50 Most Influential in Singapore Design 2015: Beacons of Inspiration
The nation's design scene has come a long way since its independence 50 years ago. Singapore Tatler Homes honours the men and women who paved the way and continue to push beyond the boundaries of excellence in interior, architecture and product design.
Singapore's design sector has grown to become a force to be reckoned with, within the international scene. In honour of our outstanding homegrown and locally-based talents, we pick 50 award-winning designers and recognise them as our 'Beacons of Inspiration', 'The Headliners' and 'The Noteworthy'. We start with our 'Beacons of Inspiration', trailblazers whose achievements have made an impact on the local design landscape.
Chan Soo Khian
Based in Singapore, Chan studied architecture at Washington University and Yale University. He began his career at Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) in New York. Chan set up SCDA in 1995, bringing his expertise acquired at KPF and his interest in the Southeast Asian vernacular design to his practice here. A recipient of numerous awards, including the President’s Design Award 2006 (Designer of the Year), SIA-Getz Architecture Prize for Emergent Architecture in Asia and two RIBA International Awards, Chan Soo Khian is a mastermind behind the National Design Centre – the new design hub in Singapore - and SkyTerrace @ Dawson.
As COO of one of Singapore’s pioneer lighting companies, Nana Au-Chua leads Million Lighting in setting benchmarks in innovative lighting solutions for architects, engineers and interior designers. Having worked as a banker before joining Million Lighting in 1999, she is responsible for developing the business in Singapore and the region and for identifying emerging trends in the lighting design industry. Under the leadership of Chua and her family, Million Lighting has become the preferred company for customised lighting solutions for clients like the Amara Sanctuary Resort, Singapore, Gardens by the Bay and Iluma shopping complex.
Richard K F Ho
Ho is founder of his eponymous architecture firm and an adjunct associate professor in the Honours and Masters degree courses in the Department of Architecture at NUS. He has won numerous prizes for his work, including six SIA Design Awards and five Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Awards, as well as the President’s Design Award 2013 (Designer of the Year).
Belinda Huang & Khoo Peng Beng
Arc Studio Architecture + Urbanism
Khoo (right) and Huang (left) founded Arc Studio Architecture + Urbanism in 1999. They won acclaim for their winning entry to the Duxton Plain Public Housing Design Competition in 2001. After their design of the Pinnacle@Duxton, the husband-and-wife team went on to design residential projects, including L’viv in Singapore.
Koh Seow Chuan
A key founder of Design Partnership in 1967 (renamed DP Architects in 1975), Koh Seow Chuan has taken his firm from a homegrown practice to a leading multi-disciplinary architectural firm in Singapore and Asia. Koh worked on numerous landmark projects, including the People’s Park Complex and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, and is a Life Fellow at the Singapore Institute of Architects.
Founder of multi-disciplinary creative company Asylum in 1999, Lee is a prominent member of the Singapore’s design community and recipient of the President’s Design Award 2009 (Designer and Design of the Year). Lee served as a juror for many international creative awards, such as The One Show and Tokyo Directors Club. He is also a founding member and President of The Design Society.
Lim Choon Hong
Having spent the first few years of his career working at Abraxas and at Space Partnership, Lim Choon Hong started Xtra with three other partners in 1989. Since then, Xtra has evolved from a niche eclectic design store to a 20,000 sq ft flagship store in Park Mall and three other smaller showrooms. In 2014 the company celebrated its 25th anniversary marking a quarter century of history in the design scene of Singapore.
Ong Tze Boon
Having worked with Frank O. Gehry & Associates, Ong Tze Boon joined Ong&Ong as an architect in 1994 and became its chairman in 2007. As a chairman, Ong introduced a holistic design process encompassing urban planning, architecture, interior and landscape design - an approach now known as Ong&Ong’s 360º Solution. In 2015, he became the President of the Singapore Institute of Architects Council.
Tan Cheng Siong
Archurban Architects Planners
Tan Cheng Siong has been at the forefront of residential design in Singapore and China. He is the architect behind the design of Pearl Bank Apartments and a pioneer of the first condominium typology in Singapore in Pandan Valley. He is a Fellow (Life) member of the SIA and recipient of the President’s Design Award 2012 (Designer of the Year) and the 2013 SIA Gold Medal.
Tan is designer of the brand concept and identity of SG50 for Singapore’s Jubilee year. He is co-founder of Phunk – a modern design collective (1994) and Black – a multi-disciplinary creative agency (2002). Tan presented a showcase of Singapore’s best design talents, 20/20, at the London Design Festival 2006 and was awarded President’s Design Award 2007 (Designer of the Year).
Peter Tay Studio
Often referred to as the celebrity interior designer to the stars, Tay has designed interiors for celebrities, such as Zhang Ziyi and Zoe Tay. Peter Tay graduated from the Architectural Association in London in 2000 and started his own practice in 2001. In addition to working with popular icons, Tay’s portfolio also consists of high-profile residential and commercial projects, including boutiques and showrooms for Manolo Blahnik, and luxury showflats that include The Met in Bangkok and Martin 38 in Singapore. Tay won the President’s Design Award 2008 (Designer of the Year) and published his monograph in 2013. Recently, Tay also participated in the “Time-Space-Existence” exhibition at Palazzo Bembo at the Venice Biennale in 2014.
Tay Kheng Soon
Tay established Design Partnership in 1967 (renamed DP Architects in 1975) with William Lim and Koh Seow Chuan. He is the founder of Akitek Tenggara and was president of the SIA from 1991 to 1993, among many other posts. A recepient of the SIA Gold Medal in 2010, Tay’s book Mega-cities in the Tropics led to a development guide plan for a ‘Tropical City Concept’ here in Singapore.
GM of Macsk, Wee is well known for raising the bar in presentation of premium design brands. One of Wee’s biggest contributions to Singapore’s creative scene is the establishment of Space Furniture Singapore as the dominant purveyor of premium design furniture and accessories in Asean region and beyond, as well as the retrofit of three historic colonial buildings for Space Asia Hub’s showroom.
Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell
Founding directors of WOHA, Wong (left) and Hassell (right) changed the urban cityscape of Singapore since establishing their firm in 1994. The firm received eight President’s Design Awards, four World Building Awards and the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, among others. WOHA’s notable projects include SkyVille@Dawson and Parkroyal on Pickering.
Nathan Yong Design
Nathan Yong began his career as a buyer and product developer for various companies in Singapore. Yong won the Red Dot Concept Design Award in 2006 and 2007 and President’s Design Award (Designer of the Year) in 2008. Besides managing his industrial design consultancy practice, Yong is also the founder of a popular furniture brand Folks Furniture and a retail-based company Grafunkt.
Milton Tan (1954 - 2010)
Milton Tan contributed immensely to Singapore’s design scene with his influential involvement in programmes and initiatives to promote and develop the country’s design sector. He was a Fellow at (then) Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore, from 2002 to 2009, and founding executive director of the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg). Tan’s directorship propelled an establishment of the annual President’s Design Award and the biennial Singapore Design Festival, among other successful initiatives.
Instrumental in developing international design relationships, Tan recognised the importance of highlighting Singapore design on a global scale. He was involved in the signing of five international Memorandums of Understanding with the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers, the Korea Institute of Design Promotion, the State of Victoria, Australia, the Vitra Design Museum and the government of the Kingdom of Denmark. Tan also commenced Singapore’s involvement in the Venice Biennale International Architectural Exhibition with a successful nine-week inaugural presentation in 2004. For his unwavering dedication to Singapore design, Tan was conferred The Public Service Medal by the President of Singapore in 2009.