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Interview with Director Daphne from DAP Atelier

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About Daphne

I started my interior design journey with my previous company. After 5 years there, I decided to move out and venture on my own. These 6 years as DAP Atelier have been really good so far, being able to still be a boutique kind of firm. I’ve been blessed with really good referrals and clients, I’d like to say that I’ve been lucky. I used to be based in the area of Yio Chu Kang, and only moved here (current showroom at The Citron) last year.

What is your interior designer origin story?

11 years ago, when Job Central was very popular, my previous boss approached me and called me to invite me into the world of interior design. I didn’t have any prior experience or a lot of sales experience, but those didn’t matter. I was taught how to run a job site, how to design, everything that I needed to start building my foundation.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

Daily life. I did travel quite a bit last time, so I gather ideas and inspiration from the things I see outside, things that are done a little differently than Singapore. I try to incorporate those ideas into my designs and present them to my clients, depending on whether they would be open to adventurous designs. Most homeowners will want to play it safe and use designs that are more long lasting. I’d often advise clients to be very careful when choosing their colour scheme, because what they’ve chosen might last them for a few years, then they’ll probably get tired of it, so I’d suggest something a little off or something a little softer in the colour tone that they’d like.

Which place that you’ve visited gave you the most inspiration?

Korea. Their culture, their cafes, everything there seems to have it’s own unique design, even little convenience stores. Italian, Victorian, be it monochrome or vibrant designs, they have it all.

Image by DAP Atelier via DAP Atelier

How does loose furniture change the setting of the house?

Actually, many clients nowadays prefer not to do so much built-in furniture, and would rather use loose furniture if possible. How we as designers plan the renovation, the carpentry and everything we can do beautifully, but if the wrong loose furniture are placed, the whole look will not come together as one. So because of that, loose furniture actually plays a very important part in the house. Whenever clients want more vibrant and playful colours in their homes, I will advise them to go for something more careful and easy for the built-in furniture, then they can go wild on the loose furniture, and experiment, because anything that they don’t like, they can just change easily. 

How important is communication in an interior design process?

Communication in this day and age is very easy due to applications like Whatsapp. Anything and everything can be updated through videos and pictures, sent through Whatsapp. Updates and news, whenever is needed to be passed on, will be passed on immediately. The whole renovation process, from the start of discussions til handover, and even sometimes after the handover there will still be communication between us and the homeowner.

What are some moments where you’ve gone the extra mile for your clients?

There have been instances whereby my clients wanted certain stuff from IKEA, so I went down with them to shop for what they wanted at IKEA, and then arrange the delivery for them, help them make sure that everything is sent properly and assembled correctly. Even sometimes when replacements for certain items are needed urgently, I would go all the way down to the shop to get it for them. These are the small actions that I’ve done and would consider to be going the extra mile for my clients.

What was something that a homeowner has done for you that was very memorable?

Recently I’ve had a client that gave me chocolate for Christmas. To some people, it may seem like a simple gesture, but to me it felt very sweet and touching. We don’t expect anything, and once we’ve handed over the project happily, that would be it. One time, one of my clients even gave me a red packet, which was nice. It wasn’t about the money, but the gesture itself just lets us know that they appreciate what we’re doing for them, which is nice to know.

Image by DAP Atelier via DAP Atelier

What advice would you give to fresh/aspiring interior designers?

You need a good mentor. You need to join a company that you know you’ll be able to get a lot of help and guidance from. There is no point in joining a company where the manager has no time for you, and you’ll have to learn everything by yourself, which happens a lot. Especially now, since there are many polytechnic students taking interior design courses, they need to go around and feel what it’s really like, go around and see which firm can guide you, if not there’s no point, because what they learn in their courses and actuality is very different. I had an intern previously who told me that what she had learnt and what we did hands on was very different. So really, a good mentor is important.

Any tips for homeowners?

Try to send as many details to your interior designer as possible. Screenshots, pictures, whatever you see online that you like, all these will help your designer understand you better and know what you really like. On the side of space planning, don’t worry, the designer will help you do most of it, to give the whole house a little bit of comfortability and functionality. Colours, however, that is where owners can really help and enhance our vision towards their projects.

What is the future you have planned for DAP Atelier?

I hope to have a bigger location and more staff in the future. Not to the point of being a firm that has too many people, but a number that I will be able to manage and still be able to stick to being a boutique style firm. 

Image by DAP Atelier via DAP Atelier


Daphne Tan (Studio Manager)

DAP Atelier

1 Marne Road #01-27

The Citron

Singapore 208380

Tel: +65 9800 5238

Email: daphne@dapatelier.com