Interview with Jake Chew from Weiken
I have been in this industry for about 4 to 5 years. Before this position, I was a 3D visualizer. So I was doing 3D illustrations using the software 3D Max. I studied interior design and architecture at Temasek Polytechnic, and graduated with a diploma. After that, I started working at 22, so I have around 7 years of experience in designing.
How has your experience been so far as both a 3D visualizer and an interior designer?
3D visualization was more of doing up 3D designs for sales so I didn’t really understand client requirements as I was just designing based on what I thought they needed, but usually there’s more to it like having to cater to their budget and more. After that, moving on to a sales position, I started to understand my clients better, having a better understanding of their design and needs, so I’ll try to design something based on their budget, then after that I will also try to fit in their furniture, to see they’re reusing any existing furniture that they already have. Then after that I’ll prepare the design concept for them, to see if it matches the design that they want. Usually I’ll ask them to show me some of the mood boards regarding the designs that they like, then I’ll try to plan the space according to their needs.
Have you always wanted to be an interior designer?
Yes, since secondary school I have always wanted to be an interior designer, so I have studied very hard to enter the course and get into the profession.
What’s the main principle you follow during an interior design process?
The principle that I follow is aesthetics over functionality. Aesthetically, it has to be nice, in order to function to their needs. So it’s not more of functionality over aesthetics. Because for the amount that they are going to pay, of course it has to be aesthetically pleasing. So not sacrificing any of the looks for functionality is important.
Image by Weiken via Weiken ID
When it gets very busy, how do you take a break?
Usually, when we have 3-4 projects, or more than that going on, we can’t afford to go on a break, unless we have a site project coordinator to assist us, for us to know what's really happening. If we really need to take a break, it would be in the form of a short weekend, or 1-2 days of rest, we really cannot risk taking a whole long weekend break. Even if we take a long break, we still have to know what's happening. We still have to be fully aware of what is going on, and not withdraw ourselves totally.
How do you think loose furniture affects the essence of a home?
Before I start designing a house, I’ll ask the homeowner if they have already purchased their furniture, or are there any furniture that they will reuse from their existing house, because the colour of their furniture will affect what I’m going to propose for the carpentry and the flooring, so if they already have fixed furniture or if they have furniture liked and selected already, then I’ll have to match my design accordingly to their furniture instead of proposing what I think fits best. So the furniture is actually very important, as the colour of the flooring and the furniture has to have a huge contrast. I can’t propose something too close between their colour schemes, otherwise nothing stands out.
Have you ever had clients that want to implement smart devices into their homes?
Some clients would want to implement it, but with smart home devices comes the presence of the mini smart consoles, so we would have to find a way to make the area look nice with the consoles around the area, as well as being able to enjoy the benefits. Plus, they would not be able to use back the traditional switches as well, as it’ll be more of like a touchscreen switch, if they can adapt to this change. If there are elderly staying in the house, it might present a problem as well because some of them can’t get used to this new technology. Language may also be a barrier for them when using smart home devices. All in all, whether or not to implement smart home technology depends on the family staying there.
Do you think the presence of space or using the space is more important?
Both are equally important. How it looks when people first see it, their first impression of the space is more important. In the end, you’d want to impress the people that you invite over.
Image by Weiken via Weiken ID
Do you have any advice for new homeowners?
Usually I’ll ask them if they’re staying in that unit long-term, or short-term, because if it’s short-term, then I’d recommend them not to spend so much on build-ins, and rather spend more on furniture, so they can easily move them over to their future homes, so they should spend more on furniture to make the interior look nice, and it’ll be easier to reuse them, rather than focusing on the build-ins. In the long run, for example, after 3 years, you might find that your carpentry is outdated already, and you’ll start to like newer designs, so don’t need to do a lot of in-builds. Things like kitchen cabinets, for example, are necessities, so we’d have to see what is really required, like wardrobes and kitchen accessories, but the rest we can always style out with loose furniture, loose items that they can reuse.
Have you ever faced an issue regarding space and how did you overcome it?
Most of the time, for condominiums that I’ve designed, their living spaces are always very tight, but they always want storages, plenty of storages in a tight living environment, so the challenge is to design something that doesn’t look like a storage space, but something more of a hidden area, so when they have friends over, then that space can be opened up and be more of like a surprise element, and people will be surprised with the design, and it won’t look so dead with cabinets everywhere. It is a design element that flows through the entire house, but they’re still able to use it as a storage space.
Most memorable experience with a client?
There was a project I did that involved a ceiling with mirrors, because of the low ceiling height, but it was my first time doing such a thing. So we implemented it, but by using acrylic mirrors, and I was really happy when my client took my advice to put mirrors on the ceiling, because usually clients wouldn’t want mirrors on their ceiling due to safety reasons, so I was quite pleased when they took my idea because it turned out looking very good by elevating the height, and my clients were very happy too.
What is one example of you going the extra mile for a client?
Usually we don’t really bring customers around to shop for accessories, but for this one customer, I brought them around 4-5 shops looking for loose items, because it was a nautical concept, like beach themed, so we went to source for towels and stuff along that design, and we had to look around a few shops because you can’t get everything from one shop. Apart from physical shops, I had to also look around online stores like EZbuy and Taobao, send them the product link, and get them to purchase the item, and after purchasing, I still had to implement those items into the design, so I really went out of my way for that. As long as my client is satisfied, I am satisfied.
Image by Weiken via Weiken ID
Any tips for fresh interior designers?
Keep it simple. Because some things, when overcomplicated, won’t fit the design. Priority still goes to aesthetics. What is on the outside comes first, what is on the inside is for our own knowledge.
Jake Chew (Interior Designer)
18 Boon Lay Way #01-134 TradeHub 21
Tel: +65 64656656
M: +65 9022 6834