Come March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day—a day dedicated to honouring the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
In honour of this global celebration, Singapore Tatler shining a spotlight on leading female designers in Singapore who have faced challenges with grit in their own paths to success.
Isabelle Miaja, Miaja Design Group
French designer Isabelle Miaja is no stranger to success. Her eponymous design firm has more than two decades worth of experience under its belt; it houses a strong international portfolio with projects ranging from luxury hotel operators to high-end residential spaces.
To overcome such gender bias barriers took fortitude. Besides surrounding herself with a synergetic team and arming herself with knowledge, the award-winning interior designer also relied on “creating relationships without focusing on the gender; showing assurance backed by experience; (demonstrating) flexibility without giving in under pressure; holding on to my creative side without losing sight of the overall need of the project; and standing up for the project integrity, no matter who is in front of me.”
Nikki Hunt and Andrea Savage, of Design Intervention
Design Intervention is one of the highly-celebrated Singapore-based firms known for crafting luxurious homes and outstanding commercial projects—all thanks to the joint brilliance from founder Nikki Hunt and co-CEO Andrea Savage. Helmed by the two design powerhouses, the highly lauded studio has worked on a range of exemplary projects with reputable clients across the region.
Terri Tan, Designworx Interior Consultant
Terri Tan, the design director at Designworx Interior Consultant, attributes the success of her thriving firm to “maintaining a positive outlook (that) has been instrumental in the company’s growth over the past 20-odd years”.
Indeed, the Singapore-based interior design company has made a name for itself. Besides boasting an illustrious portfolio that covers a plethora of spaces which include retail spaces, mixed developments and luxury residences, the design firm has also clinched numerous awards (including the Best Penthouse Project at 2020’s Tatler Design Awards) as a mark of its excellence.
The road to success, though, is never a straight line. “One of the biggest barriers to women’s success in the design industry is a work culture that rewards male values like competition and the “hero mentality”, and underrates feminine qualities like empathy, compassion and intuition,” Tan shares.
“Instead of moulding myself to the existing culture and end up perpetuating the status quo, I decided to embrace the feminine qualities and inject them into the design solutions for our clients.”
For those who are starting to forge their paths in interior design, the seasoned design leader urges: “Interior design is about exploring the social and cultural opportunities around us, as well as connecting human activities with the built environment. Be flexible and adaptable—these two qualities will see you through a design career. Finally, ask hard questions and try the seemingly impossible.”
(Related: House Tour: A Black And White Bungalow With A Contemporary Interior)
Tan Sze Ling, Topic Design Studio
Helming Topic Design Studio is principal designer Tan Sze Ling. Under her leadership, the design firm has thrived and is recognised for its expertise in luxury residential spaces for a range of local and international clients.
Jennifer Murray and Lian Miew Ching, Evocateurs
Leading the esteemed interior design house Evocateurs (formerly The I.D. Department) are creative directors Lian Miew Ching and Jennifer Murray. Evocateurs has refreshed itself as a brand of spatial provocateurs, sensorial craftsmen and style aesthetes. Steered by the two leaders, the design firm hosts an extensive menu of services, from interior fit-outs to residential design and restaurant spaces, one of which includes rooftop fine dining restaurant Vue.
To distinguish oneself in the design field, both personalities agree that passion is a crucial attribute. “First and foremost, in this industry, you must have passion; passion will be the driving force you need for this career path,” says Murray. “It will help you through the challenging and frustrating times and will keep you curious in this constantly evolving design world. You should always be curious and feel inspired in order to be inspiring to others.”
“Be a sponge. Observe, absorb, apply. Rinse and repeat. A talented, passionate designer needs to use every opportunity to grow their skills, experience in life and in design. It is important to expand our minds, not to be siloed in our growth as designers,” Ching advises. “Cultivating a broad base of knowledge and experience elevates our ability to speak to that audience in ways which resonate with them.”
Sarah Tham, of Cube Associate Design
In 1998, design director Sarah Tham founded Cube Associate Design. Since then, the design practice has flourished, earning itself notable achievements and landing an undeniable mark in the industry.
The firm’s success comes as no surprise with Tham’s meticulous and attentive design approach. She believes that good design should be uncomplicated and functional, whilst bringing in a sense of positivity that will convey feelings of delight and bliss.
Angela Lim, SuMisura
An exceptional interior designer in her own right, Angela Lim has crafted a name for herself in her field. The creative director of interior design firm SuMisura, Lim leads the team with her impeccable taste and innovative abilities.
With her sharp design acumen and expert leadership, Lim breaks stereotypical gender barriers in the industry. The design firm’s numerous prestigious awards attest to her accomplishments and mastery.
Chloe Elkerton, E&A Interiors
To Chloe Elkerton, having a positive and supportive work environment is key. The founder and creative director of E&A Interiors moved here and started the Singapore-based design studio in 2013. “Being determined and overcoming disappointments can be tough, but when you do what you love, you push on through and remain positive,” says Elkerton.
Read Press Release here - International Women’s Day 2021