Victor Ng, the director of interior design firm Elements ID, discusses the importance of ambience, space-planning as well as the design philosophy that informs his projects
How would you describe your design philosophy?
I aim to craft luxurious and timeless interiors that will stand the test of time. Bearing in mind that most homeowners will reside in their abode for at least seven to 10 years, my team and I want to create a look that stays fresh yet doesn’t become dated easily. Design shouldn’t be too distracting. We also try to avoid using trendy pieces, as trends come and go quickly. The Balinese style was trending 10 to 15 years ago; today, cafe-style interiors and the Scandichic look are very popular among younger clients. Rather than go all out with these popular themes, my approach is to keep the interior modern and pair it with accents from these trends.
Which aspects of interior design speak to you the most?
I place great importance on spaceplanning and ambience. The layout should be the first thing we work on—to minimise wastage of space. Some architects may only consider the facade without thinking about the interior. Engage an interior designer to work together with the architect from the start, to avoid the hassle of hacking walls, moving power points and other rectification work that may need to be done. You must also be able to feel the intended ambience in the end product. Ambience isn’t easy to achieve. You can’t just get a contractor, show him a few photos, and expect him to recreate that cohesive look and feel. From the space-planning to the careful selection of materials, colours, dimensions, furniture and lighting— everything needs to come together to create a coherent look and feel.
Which areas of the home tend to be poorly designed? How can these spaces be put to better use?
Some of the most neglected areas include the balcony, which becomes used as a laundry area or even a storage space. In fact, the balcony can become a seamless extension of the interior; turn it into an outdoor dining deck or a lounge area. In some large homes, the owners may include a guest room, which is hardly ever used. We’ll try to find alternative uses for such rooms, and suggest converting these spaces into an outdoor garden or a shower and steam room. For long corridors, we’ll include shelving, artworks and sculptures where possible to maximise the use of the space.
Which materials are more suitable for the local climate?
There are many high-quality replicas that look like real wood and stone, yet which are much easier to maintain in our climate. To me, synthetic materials are the future of flooring. Before starting on any project, we’ll explain the pros and cons of using synthetic materials versus natural wood. For instance, while real wood flooring needs to be varnished every year, the increasingly popular vinyl flooring is weather- and scratch-resistant.
What are some ways of bringing local flavour into your abode?
Artworks, antiques and sculptures are an easy way of adding Asianinspired design to your interiors while keeping the look timeless. We also work with a gallery, Ode to Art, to recommend and select pieces for clients. A tropical theme is another way of subtly adding a local touch to your home. This can be achieved with the use of wood while exploring various ways of bringing nature into your home.
Tell us more about your most recent project.
It involved designing the general areas of The Peak @ Cairnhill II,
FOR A FRESH YET MODERN LOOK, KEEP THE INTERIOR SIMPLE AND PAIR IT WITH ACCENTS BASED ON CURRENT TRENDS
which include the main lobby, gym and sky bar. In doing so, we stepped out of our role as interior designer a little and ventured into the architectural arena. We identified two underutilised common areas and turned them into functional, value-added spaces. We removed a very tall planter, merged the walkway and existing space, and used book-matched white marble for the flooring; this became a bright and inviting lobby area. We also added an outdoor gym, yoga garden and sky bar to the common areas on the 14th floor to make the most of the premium city views.
How has the industry changed since you started?
Technology has changed the way we present our concepts to our clients. Before long, we may be able to “walk” a client through the proposed interior design by using virtual reality. This will make it easier for clients to visualise and experience their dream space—and problems can be resolved before the actual work takes place.
LEFT TO RIGHT Victor Ng, director of Elements ID; this resortinspired home was named as the Best Luxury Concept at Singapore Tatler Homes’ A Celebration of Design 2017