The evolution of luxury interior design is an interesting theme to explore. During the Gilded Age, it meant an opulent display of wealth, where grandeur on large scales coupled with ornate detailing in homes determined one's status and wealth within society. Fast forward a century and luxury interior design has become a lot more sophisticated.
Rei Ye, the Co-founder and Principal of design consultancy Typeface, defines luxury design as the creation of a space that exudes luxury whilst remaining subtle about it and having meticulous attention to detail without the overt opulence favoured by those from generations prior.
This ethos, coupled with their belief that “form follows function”, has led the Typeface team to create luxurious spaces including the new Sol Luminaire and the LAB2.1 showrooms along Guillemard Road. Here, Rei Ye shares a bit more about what luxury design means to her and what the biggest challenge is when designing spaces in Singapore.
What’s the story behind Typeface?
It started from a really young age. I’ve always looked at houses and apartments from the outside and I think that got me intrigued from wanting to know what the spaces looked like beyond those walls. I guess that burning curiosity never died down and that got me to be on the other side of the wall instead.
Describe Typeface’s design ethos
We focus very much on understanding the occupant’s needs, behaviour, and lifestyle when tackling project briefs. Cliche a"Cliche as it is, but 'Form Follows Function' is always at the core of our thought process"s it is, but “Form Follows Function” is always at the core of our thought process. Our ethos revolves around creating spaces that embody visual simplicity, maintaining spatial integrity through strategic placement of elements while prioritising the well-being and experiences of the people who inhabit them. "Cliche as it is, but 'Form Follows Function' is always at the core of our thought process"
What does luxury design mean to you?
I’d say the basis of it is having a sense of space, with an open layout that allows each of the areas to really stand out. At its core, luxury design is about creating a space that exudes luxury through subtlety and meticulous attention to detail, infused with refined elegance and timeless aesthetics without overt opulence. The focus should also be on craftsmanship, usage of a curated palette of material selection, and creating a soft ambience with well-thought-out illumination coupled with furnishings that enhance the atmosphere without the need for ostentation.
Beyond illuminating spaces, how can lights be utilised in a space?
Lights are essential in creating the right ambience and atmosphere as well. Good placement of lighting products can evoke different moods and emotions in different settings. I’ve also come to see light fixtures as works of art, especially with statement lighting pieces that not only provide illumination but also serve as focal points, contributing to the overall artistic expression of the space.
Which are your favourite lighting products?
The Line series is definitely on top of the list for me. It has a really clean and sleek case, so much so that it feels like it's barely there, yet it does its job, small but mighty.
What is your favourite project that you’ve worked on?
If there absolutely has to be one, my most recent bias would be the LAB2.1. There’s something about the juxtaposition of raw exposed textures with clean, refined mediums that really gets to me, and the LAB2.1 was the perfect place to execute that. But for the record, every project is dear to us otherwise we wouldn't invest time and effort into it.
How do you approach commercial and residential design differently?
We place people at the centre of the design process when it comes to residential projects, and it usually involves empathetic collaboration with clients to understand their unique needs, preferences and stories of the people we design for.
Residential works focus a lot on the occupants, and there are more factors that come into play, mostly surrounding an individual’s lifestyle and habits. We take plenty of minute details into account when designing a personal space, and that's what injects the personal character of the occupants into the projects.
Whilst with commercial or hospitality projects, we adopt a more holistic approach, considering the entire user journey within a space. You’ll find us digging deep to understand the background, values of the company, and history of which the establishment sits. All of those eventually reflect in the end product - much like storytelling, but a visual one. We hope to be able to evoke some kind of emotional response when people step into the spaces we designed, then we’ll know we have succeeded in creating an all-rounded experience.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in designing homes or establishments in Singapore?
The lack of natural lighting that a space gets, and it's not like we can go blowing up openings for windows around the pl"We revolve very much around the human-centred design methodology when approaching projects"ace as well due to building restrictions and regulations. We revolve very much around the human-centred design methodology when approaching projects, so the absence of natural lighting could potentially influence the inhabitant’s mood and quality of living as the space perception becomes really different. "We revolve very much around the human-centred design methodology when approaching projects"
What are some interior styles or projects you’d like to work on in future?
I’ve always been drawn to the raw and organic form of things, so I’d like to explore projects that are open to the concept of “As Found” or what some would refer to as New Brutalism. This means to take things honestly and as they are. For the site, it means taking the site as it is, including what already exists on the site as well as its surrounding context, rather than treating the site as a totally clean slate.
I think it would be pretty neat to explore the possibility of a marriage between that and new-age minimalism as well!