Henry Yew
Deputy Managing Director, Index Design

Henry Yew of Index Design stands as a luminary, celebrated for his exceptional talent and innovative approach to home design. At the recent Singapore Interior Design Awards 2023 (SIDA 2023), his team — Rebecca Wong, Jennifer Boey and Jacey Leong — clinched an award for Best in Residential Design (Showflats) for the new Terra Hill development.

A collaborative effort with Hoi Hup Realty and Sunway Development, Terra Hill is a testament to Index Design’s ability to transform spaces beyond expectations. The expanded living room and purposeful dining area reflect a commitment to pushing boundaries in colour palettes and materials, creating a luxurious four-bedroom concept that resonates with the target buyers.

“As the largest show unit for this project, our clients sought a concept that exudes luxury with a distinctive ambience not commonly found in other developments. To achieve this, we delved into extensive research on the potential demographics of buyers for a unit of this size and location,” Yew shares. 

Yew’s design philosophy is rooted in adaptability and contextual understanding, steering clear of fixed styles. “Recognising the uniqueness of each project, we prioritise contextual understanding and client requirements,” he explains. On a personal level, he leans towards designing with “understated luxury and subtlety”, paying careful attention to finesse in the details. His philosophy transcends mere aesthetics, focusing on tailoring creativity to specific contexts, whether for showflats or private residential homes. Beyond accolades like the SIDA 2023 award, Yew places paramount importance on client satisfaction. He aspires to design homes that tell unique stories, co-writing the first chapter with his distinctive designs.

Effective communication and collaboration with clients are integral to Yew’s design process. He believes in meeting clients’ unique needs while adhering to budgets, ensuring a harmonious balance between aesthetics and expenses. In a current project in Orchard, he navigates a dynamic collaboration, blending his creative vision with the clients’ open-mindedness. Unique features like a writing desk inspired by Mentos candies showcase the team’s commitment to pushing creative boundaries.

Yew draws inspiration from curiosity and real-world exploration, emphasising the importance of experiencing spatial elements first-hand. “Simply being curious and constantly observing” is his approach. “I often just walk into random hotel lobbies when I travel to touch and understand details; examine materials. You can even spot me squatting down and touching the floor if I find it special — very often, at the same time already working out how to innovate, improve and implement [it] for future projects for my clients.”

He encourages young designers to seek inspiration beyond screens. “I feel curiosity is missing in the younger generation of designers, who often seek inspiration from their screens and websites such as Pinterest. They often do not see the need to be exposed to real world architecture and the interior design within it.”

Over the past 30 years in the industry, Yew has learned the importance of staying calm when challenges arise. A collaborative approach within the team ensures effective problem-solving and upholds the essence of teamwork. “We have a technical guru for detailing and construction methods, another director with over 20 years of experience in FF&E [furniture, fixtures, and equipment], and others with different expertise. This collaborative approach helps us find the best solutions for any challenges we encounter.”

Looking ahead, Yew is setting his sights on addressing the evolving needs of homeowners and their shrinking living spaces. “My team and I are continually researching and looking out for smart storage systems and ideas to address this issue, striving to maximise every inch of space in the house to meet the utilitarian requirement, concurrently with aesthetic exploration.”

Yew’s venture into Malaysia marks an exciting chapter in his career. With an overseas office in Kuala Lumpur, he is immersed in designing a hotel project in the capital and actively pitching for others. The prospect of creating distinctive works in Malaysia showcases his relentless passion for growth and exploration in the ever-evolving world of interior design.

Lon Koh
Design Director, Project Guru

Lon Koh, design director of Project Guru, recently clinched SIDA’s Young Designer of the Year award for his transformative work on Nanyang Flair, a two-storey residence transformed into a modern Peranakan haven.

His captivating design breathes new life into the classic Peranakan style, seamlessly blending traditional elements with daring hues to honour Singaporean culture’s dynamic spirit.

The interplay of dark wood, vibrant colours, curved arches, and modern walls creates a space that respects its heritage while embracing contemporary sensibilities. The result is a timeless and cutting-edge interior where each room becomes a canvas, and each curve narrates a story of history and modernity.

In an exclusive interview following his triumph, Koh shared insights into his design ideologies, revealing a philosophy that places people at the heart of his creations. His award, he believes, is not merely a personal triumph but a collective recognition of the tireless efforts poured into each project. “This acknowledgment will serve as an encouragement and motivation for us to continue working towards achieving greater success,” he reflects.

For him, the inspiration to become an interior designer stemmed from a profound love for design, coupled with the encouragement of mentors and the priceless satisfaction derived from completed projects. His journey continues, marked by a commitment to transforming spaces into tapestries of elegance and history, weaving narratives that transcend the boundaries of mere architecture.

He believes that a well-designed home should mirror the personalities of its occupants. His approach hinges on understanding the lifestyle and values of the inhabitants, putting people first before the design theme. 

“A home is not just a basic physiological need for shelter; it is also a place where we live, work, play, and interact with other family members,” he says.

“If we can improve all aspects of our activities in the house, personal enjoyment can be maximised. Therefore, this makes the entire renovation process a worthwhile exercise.”

Reflecting on a decade in the interior design industry, Koh pointed out that every project is unique and transformative. His passion has grown with each completed endeavour, each home representing a dream turned into reality. His commitment to client satisfaction is underscored by his belief in a dynamic team of designers. He sees this as a value proposition, making their collaborative efforts stronger and more effective.

In contemplating the future of interior design, Koh embraces technology but underscores the importance of the human touch. “While we embrace AI and technology evolution, we cannot rule out the fact that it is still a people business,” he says. Expressing his desire to promote empathy and empowerment in design, Koh envisions a future where human emotions remain crucial.

Jason Lee
Principal Architect, Absolute X

In the competitive world of design, Jason Lee excels both as a principal architect and interior designer. His recent accolades include winning SIDA’s Best Young Designer of the Year and gold award for Best Residential Concept Design for his Moving Wall Concept. 

For Lee, winning awards signifies recognition of his firm’s commitment to creative and innovative design, constantly redefining architectural and interior design boundaries. 

“Pushing boundaries by focusing on adaptive and flexible spaces epitomises our vision for dynamic spatial design. It revolutionises traditional design such as static furniture and fixed spaces by integrating mobile and plug-and-play furniture,” he says.

“As an architect, the focus was on crafting spaces that seamlessly integrate architecture and adaptable interiors. The concept reimagined how structures and interiors interact, promoting flexible layouts and innovative furniture that respond to evolving user needs, allowing seamless spatial transformations to suit various lifestyles and life stages.”

Lee’s passion for “transforming spaces and lives by creating environments that are functional” is what inspired him to pursue a career in design. In his work, he prioritises functionality, adaptability and sustainability. “Our designs typically prioritise versatility, allowing spaces to evolve effortlessly while minimising the need for extensive renovations, thus promoting a more sustainable and cost-effective approach.”

Although he avoids a fixed signature style, nature serves as an inspiration for a lot of his work. “I do like to incorporate natural elements while using a neutral palette focusing on functionality to create spaces that are both elegant and practical. There is no point in having something that looks nice but does not work to fulfil the needs of the clients,” he shares.

What type of homes does Lee envision for the future? “We foresee a future where adaptability, sustainability, and technology integration will shape design trends. Architecture and interiors will seamlessly adapt to societal and environmental changes. We aspire to lead this evolution by integrating adaptable design principles into architectural landscapes, pioneering a more versatile and sustainable future.” 

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