Interview with Kelvin Cai: Making homes that tell the story of you

You thought about it. Then thought about it again. And again. You can’t quite get rid of the bothersome feeling that something’s missing… missing a little bit of you. Then you should book an appointment with Kelvin, a professional small details expert on making places feel like… you.

Director and founder of The Local Project, he and his team have been around the block for two years. Highly experienced, he’s sensitive to the needs of the owner and ensures that, in every job, he’s mindful of making homeowners' homes distinctively their own and not designed like cookie-cutter ones.

To learn more about what makes Kelvin tick, we kidnapped him (temporarily!) for an interview.



Who are you and what’s your position in The Local Project?


I am the founder as well as the director of the, The Local Project.

I oversee every running project and day to day operations.


Every artist has their humble beginnings. What was yours? What got you into interior design? Who is or was your inspiration in interior design?


I have always been drawn to designing and art since young.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enrol into an art school as my family couldn’t support the school fees financially.


Did you always know that you were going into interior design?


Not at all! In fact, I studied IT engineering.



So what happened after that?


I was actively looking for a job to financially support myself once I completed NS and that’s when I came across a lucrative job where you could earn up to $8000 a month at an interior design firm.


That was quite the promise! Did you get the job AND that salary?


Definitely, but I only managed to earn $800 per month instead of the lucrative deal which was posted. (Laughs)




How did you feel about that?


Well, it wasn’t a problem for me back then as I was inexperienced.

This job opportunity was a big learning curve for me as I was required to physically be on site every day. That allowed me to build a rapport with the contractors as well as subcontractors. This made it easy for me to ask them a lot of things that I was unsure about and curious about. I definitely learned a lot right from them.


How did you transition from being employed to being an employer? What was the drive?


It was the passion I’ve always had for designing and art. (Laughs)

Being able to follow my dreams and starting entrepreneurship is super exciting for me as I can shape my company to be something I’ll be proud of. I may even pass my legacy on to my children someday.


Starting a business is a big step. Was there any hesitation?


Not at all as I always knew what I wanted.


What was your first ID job? What was it like?


The first was a really memorable bedroom makeover at Mei Hwan terrace. The owner was a pink lover and this was a makeover to turn her entire bedroom into pink. The bed, Study table, and display cabinet were customized to pink. (Laughs)


How about the most influential job – one that changed how you do things?


It was to manage an architect’s home renovation where the design and drawings were done by the owner himself.

The entire renovation process was extremely tedious as every little detail including tile placement had to be exact. From this, I’ve learned that no details are too small and this also taught me to be meticulous and detailed orientated to this day.



Every artist has their proudest work. What would you say yours is?


I always give my best creativity to fit each and every homeowner’s requirement as well as their budget. Therefore, every house which I’ve designed is my proudest achievement.


Kinda like asking you to pick your favourite child?


(Laughs) Exactly that.


What guides your work? What would you say your design philosophy is?


“Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love, brought together under one roof.” That’s a quote from Nate Berkus that I carry with me all the time. That’s why I always ask my clients about their lifestyle, about family preferences, and their hobbies, and try to integrate all that into their home design.


How do you conceptualise your design ideas?


I insist on being on-site to feel the space out. When I’m on site, I’d close my eyes to visualise everything around the house, thinking of how the space should look like.

It works for me every time.

What is one advice you’d like to give up and coming interior designers?


Treat every house as your masterpiece. Focus on both the little details and big picture to craft cohesive spaces.

Posted on 26 August 2022


Kenny Tan, 

SIXiDES Editorial Team


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