! So, when I was 10 years old I started to love anything related to design but only when I was 14 years old the desire to become an interior designer was stronger. However, interior design was a third career option!
I wanted to become a veterinarian at first once upon a time! Simply because I love animals, my first pet was a duckling, actually lots of them. Because my father travels a lot for work and to further his education, I had to let go of my ducks due to having to relocate abroad. When we returned to Malaysia I found a new love of tropical fish and had a huge fish tank as a birthday gift. I enjoyed viewing the aquarium display at the vet/animal hospital and borrowed their ideas and transferred the display with my own touch into my aquarium. Following that, I wondered what other spaces I could transform.
The design ambition then took off then. At school, I chose subjects that are related to design. At home, I was always re-arrange the furniture of the house. My mother was usually thrilled with the transformation however sometimes it was not to her liking! And, finally of course the university qualifications.
As a local designer living abroad, it must be difficult to compete in a heavily saturated industry? How do you cope with this and succeed?
Design is a subjective subject… It may be difficult for some and easy for others. It is all about your work and experiences. I manage to deliver my work professionally to clients and to any organizations that I’m contracted with. Originality, good knowledge, and persistence is the key to succeed in this industry. Oh, also LUCK!
What would you say, your style is when it comes to interior design?
My style is fresh, warm, luxurious, and contemporary with an arty twist providing laid-back glamour with bespoke artwork and furnishings. I’m known for creating easy to live with modern schemes through my lively, playful, and sensual approach. I believe that with a little careful planning, design classics and budget can be combined to dazzling effect. In all my work there is a focus on statement styling. This styling makes use of colours, textures, and collectables as well as an awareness of good lighting that defines a space and creates different moods.
That being said, do you often incorporate Malaysian symbols or motifs into your design? If so, why?
For me, it is all about my clients’ design brief and budget. If they wish to have the ‘Malaysian’ look I will deliver that to them. I’m not a designer that will force a certain look into my clients’ home or business’. Still, I have my own style and I will inject my own touches into my design which came from my background, ethnically, experiences, and knowledge in the field. Each detail from the paint colours to products that have been proposed for the design will have a reason why they have been selected.
Could you tell us about “Donna Summer The Thrill Goes On - A Tribute” what inspires you to write this book?
My book started as a hobby in 1997, a compilation of data on the American star. As I accumulated more and more information I began to record it all on my laptop from January to July 1999. But it was only in late 2008 that I asked myself “I wonder what will happen if...” and that was it - ‘All Systems Go’!
The book is a special and personal tribute from me to the late Donna Summer. It is the first book produced in the UK about Donna Summer’s musical journey. The publication is especially aimed at readers who wish to know more about Summer’s music and for anybody that loves popular music, it provides a musical timeline for Donna Summer’s work. New fans will love it. Do you wonder what she was like in the studio and what she thought of the songs given to her? How her recordings came to production? What song is the most played on UK radio stations? What do experts think of Summer’s earlier European songs? This is all in the book. But if readers are looking for ‘gossip’ then this book is not for them. This publication is about her music, her ups and downs, and her many achievements. What made Donna Summer get to the top and stay there? Do you see her as just the ‘Queen Of Disco’ or did she have more to offer? I deliver all this to my readers. Frankly, you can’t satisfy every fanatical fan but, so far, the feedback has been great. And yes, the late Donna Summer was aware of the endeavor. The book was written before she passed away and I made the decision not to edit it – it remains as a tribute to her work, and she remains with us through her work. I’m thrilled that the paperback version was the winner for ‘The People’s Book Awards’ for October 2014 in the UK. In June 2018 the special 4th e-Book edition was released under my own label through Amazon worldwide.
What is your mission going forward? In terms of both interior design and writing? Will there be any interesting projects in the pipeline?
Everything! Research, observation, and learning from others are important as part of going forward. Such as a visit to different countries learning about their cultures, arts, designs, and architecture. Places that I have been such as museums, restaurants, clubs and boutique hotels, or even store visits give me a lot of ideas, thinking how the design works in that environment and through products that I have seen how I would develop a creative idea that will work for a project of similar brief. For my writing; reading design subjects and other topics of publications is crucial. There are various styles of writing and presentations that have been published for me to learn from. As for interesting projects… watch this space!
What do you think about interior design scene in Malaysia? What are your hopes for interior design industry in Malaysia? How can this industry progress in the future?
Malaysian designers can learn and observe a lot from other countries' creative developments. Because we are very open for that! But it is still a growing market.
However, I could not help noticing that some interior design work in Malaysia, mostly for residential developments, is simply copied, cut and pasted from other sources. I’m not saying Malaysia is bad, but it certainly needs more work and interior designers should be more confident and creative in showcasing themselves commercially and personally instead of just lifting it from some home magazines or design websites!
To progress in the industry is to be original and unique, to portray the country’s multi-cultural heritage and craftsmanship rather than just promote foreign styles. Use new technology yet embrace and preserve our existing historical architecture and interior design. Do not simply demolished or disregard something because it is old. Because some of these designs are unique and could be reused and relived in for another world to admire for many years to come.
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