De­sign Speak

Singapore Tatler Homes - - APR/MAY ISSUE -

Nikki Hunt on Chi­nois­erie

Thomas Tham, de­sign prin­ci­pal of multi-award win­ning firm White Cor­po­rate, be­lieves that ev­ery sus­tain­able de­sign starts with a time­less idea and ends with a hap­pier world

Us­ing up­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als has been cited as a de­sign trend for 2015. What are your views on such sus­tain­able de­signs?

While I am not a blind fol­lower of trends, sus­tain­abil­ity in de­signs is some­thing I em­brace. All sus­tain­able de­signs start with the fo­cus of cre­at­ing things that will never go out of style. De­sign­ers also play a vi­tal role in ed­u­cat­ing home­own­ers about the green op­tions avail­able, whether it’s eco-friendly ma­te­rial or pre­serv­ing cer­tain el­e­ments of an ex­ist­ing home, so they can make more in­formed, earth-friendly choices.

De­scribe your de­sign phi­los­o­phy.

My de­signs evolve from hu­man in­ter­ac­tion within a space. The ob­jec­tive is to turn an empty room into a space with soul, some­thing that rep­re­sents the owner. I treat each in­te­ri­ors project as a sig­na­ture piece where re­search, specif­i­cally about the home­owner’s needs, back­ground and taste, is para­mount. I also like the idea of “de­sign never ends”. By that, I mean that com­pleted de­signs should be re­viewed, cri­tiqued, re­fined and im­proved. That dia­logue in­spires the re­birth of the new de­sign. At the same time, the owner gets a very strong sense of a time­less de­sign they will still like five or 10 years down the road.

Do you have any rules when you work?

De­sign is by na­ture a cre­ative field so at the ini­tial stage of the process, we let our imag­i­na­tion go free. It’s dur­ing that state that some of the best ideas emerge but the chal­lenge—and this is where the truly cre­ative stand out—is to try to make those great ideas work within lim­i­ta­tion.

Do you see a dif­fer­ence in the way peo­ple in­vest in their homes 15 years ago and to­day?

Back then, many luxury home­own­ers did not have as much de­sign knowl­edge, so they tended to spend with­out re­ally know­ing what they were spend­ing on or leave the de­sign team to see through the project. To­day’s luxury home­owner is well trav­elled and ex­posed to de­sign ideas from all over the world. Even though they are busy, they want to have a hand in designing their home. We like that. It’s an op­por­tu­nity to build rap­port and trust, to re­ally un­der­stand the client’s taste, and in that on­go­ing dia­logue and ideas can flow.

You’ve said that good de­sign makes the world happy. Ex­plain what this means.

A good de­sign func­tions prac­ti­cally and aes­thet­i­cally. A good home de­sign should ap­pre­ci­ate in value over time. My great­est ful­fill­ment would be to see one of my de­signs pre­served and passed to the next gen­er­a­tion. That makes me happy and the home­own­ers are happy.

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