Chee Su Eing, a director of one of Singapore’s premier interior design firms, talks about the art of decoration and the challenges of working as an interior designer
Chee Su Eing is a director of D’Perception, which has seven offices across the Asia-Pacific region.
Why did you want to become an interior designer?
When I was young, I often daydreamed of lounging in beautiful interiors. I used to help my mum shift furniture around the house and observe how people interacted in the refreshed environment. At university, I read architecture,and that was when I realised I love to design and wanted to create built environments which could add value to our lifestyle. I also like to interact with people and enjoy co-creating to realise their ideals… Designing interiors is my expression of creativity. Seeing the visual transformation of any good renovation project is always satisfying.
What does your day-to-day work look like?
It varies. Some days are designated for on-site project meetings where issues are discussed and resolved in coordination with other consultants and contractors. For the bigger-scale projects, I develop good leg muscles and stamina, inspecting the progressive works at the development. There are other [periods] where I’m intensely engaged in presentations of design concepts and development to my clients. And, of course, a good part of my time is also spent at the office. As interior designers, we need to keep up with trends, understand the available technology [and be aware of] new materials and products. Hence, conceiving ideas, research and discussion with knowledgeable partners and specialists, and selection of materials and colours, are part and parcel of my daily routine.
What are the most enjoyable parts of your job?
The process of designing: I like to host design thinking sessions in the office. My design team would comb through books and browse the internet for ideas, sketch on butter paper and bounce questions and create scenarios for discussion. It’s gratifying to create through collaboration with my colleagues.
What are the main challenges in interior design?
Understanding and working with site and technical constraints without compromising on good design requires creativity as well as sensibility. Good time management during the implementation stage, which usually is rather short, must be coupled with diligent inspection to ensure quality outcomes. Providing sound advice to clients and managing their expectations must be simultaneous. The skill sets required to deliver good work are broad. As none of us is gifted in every aspect, an interior design project requires teamwork. Establishing the right fit in a team could be a challenge.
What advice would you give to budding interior designers?
It’s a dynamic role. Design and creativity only forms part of the job scope. A designer must have the appetite to wrangle for ideas to create and conceptualise. These must be processed and effectively communicated via visual and verbal presentations. Interpersonal skills must be honed to deliver ideas to clients and contractors for implementation. Collaboration with other design professionals would enrich your life as an interior designer.
This article was published in the February edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.