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Interview with Cecil Oh: Insights from an Innovative Interior Designer

Step into the world of interior design with Cecil, the Design Director from The Makers Design Studio, where innovation meets functionality and sustainability. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for creating spaces that resonate with individuality, Cecil invites us to explore the art of crafting homes that reflect personality and purpose.


What inspired you to become an interior designer, and what continues to inspire you in your work today?

My journey into interior design began in 2010, fueled by a deep belief in the transformative power of home environments. Over the past 14 years, I've remained inspired by the notion that our homes serve as sanctuaries, offering solace after long days. The opportunity to directly impact people's lives through thoughtful design fuels my dedication to this craft. Crafting spaces that truly feel like "home" is not just a profession but a personal mission that continues to ignite my creativity.


How do you approach the design process, from ideation to execution, and what steps do you take to ensure your designs meet the unique needs of each client?

Our design journey begins with a thorough understanding of our client's vision and lifestyle. We start by analysing their home floor plan and crafting initial layouts to discuss during our first meeting. This collaborative approach allows us to refine ideas and make real-time adjustments, ensuring alignment with the client's requirements. Drawing from our extensive portfolio and design inspirations, we guide our clients through the creative process, presenting them with tangible examples to visualise the end result. By prioritising open communication and client collaboration, we ensure that each project reflects not only our expertise but also the individuality of the homeowner, resulting in spaces that surpass expectations and stand the test of time.


What is your philosophy when it comes to designing interior spaces, and how do you balance aesthetic appeal with practical functionality?

In my approach to interior design, I firmly believe that both form and function are paramount. During consultations with homeowners, I meticulously balance these elements by presenting a range of ideas and inspirations tailored to each unique circumstance. Additionally, I stay abreast of the latest technological advancements, which empower me to creatively address new challenges that may arise. By seamlessly integrating aesthetic appeal with practical functionality, I ensure that every space I design not only looks stunning but also serves its intended purpose flawlessly.


How do you stay up to date with the latest design trends and techniques, and how do you incorporate these into your work while maintaining your own unique style?

I keep myself informed about the latest design trends and techniques by actively engaging with various social media outlets. Additionally, I continuously seek insights from suppliers and contractors to discover the most effective approaches for tackling different scenarios. By asking questions and challenging conventional execution styles, I ensure that my designs remain fresh and innovative. However, I always reflect on past projects to stay true to my design principles and maintain my own unique style.

 

What is your favourite project that you've worked on, and what made it so special to you?

My favourite project that I've completed is my own home! It holds a special place in my heart because it encapsulates versatility in every aspect. This project allowed me to integrate all of my previous experiences into a single home. From incorporating ample storage space and creating a kid- and pet-friendly environment to designing areas for hosting while maintaining a spacious and luxurious feel, it was a culmination of innovative design solutions. By reimagining the layout and demolishing existing walls, we crafted a unique space tailored to make it a truly rewarding and memorable project for me.


How do you collaborate with other professionals, such as consultants or contractors, to ensure a seamless design and construction process? 

Collaboration with other professionals is key to ensuring a seamless design and construction process. Firstly, we establish a detailed schedule in consultation with our contractors and homeowners to determine the most suitable times for each phase of the project, minimising downtime. Regular site visits allow us to monitor progress closely, and we document this with photographs. This not only helps track the project's evolution but also ensures that the proposed design is accurately executed. Furthermore, maintaining open lines of communication with our contractors throughout the project allows for any issues to be promptly addressed, ensuring that the final result meets the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship.


Does your work allow you to practice sustainability, and if so, how do you incorporate sustainability and eco-friendliness into your designs, and why is this important to you and/or your firm?

My approach to design places a strong emphasis on sustainability. I integrate eco-friendly practices by opting for durable materials, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Before selecting materials, I collaborate with suppliers to ensure their eco-friendliness. This commitment to sustainability is driven by my recognition of Singapore's limited space and the significance of every effort in fostering a greener environment. By incorporating sustainable principles into my work, I aim to contribute to the broader goal of making Singapore a more environmentally friendly and sustainable city.


How do you handle challenges that arise during the design process, such as unexpected setbacks or client requests that may conflict with your vision?

Handling challenges, including setbacks and conflicting client requests, is a common occurrence in our line of work. However, I approach them head-on by providing prompt solutions and compromises while ensuring clear communication throughout the process. I firmly believe in the principle that "mitigation is better than cause," meaning that proactive planning and anticipating potential challenges are essential for achieving a smooth and seamless renovation. By adopting this proactive approach, I strive to address issues swiftly and effectively, maintaining the integrity of the design vision while meeting the client's needs and expectations.


What advice would you give to aspiring interior designers/architects, and how can they develop their own unique style and approach to the field?

My advice to aspiring interior designers and architects is to prioritise experiential learning and proactive planning. By gaining hands-on experience, you'll develop a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in the field. Additionally, proactively planning and anticipating potential problems will equip you with the skills needed to navigate them effectively. When it comes to developing your own unique style, remember that everyone has their own distinctive flair and approach. Take the time to reflect on your strengths, preferences, and inspirations to refine your personal style. Ultimately, it's about honing what resonates most with you and sets you apart from others in the field.


What do you hope to achieve in your career as an interior designer/architect, and what are some of the long-term goals you have for your work?

In my career as an interior designer, my primary goal is to consistently deliver my best for each homeowner, ensuring that every home reflects their unique vision and leaves them fully satisfied upon project completion. Looking ahead, my long-term goals revolve around continuous learning and growth. I aspire to expand my knowledge and expertise in various execution methods, enabling me to provide tailored solutions for every homeowner's needs. By prioritising ongoing development and innovation, I aim to maintain high levels of client satisfaction and further establish myself as a trusted and reputable professional in the industry.


Any inspiring words you have for other designers or homeowners?

To Designers:

Success in design isn't just about how hard you work, but about what you achieve. Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, and continually strive to improve. Remember, your journey is a process of evolution, and each mistake is a chance to refine your craft and reach new heights.

To Homeowners:

We're here to support you every step of the way. Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have. Our commitment is to ensure your vision for your home becomes a reality, and we're dedicated to providing the guidance and expertise needed to make that happen.


As we conclude our time with Cecil, we're reminded of the power of creativity and dedication in shaping the spaces we inhabit. Whether you're a designer seeking inspiration or a homeowner embarking on a renovation journey, Cecil's insights serve as a guiding light, encouraging us all to strive for excellence and authenticity in every project we undertake. Thank you for inspiring us and congratulations on becoming our DOTM! As Cecil aptly puts it, “we are known for reconfiguring spaces”, a testament to her innovative approach and commitment to crafting truly unique environments.



Posted on 7th June 2024


Written by Kelly Ong

SIXiDES Editorial Team


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