Summerhaus D’zign

Summerhaus D’zign

The name Summerhaus D’zign may evoke visions of a design house specialising only in Californian villas with expansive landscapes and azure swimming pools, but that could not be further from the truth. Currently one of the leading interior design consultancies in the island nation of Singapore, the boutique interior design firm is wellknown in the region for offering highly customised solutions for each and every type of home, regardless of the size or location. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia speaks to Larry Lim and Jess Koh, the extraordinary husband and wife teamabout their success and how they started.

Much like most success stories, the idea of forming a noteworthy enterprise has not always been in the minds of the couple. Instead, it was a natural progression, the manifestation of long hours spent apart in offices working away for others and the thought of doing it for the rest of their lives. At that time Larry Lim had been an esteemed financial consultant, managing the personal accounts and investments of high net worth individuals in Singapore, with working experiencein various banks such as Citibank and The Bank of East Asia. Meanwhile, Jess Kohalready had a budding career in interior design, helping homeowners design and manage renovations of their new flats. However, both Larry and Jess grew tired of their monotonous life routines and they made the decision to ‘elope’.

“We reflected on what we wanted to achieve together in life and decided that we wanted to build a legacy for our children as well as give them a head start in life. With this as the core mutual reason, we decided that we should leverage on Jess’ expertise in offering design and project management solutions complemented by my experience in banking to bring a new perspective to the interior design business model,” explains Larry.

The couplehas since then taken to the entrepreneurial life exceptionally well. Not only is theirenterprise prominent in the region for immaculate bespoke design solutions that accommodate to specific, individual tastes of the clients, the firm is also renowned for the accolades amassed in the few years since its formation in 2012. Recently, SummerhausD’zign was awarded the Singapore Outstanding Enterprise award in December 2014, alongside some of the more established firms in the country. Besides that, a project executed by the firm is currently one of the nominees for the prestigious Italian A’Design Award, pending results’ announcement in April this year, with a gala night scheduled to be held at Como, Italy.

Such achievements are almost unattainable unless they have been precedented by hard work and perseverance, as it the case with Larry and Jess. “When we first started we didn’t have much portfolio to shout about and as a new start-up firm, clients who did not know us were wary of our stability as a company. We managed to overcome this through time and the relentless approach to excellent customer service. Service quality helped us greatly in building confidence and gain referrals from current clients. At the same time, we channelled a sizeable percentage of our revenues into marketing and branding. Through brand association and marketing with our media partner, Singapore Tatler Homes, we managed to position Summerhaus as a quality interior designer for private houses,” shares Larry.

Besides branding and building a concrete rapport with theirclientèle, the couple is also aware of the importance of distinguishing the brand and the company from many other players in the interior design industry. Focusing on their tagline of ‘Bespoke solutions creating Novelty designs’, the couple prioritises customisation to the last thread and involves the client in the entire design process, unlike many other firms in the business. Once a design proposal has been drafted, it is then scrutinised together by both parties to make changes to suit the clients’ tastes. Apart from being encouraged to specify in detail all of their needs, the client is also requested to select the materials that they like for their home themselves. The firm would then present the different materials on the same design through 3D visuals for further mixing and matching before ultimately achieving what truly is to the client’s liking. It is a process that may seem tedious to many, however, it is what clearly sets the firm way ahead of its competitors.

What advice would the duo give to the next generation of interior designers? “Understand that design is fluid and keep your minds open. Nothing is exceptionally beautiful yet nothing is hideous, it simply depends on which hat you are wearing. Do not be obstinate about your own ideals, thus remaining stagnant,” says the couple. Larry and Jess plan to take on many more regional interior design consultancy projects and create a unit specifically catering to commercial interior designs in the next 5 years.

Issue 8/2014

Architects 61 Sdn Bhd

Architects 61 Sdn Bhd

In yesteryears, apartments or business towers in Asia are indistinguishable from one another. Today, however, architects are pushing boundaries and leading the way towards a contemporary and innovative design for high-rise buildings and Architects 61 Sdn Bhd is well ahead of the pack. In a recent interview with Top 10 of Asia, Jeffrey Ling, the Managing Directorof Architects 61 Sdn Bhd talks about the firm’s achievements and its unending drive for excellence.

Architects 61 Sdn Bhd was established in 1995 by Jeffrey Ling and remains one of the most established corporate architectural practices in Malaysia. Over the past 19 years, the firm has won numerousawards including the FIABCI Malaysia Property Award 2007, 2010 and 2011, BCI Asia Top Ten Architects in Malaysia Awards 2010 and Futurarc Green Leadership Award 2011.

