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Interview with Senior Project Manager Justin from Ideal Design Interior

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About Justin

I started my journey as a designer in 2012, so around 9 years already. I was introduced to this line by my friend, who is the boss of the company, and he asked me to give it a shot, since back then I already had the experience of doing sales. After trying it out, I realised that this was something that I wanted to do, as I really enjoy meeting people, travelling around, talking to clients and giving ideas. The experience so far is good, as the clients I’ve met are reasonable, open to suggestions, and generally very receptive to my ideas. They’ve been referring their friends and relatives to me as well so that really shows that they love my after sales service.

What inspired you to be an interior designer?

I actually didn’t think about going into interior design, because I wasn’t sure about it, and I had no prior knowledge on the technical parts of the job either. My friend asked me to give it a try, and showed me the ropes, for example the things to do, meeting clients, what is the design and trend that is popular at the moment. Then on my part, I started to do some research on my own, exploring and reading more magazines, and I found that it is actually quite interesting to design for people, to help homeowners achieve their dream home, and that got me determined to stay on until now.

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What is one key principle that you keep in mind during your projects?

One thing that is crucial is the mutual trust between the clients and me. I will build a bond, build a trust, with some form of personal guarantee, showing them my previous projects, even bringing new clients to the homes of previous clients to show them what I have accomplished, to let them know that they can place their trust and faith in me. 

Ideal Design Interior aims to “enhance the vision of (our) clients”. What are the steps taken to achieve this?

Reputation and trust, these two things are very important to me. Once you’ve earned your reputation and trust, people will keep coming back to you. So I want to build a network base whereby clients will introduce their friends and relatives to me, from that I will be able to know that I’ve done right by them. No matter the issue, I want to solve it in any way possible, to let the clients know that I’ll do anything to help them out. I want more people to know about Ideal Design Interior, as a firm that consists of a group of people which homeowners can trust and leave their homes to us.

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How do you think loose furniture affects the essence of space?

As long as I can get the details of the furniture or item that they are thinking of buying or keeping, be it size, where they want to showcase it, or even the history of the item, I will try to implement them into the design that they want. I will be flexible, and think of ways to match the item with the design, rather than ask them to throw it away or store it. If it is something that they are asking my opinions on, then it must be something of value and importance to them, so it wouldn’t make sense to simply ask them to throw it away. Even in the cases where it wouldn’t match the design, I will still try to make some changes to get them to fit, so that the clients will still be satisfied.

How important is the role of communication for interior designers?

Usually I will personally deal with the contractors, and not let my clients contact them directly. I think it’s better that way because as an interior designer, I am the middleman between the homeowner and the contractors. Clients can issue any enquiries to me, and then I will be able to then explain in detail to the contractors on the requirements and needs of the clients, without the client worrying about needing to use a lot of technical terms. This is the kind of trust I am building between my clients and my contractors as well, for them to know that communication can still go on smoothly and quickly.

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What are some examples of you going the extra mile for your homeowners?

I have gone to the extent of going around sourcing for furniture without them, which helps save their time and energy. As long as they know what is going on, I will take pictures for them, get their acknowledgement and then help them acquire the furniture, then they don’t have to be there physically. In fact, I try not to be there when they’re looking for loose furniture like dining tables, sofas, that kind of stuff, because I feel that my presence will stress them into making a quick decision. I have no problems being there, and actually I would want to be there to be able to advise them on their choices, but they can’t help but feel bad that they’re taking up my time, which makes them think that they need to make quick decisions on the items that they are going to get. I don’t want them to get something that they will regret buying in the end, so I would rather propose the choices in colour, sizes and styles to them, and advise them accordingly before and during their visit to look at the items.

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What are some moments whereby your homeowner has done something for you that was memorable?

There was one time that I told my clients that I would be going for a short holiday, because I had a 2 weeks break where I had nothing much to do. One of my clients actually gave me a red packet as a blessing for a safe journey and I was so touched. Furthermore, there are also clients that will bring back stuff from their holidays for me, as they knew that I had an interest in that specific item, and that is very heartwarming as well. Most of my clients do keep in touch with me after the project too, sending messages with blessings during holidays or events, and even recommending me to their friends and relatives.

How do you take your breaks?

I prefer to go overseas, due to the fact that I am able to go to their cafes, see their decor and furniture, and have a taste of their style. Being able to analyze their design helps me learn from it too.

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What advice would you give fresh or aspiring interior designers?

First, you’ll have to suffer a few months of hardship, that is definitive. If you can pull through this difficult phase, give or take half a year to even a full year, you will be able to see the results start coming back. You have to be honest and realistic as well. Be able to do the hard work, and then you will see the result. Flexibility is important too, as interior designers, we need to be flexible especially when meeting clients. Never force your ideas to be implemented, as that will never end well. Instead, be flexible and think of other ways to help your homeowner to achieve what they want. There will always be hard times, but accept the suffering, and go through it, then you’ll see the results at the other side.

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Any tips for homeowners?

Do not go for cheap things, because you can never be too sure of their quality. Speaking from experience, if you go for cheap things, like low quotations, usually they will miss out a lot of things, things that are not put inside the quotation, which then they will do a very short order to them. You have to open up, really go and talk to the interior designer, and yes the price may be higher, but let them explain to you on what they can offer and advise you. Instead of approaching the ones who can talk really well, and promise you the world, but in the end they don’t fulfill your wishes or the promises that they’ve made. That’s why for me, when I meet my clients, I don’t promise them anything first, I will tell them to let me take a look and see what I can do for them.

What is the future you have planned for yourself?

I love being an interior designer, but I feel that we have to open the path for the new generation. I would like to help young and fresh interior designers, to nurture them and guide them along in the experience.


Justin Tan (Senior Project Manager)

Ideal Design Interior

140 Paya Lebar Road, #01-18

Singapore 409015

Tel: +65 6281 1682

Email: sales@idealdesigninterior.com