Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer ETHOSpace Pte Ltd ("EPL") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

EPL : My first physical encounter with art was at Antelope Canyon when I was much younger. The rock formations shaped by water over many years resonated deeply within me and I aspired to become a sculptor ever since. This was unfortunately not meant to be. This permanent curiosity towards nature’s artistry led me to study architecture at Cornell University; and, over time, I eventually gravitated towards interior design.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

EPL : Traveling around the globe while experiencing our planet’s cultural richness and how uniquely different the natural/built environment looked in every geographic region piqued and reinforced my interest in design. During my initial years as a young designer, I felt more could be done in the realm of interior design to invoke nature, culture and emotion. I eventually got together with a few like-minded people, including my sister, to incorporate our design firm, ethospace with the firm belief that we could make a difference in a small but meaningful way in relation to how beauty should feel and be seen.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

EPL : I aspired to become a sculptor and eventually chose architecture as my degree. But time and chance led me to finally become a designer instead.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

EPL : We design interiors for hotels, commercial/offices, residences, restaurants and museums. If we had to choose which works we find most fulfilling, it would likely be the projects that authorize us to break free from conventional norms, giving us the opportunity to originate designs that are uniquely different, daring and bold, regardless of scale and program.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

EPL : Always be pushing boundaries and testing the limits, even when faced with scepticism. You will eventually pierce through that once unbreachable glass ceiling.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

EPL : A good designer may create aesthetically pleasing work that is conservative and conventionally safe. A great designer would likely conceive designs that are bold, daring and often times unconventionally risky, opening the doors to possible criticism.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

EPL : Successful design, in our view, would be a multi-faceted composition that is robust enough to pique curiosity, trigger emotion and opens the imagination by paving the way to new possibilities, while concurrently addressing the functional and commercial needs of a client and their end-users. In essence, functional and commercial purpose is what often stands in the way of a designer from becoming a pure artist. In most cases, the more a designer transcends function, the more compelling the design.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

EPL : From an artistic perspective, good design inspires and paves the way to new possibilities and modes of expression, which ultimately adds richness and variety to design uniformity which is so prevalent in this present age. From a commercial standpoint, investment in good design can enhance and elevate a company’s brand.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

EPL : Our creed is to design interiors that we would personally enjoy experiencing; and, we have never wavered from this simple guiding philosophy.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

EPL : Sculptors like Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi never fail to impress even till this day.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

EPL : By listening with one’s eyes; and, seeing with one’s heart. Giving full attention to clients and end-users requirements without predispositions, while invoking the emotional design aspects of site’s full potential can help to significantly improve the final outcome of a design project.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

EPL : I would likely have become an artist, possibly a sculptor, engaging in abstract art

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

EPL : In my personal view, design is the process of collaboration to create a lifestyle with specific end-users in mind; and, one of the means in which designers are able to enhance and reinforce client vision and brand. To put it in another way, the functional end-user requirement often prevents a designer from becoming an artist.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

EPL : I am most grateful to my design team members for their tireless dedication to our craft, my sister for her relentless support on the business aspects of our company and my wife who has steadfastly remained by my side in the face of difficulty

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

EPL : A desire to always be questioning and pushing the status quo didn’t hurt, so it appears.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

EPL : Most obstacles were not too difficult to address because they simply required actionable steps to resolve. It was the inaction of having to patiently wait for the right opportunities that proved difficult. Having the right amount of patience and faith is essential.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

EPL : To make a difference in our small but meaningful way in relation to how we believe beauty should feel and be seen.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

EPL : Design can help to convey a certain lifestyle and attitude meant for its end-user audience; and, can also influence and shape personal mindsets and world views to some extent. In today’s context, design can be used as a vehicle to participate in saving the planet with the use of ecologically sustainable materials, which is an area that still requires more in-depth exploration.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

EPL : We are particularly fond of our work for the interiors for the Art Rotana Hotel in Bahrain. Within this project lies the culmination of our perennial endeavours to seamlessly weave together a site’s ancient origins with the building’s modern architecture; and, how these two seemingly opposing constituents had served as the source of our design inspiration for the present age, in relation to how our interiors might stand in future. We also explored the various types of flora surrounding the site; and, extracted relevant shapes that appealed to our aesthetic sensibilities as the basis of influence for our design language in relation to the interiors.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

EPL : Ideally, it ought to be every designer’s fiduciary duty to exercise the trust placed in him to select ecologically sustainable materials appropriate for an ecosystem that would ultimately be bequeathed to our future generations. While this is still a challenge to fully put into practice today, it ought to be the direction all designers should be heading towards.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

EPL : Boundaries between our many cultures, while still distinct, are gradually in the process of blurring and becoming vague. While this does have its benefits and downsides, designs in future will likely follow similar trends, for better or worse, with a predominant theme that would prevail over other themes. Design today, it appears, is gradually distancing itself from our traditional understanding of the linear aesthetic and transitioning towards nature vis-a-vis organic forms and ethereal materials. However, even with an eventual predominant theme in place, the various degrees of cultural fusion and growth in the diversity of building and decorative materials would hopefully help to balance the scales between design uniformity and culture-specific originality.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