Responsible for completing projects with greatest aggregate value and producing some of the nation’s most eco-friendly buildings, Architects 61 has done extensive work to transform theKlang Valley and Penangskyline.Its extensive and versatile portfolioincludes projects such as Ritz Carlton Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Stonor Park in Kuala Lumpur, SpringtideResidences in Penang and Wisma Shell in Cyberjaya. Its core competencies revolve around commercial, residential, offices, factories, and places of worship witha growing list international projects in the past decade that includeintegrated transportation city in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and an electronic factory in Shanghai, China. Current works in progress include i-City, a high profile development that is set to be an integrated intelligent city that consists of residential, corporate and leisure elements.Thefirm with a 40-strong workforce has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and is associated tothe regional architectural practise of Architects 61 Pte Ltd, one of the ‘Big Three’ architecture firms in Singapore that was founded in 1974.

“We are a strong proponent of environmentally sustainable and climate responsive design, and not only are we ISO 14001 certified, we are also one of the first firms to be registered with the US Green Building Council and is a member of Malaysia’s Green Building Index (GBI),” says Jeffrey. The firm’s project Wisma Shell at Cyberjayawas awardedthe first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design) Gold (core and shell) building in the country.

Architects 61 practises leadership by example, engages the staff regularly and directly, and conducts constant management reviews to elevate the quality of their service and work through innovation, technology and creativity. The firm is also one of the pioneers to harness the power of technology by way of BIM (Building Information Modelling) and PIM (Project Information Management) to further enhance productivity and efficiency. “We are constantly reinventing ourselves to stay competitive and be a few steps ahead in every part of our work process from design to delivery of products in our quest to create meaningful spaces for people,” says Jeffrey. Its ability to adapt to the fast-changing market situation and identifying opportunities to sub-specialize has made Architects 61 a formidable niche player in the industry and poised to be among the world’s top architecture firms.]

Issue 8/2014

Shining Bright

Shining Bright

It is widely known that success comes with a price. One young and enterprising entrepreneur in Malaysia has not only paid the price for his success but has, through sheer determination, taken hold of that which many seasoned entrepreneurs have yet to achieve. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia speaks to Dato’ Calvin Khiu Fu Siang, Founder and CEO of MK Curtain Group of Companies, and one who knows exactly what trials and tribulations are all about.

Born into poverty in the small town of Bukit Gambir located in the southern state of Johor of Peninsular Malaysia, Dato’ Calvin Khiu is no stranger to hardships and challenges in life. At the age of 12, Calvin learned to be independent and responsible – taking several part time jobs and running various errands. He got his first full time job at the age of 18 after graduating from school as a curtain sales person in a local textile store. In due time, he learned the ropes of the trade and then took a confident leap to start his own business in 2005, thus establishing the MK Curtain Group (MK) with the help and support of his wife, Datin Moon Sze Fui.

Since its establishment, MK Curtain Group, consisting of M.Kaye Premium, MK Curtain and MK Textile,has opened 25 branches across the country. After having made its mark as the leader in fashion curtains, MK is now venturing into other products such as bed sheets, wallpapers, cushions, carpets and home decorations. On top of that, MK is strengthening itself in the manufacturing sector. It is establishing a new 99,000 square-foot ‘Home Décor Retail’ based on the ‘Door-to-Door Service’ concept and is envisaged to be the largest curtain showroom in Southeast Asia.

“As long as you’re going to be thinking, why not think big? I always challenge myself to strive and improve myself and the company. What will you choose – to put your nose to the grind now or to do it later in your life? I choose the former now as I would rather enjoy the sweet taste of success later on,” says Calvin who is not one to rest on his laurels. He will soon be launching the company’s first handbag product under the brand, Chairlarry, which is made out of pure cotton canvas with nanotechnology. Well, being the dynamic and ambitious entrepreneur that he is, Calvin certainly lacks no creativity in coming up with innovative ideas to establish new frontiers.

MK has three missions that it upholds – to nurture young wealth creators; to introduce NILAI 3 (one of the largest wholesale centres in Malaysia located in the state of Negeri Sembilan) to the world; and, to provide support and assistance for interested employees to begin a career in business. As peculiar as it is, Calvin believes that it is literally true that one can only succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.

“I treat everyone here at MK as family members. When I introduced the profit-sharing concept to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in the MK team, it ultimately helped the company’s performance and increased the growth significantly. When you are willing to give your heart to your employees, your employees will do the same for you too,” says Calvin with an unmistakable sense of gratitude.

Issue 9/2015