Industry Leaders Leonard Lee, Shireena Shroff Manchharam And Marcus Ang On How They Pursue Excellence
Living By Design
For interior designer Leonard Lee, each of his projects begins with a story. “I see design as a way of bringing people on an emotional journey,” says the regional managing director and creative officer for Asia-Pacific at interior architectural firm, Wilson Associates. Leonard has been with the company for nearly two decades, during which he has built an impressive portfolio of projects with big hospitality names such as The Ritz‑Carlton, Shangri-La, Capella and Conrad.
And like Italian carmaker Maserati, whose inventive designs exude both elegance and sportiness at once, Leonard seeks to challenge the status quo through his work. With hotels, for example, “it’s not about the start and end of a guest’s journey as much as it is about what happens in between”, he explains. “So what we try to do is change the hotel arrival experience by having guests walk through ‘activated’ lobby spaces. For instance, we may emphasise the lobby lounge and bar over the reception counter. This way, a guest’s first impression of the hotel is full of activity and vibrancy versus the traditional stagnant reception experience.” This, he notes, can be done by adding interesting features and touchpoints such as cafes and interactive wall art.
The technicalities behind designing an experiential space have intrigued Leonard since his days at Temasek Polytechnic, where he learned about the various fields of design. “Not many understand how difficult it is to design a space. It requires technical knowledge, because you need to know how high the bed should be, as well as [the optimal height of] the side table or restaurant counter, just so that they are convenient for people to use.”
At the same time, he is equally fascinated by how design can evolve over time. “I truly appreciate it when a designer takes something iconic and breathes new life into it.” He likens this to what Maserati has done with its GranCabrio Sport, which harks back to two of its iconic gran turismo (GT) cars: the A6 1500 GT Pininfarina and the 3500GT prototype. The latter is incidentally one of Leonard’s favourite cars growing up.
“Although it looks quite different from the older cars that inspired it, the GranCabrio Sport is more taut and muscular, with an even more impressive stance and road presence. The grille and trident emblem at the front are beautifully proportioned, with the headlights now designed to look more intimidating,” he enthuses. The grand tourer is designed by Italian car design firm and coachbuilder Pininfarina which, Leonard also notes, has paid careful attention to perfecting the car’s sleek body lines, soft open top and plush cabin. “Together, these features help make the GranCabrio Sport a truly exciting convertible to drive.”
But what ultimately draws him to the car is not just its looks. “The sound of the GranCabrio Sport’s V8 engine—in the way Maserati has designed all of its engines—strikes a chord with me. It evokes an emotion, and this is similar to what I seek to do as a designer. I want my work to have an effect, whether it’s through sound or a touchpoint.”
MASERATI GRANCABRIO SPORT
Body: Four-seater convertible
Engine: 4.7L V8 petrol engine
Max Power: 460hp
Max Torque: 510Nm at 4,750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed ZF automatic
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 5.0sec
Top Speed: 285km/h
Fuel Consumption: 14.5L/100km (combined mode)
The GranCabrio Sport is more taut and muscular, with an even more impressive stance and road presence. The grille and trident emblem at the front are beautifully proportioned, with the headlights now designed to look more initimidating
— Leonard Lee
Perfecting The Craft
“My idea of a beautiful product is one that is made from materials of impeccable quality, has a timeless design, and is created with passion—much like what Maserati has ensured in its first-ever SUV, the Levante,” says Shireena Shroff Manchharam, founder of exotic skins bag label, House of Sheens. Driven by functionality, her designs, on which she often collaborates with students from local tertiary institutions such as the Management Development Institute of Singapore, are very much a reflection of who she is: practical and classy.
The mother of two first started her entrepreneurial journey in 2012, when she and her property developer husband Ashish Manchharam were still living in Hong Kong. At the time, she was running her own image coaching and consulting company, Sheens Image Consulting, with clients such as BNP Paribas, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and OCBC Bank. However, she yearned to express her creativity differently, which led to the establishment of House of Sheens.
