The Design Directors Behind Singapore's Most Glamorous Homes
Designing a beautiful space is no easy feat; crafting a holistic interior that’s both liveable and luxurious takes the challenge to the next level. “I think design can be very adventurous and glamorous, but there’s also a very practical side to it,” shares Divya Anthony. “At the end of the day, we’re designing for real people who are going to use that space and see it every day.”
That mix of practical knowledge and design flair has led to the success of The I.D. Dept, helmed by the firm’s creative directors and owners Divya Anthony and Jennifer Murray. “We embrace all design styles and we work with high-end residential clients and property developers,” says Murray. “We’re interior designers who push boundaries and want to try something different.”
In over two decades since its founding, the local design practice has created exquisite abodes for celebrities and the jet-set in Singapore and beyond. They're the creative minds behind a slew of award-winning homes, including projects that scooped up accolades at the Tatler Design Awards.
Here, the designers discuss their creative dynamics and the attributes that make the firm’s winning formula so successful:
What inspired your decision to become an interior designer?
Divya Anthony (DA) My family used to run a home furnishings and accessories store in the nineties; I grew up with that design background. I’ve been doing hospitality design for 15 years, focusing on soft furnishings and interior decoration, so residential design was the next stepping stone. Homes are very personal; it’s not about what we like as designers but more about how we design the interior around each client’s lifestyle.
Jennifer Murray (JM) I was trained as an architect; I have a degree from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The reason why I moved into interiors was because I felt that it was more detailed. The time frame of projects is also shorter so you can really see the outcome of each project and you think about the finer details. It’s been exciting to work with residential clients; I quite like that personal tone that it brings into the design elements. Every homeowner we work with is so different and unique with their requests and style.
How would you describe your creative dynamics?
JM I think it’s really good that we don’t have exactly the same skill sets, so we see things from different perspectives. We have to keep challenging each other and think about the best design outcome for each project. With our knowledge in residential design, we can help developers create homes for real people.
How do you seek inspiration from your travels?
DA When we first started, we were focused on projects locally. Having done many successful showflats and private homes, we have come to realise that we should expand overseas, using our intimate knowledge and design flair for residential interiors.
Each new market is unique and different from the next, so we try to capitalise on their strengths and skill sets, while injecting new ideas that they may not be accustomed to. With the internet, it isn’t as difficult as it used to be; everything has gotten so global now. Certain countries have their own style and skill sets. It’s about understanding what each market is good with and working with the materials that they’re great with. We’ve started sourcing overseas as well, so we’re not limited to what we can find here.
Which of your recent projects have been most memorable?
JM We were asked to put together Covette, a high-end, invite-only aesthetic clinic. Even though we work with the high net worth, our company has never done an aesthetic clinic. It won the Aesthetic Clinic of the Year in the Asia Pacific category at the Global Health and Travel Awards 2018; the owner wants to roll it out as a franchise internationally in New York and Milan.
Some firms do the same style and design, which after 10 years, it’s easy to replicate. While my personal style may be more light tones and soft curves, I get thrown into projects with hard edges and dark woods, or another project with a mix and match of colours. I like that transition and the challenge; it broadens your horizons as a designer so that you think about not just your own aesthetic in order to embrace other styles.
DA We’re flexible that way and we adapt to different requests easily. The first project that I worked with the firm was The Nassim. It was an exciting collaboration with Lalique, with all the exquisite crystals; it’s all about the layers and the glamour. That project won an award at the International Property Awards in 2014; these accolades do assure us that we’re in the right direction and that our hard work is being acknowledged.
(Related: Home Tour: A Glamorous House Inspired By Italian Style)
How has technology changed the way that you design?
DA: Technology has evolved so much that it has also brought design to another level. It’s all about the experience of the users and how we as designers can heighten that experience for our clients. For our latest project at the Concourse Skyline, we featured home automation systems, touch screens and interesting products such as Sound Wave, an audio system for the bathroom from Kaldewei.
JM: Lighting is everything. When you walk into your home, you press a button and it becomes a more calm and warm environment; it just creates new avenues that can change a space. Technology and trends are forever changing; that’s why to me, no project is the same. You can always better yourself as a designer as there are always new products and new opportunities.