EPL : Generally, the quest for perfection is a process that comes with its own beginnings without end. Fortunately or unfortunately, a client’s schedule, which could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, prevents a designer from continually refining his work without end. To a greater degree, there comes a time when a design team has to stop the refining process because doing more would only serve to dissolve the primary message. At this point, the process of refinement is complete for the project at hand.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

EPL : Our process begins with developing an in-depth understanding of our client’s vision and objectives. When full clarity is achieved, we proceed to study the drawings and/or physical site, it’s cultural heritage and present day architectural context. Keeping these in mind, we then envision the interiors in relation to how we would like to experience the given space ourselves, within a perfect and idealistic setting. When the general atmosphere and feel of the space is determined, we move onto selecting the materials and lighting types aimed at triggering and amplifying the various moods and key aspects relevant to the client’s ultimate purpose. Once material selection is complete, we would then sketch the forms required to express the full potential of the site. We then go through a repetitive process of refining the forms until they resonate with our own aesthetic sensibilities. This is when we finalize the design for submission.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

EPL : To pursue truth, to question convention and to always be pushing the boundaries by exploring unchartered territory even in the face of criticism and scepticism.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

EPL : It is arguably the case that design gives birth to a trend only when there is demand; and, where there is strong demand, the trend then reinforces the design. Demographic and lifestyle characteristics serve as the primary predictors of demand that inadvertently sets the stage for design trends. Rather than identifying the trend or design itself, we strive to transcend the trend by studying demographic and lifestyle patterns of our end-users; and, formulate our design approach in response to those same behavioural patterns.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

EPL : We rely very much on technology, which is becoming absolutely necessary to design and create the unconventional. Technology frees the imagination and empowers us to quickly and precisely generate what was only quite recently deemed highly difficult to design and construct.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

EPL : Like most other designers, we often use 3DS Max and other 3D application software to conceive our designs.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

EPL : Color, materials and ambience are crucial to design. They establish the mood so as to create an atmosphere relevant to the spatial program’s ultimate purpose. We gravitate towards blended colors that cannot easily be categorized into any specific genre. Depending on the nature of a project, we also have a preference for reflective materials because they inherently create visual depth and multiple dimensions to an otherwise flat surface. Ambient lighting, in relationship to its surrounding color and material, is also critical in determining the overall feel of a space. As more technological enhancements come online, the diversity of materials and ambient lighting will continue to evolve in-sync. The materials and lighting systems we are seeing today are merely the tip of the iceberg of what is likely to come.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

EPL : What comes to mind are new possibilities and applications, coupled with admiration for the designer who conceived the design or product.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

EPL : An ideal design partner is probably someone whom I can have unspoken understandings with that require minimal agreements and verbal explanations. Co-design can work very well if both designers are flexible and are comfortable with working as a team. Two heads are always better than one, so yes, I believe in co-design.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

EPL : There appears to be no short cuts to this laborious process. We strive to always be constantly refining our designs without end, which is probably not far off from a musician who repetitively plays her instrument to master a score.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

EPL : There was a client who loved his yachts and he asked to design the interiors of his home to make it feel like one of his yachts. I proposed that he simply had to down a few glasses of wine to achieve the same effect.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

EPL : We find great satisfaction in becoming one with our clients, vendors and contractors, by virtue of our close collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and skills. This sense of fulfilment is magnified when all parties are aligned and moving toward the common objective of creating something fascinating and out of the ordinary. Motivation can be derived from the therapeutic experience when it comes down to working on the actual sketches and digital models with our design team.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

EPL : I believed I would be a good abstract sculptor, unfortunately it was not meant to be.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

EPL : Boundaries between our many cultures, while still distinct, are gradually in the process of blurring and becoming vague. While this does have its benefits and downsides, designs in future will likely follow similar trends, for better or worse, with a predominant theme that would prevail over other themes. Design today, it appears, is gradually distancing itself from our traditional understanding of the linear aesthetic and transitioning towards nature vis-a-vis organic forms and ethereal materials. However, even with an eventual predominant theme in place, the various degrees of cultural fusion and growth in the diversity of building and decorative materials would hopefully help to balance the scales between design uniformity and culture-specific originality.



Poetic Journey Hotel

Poetic Journey Hotel by ETHOSpace Pte Ltd

Light Residential House

Light Residential House by ETHOSpace Pte Ltd

Timeless Values Privilege Banking

Timeless Values Privilege Banking by ETHOSpace Pte Ltd

The Man Office

The Man Office by ETHOSpace Pte Ltd

Prospering Generations Office

Prospering Generations Office by ETHOSpace Pte Ltd

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