(Related: 5 Designer Collaborations Not To Miss This Month)
As its head designer, Shireena is a stickler for details, and it shows in her bag designs. With the time-strapped, multitasking contemporary woman in mind, she elegantly incorporates handy features such as a pocket for a water bottle (or milk bottle), an external leather strap that allows a bag to be slotted into one’s luggage handle, and adjustable straps for easy carrying. “I want to help women find a bag that works for them and their lifestyle, so my designs are always versatile and functional.”
Her design standards for bags also apply to the cars she drives. “I’m always carrying a lot of things to my showroom, and I also have kids and a dog, so I always need as much space as I can get.” As a result, her preferred type of car is the SUV, much like the Levante, which has a load space of 580L. “The Levante is beautiful, spacious and perfect for families. It makes you feel safe when you are in it, and it’s so smooth on the road. Its interior is so elegant and plush, and the leather upholstery feels amazing to the touch. It shows that Maserati is very meticulous with its craftsmanship, which resonates with me as a bag designer.”
Body: Mid-size luxury SUV
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo V6 petrol engine
Max Power: 350hp
Max Torque: 500Nm at 1,750 to 5,000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed ZF automatic
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 6.0sec
Top Speed: 251km/h
Fuel Consumption: 10.7L/100km (combined mode)
The Levante is beautiful, spacious and perfect for families. It makes you feel safe when you are in it, and it’s so smooth on the road
— Shireena Shroff Manchharam
Power And Precision
There’s no room for failure in Marcus Ang’s job as a consultant ophthalmologist at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). This might sound stressful to some, but for the eye doctor, it’s part and parcel of the job. “Eye surgery requires precision and performance, every single time,” he says. “I believe these are the qualities that Maserati also adheres to when it comes to the engineering of its cars.”
On top of treating patients at the clinic and performing complex eye surgeries, Marcus is also engaged in researching for new eye care solutions for myopia and corneal transplantation, as well as partaking in community outreach programmes outside of work.
Part of the volunteer work he does includes spearheading Singapore-based non-profit organisation Global Clinic’s vision team and furthering its efforts to bring eye care to less fortunate communities across Asia and Africa. On a single medical aid trip, Marcus and his team of eye care experts may perform up to 500 surgical procedures. Regardless of the physical conditions he may find himself in, he never loses focus. “A well‑executed ocular surgery requires good reaction and a sharp mind, no matter the circumstances,” he says as he takes the wheel of the Maserati Ghibli, a car that the brand prides as having the best handling in its class and boasts a powerful 350hp V6 twin‑turbocharged, Ferrari-built engine.
(Related: How The Global Clinic Is Empowering The Developing World With Good Health)
Despite his intense work schedule, Marcus just took on another role as clinical director of the recently opened Myopia Centre at the new SNEC Eye Clinic @ Bedok. “Myopia is fast becoming recognised as the world’s leading public health issue in the realm of eye care, with billions of people estimated to be affected in the near future, especially in Asia.” The SNEC Myopia Centre is the first of its kind in Asia, combining clinical services with research innovation and education in a single centre. Marcus’ keenness to add this new role to his existing workload aligns with a professional goal of his: to help Singapore become a leader in providing and advancing eye care in the region.
To match his fast-paced life, Marcus says that his choice of car would be “a sports car with a signature sound, has precise handling, but is also family-friendly. I see these qualities in the Ghibli. It’s a luxurious everyday car with an uncompromised driving performance that certainly fits well with a lifestyle like mine.”
Body: Four-door luxury sedan
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo V6 petrol engine
Max Power: 350hp
Max Torque: 500Nm at 4,500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed ZF automatic
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 5.5sec
Top Speed: 267km/h
Fuel Consumption: 8.9L/100km (combined mode)
Eye surgery requires precision and performance, every single time. I believe these are the qualities that Maserati also adheres to when it comes to the engineering of its cars
— Marcus Ang
For more on how the trio is reaching for success in their careers, watch the video below.
- Photography Gan
- Art Direction Matilda Au
- Styling Joey Tan
- Hair Chris Siow, using Revlon Professional and Ernest Lim, using IGK
- Make-Up Delanie Wong, using Hera and Keith Bryant Lee, using Giorgio Armani Beauty
- Photographer's Assistant Sam Baderi
- Location The Yards