Designer Spotlight : Blaine Robert Design
Since 2016, Blaine Robert Design has come a long way from being a small firm in Petaling Jaya with only 4 team members and to over 50 to date. Over the years, the firm has won numerous awards, including the SuperTrust badge two years in a row (2020-2021) and the Qanvast Design Award in 2020. Despite their success, the team remains grounded and constantly strives to improve their designs.
Driving the firm’s vision is CEO Blaine Robert, who has more than three decades of experience in the industry. Prior to moving to Malaysia and establishing Blaine Robert Design (BRD) with his co-founder, he worked in Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, transforming the homes and commercial spaces of many high-end clients. We spoke with Blaine about his brand new office, which is located at The Row in Kuala Lumpur, and how the firm aims to provide the best service to their clients.
Qanvast: Hi Blaine! Tell us about your new office and why you chose The Row in Kuala Lumpur as your new headquarters?
Blaine Robert (BR): Choosing the right location was critical because it helps with the image we’re projecting as a company. After spending an enormous amount of time looking around Kuala Lumpur, primarily in the city centre, we decided to open our new office space in the vibrant and rather up and coming area of The Row along Jalan Doraisamy.
This particular area had a bit of a past 10 years ago, with the introduction of the pub and club scene called the Heritage Row. Unfortunately, due to poor planning and licensing, the area quickly became undesirable. Over the next few years, a Singaporean developer saw the potential in this area and completely refurbed the old colonial-styled shop lots to breathe new life into the area and create a youthful and vibrant space that could be added to the Kuala Lumpur scene.
BRD was one of the first commercial properties to benefit from the newly redeveloped area. We initially rented one of the smaller units, but as our company grew, we realised that a larger space of 6000 sqft would be required for us to move forward and better serve our clients and staff. So, we relocated to a more centrally located office unit within The Row.
Q: What was the design concept chosen for this office space?
BR: As the office is located in a heritage zone with colonial-style shoplots, we went with a clean, inviting and rather industrial design concept. To achieve the look, we used exposed ceilings, cemented floors, and brick walls to highlight and retain some of the building’s old world charm.
We also chose an open-plan office environment. This is important for our business model because it promotes discussion among our team members. Given the team's diversity of cultures and backgrounds, such interaction frequently results in ideas we'd never be able to get from reading books or the internet.
Furthermore, humans are social creatures and interaction with others definitely helps with our team’s mental well-being.
Q: What can homeowners expect when they come to your office?
BR: As home renovation is an expensive endeavor, we ensure that our business is transparent for our clients in order to instill trust between both parties. First of all, our clients will be given a tour of our office as well as an introduction to the people who work in our office in order to establish a clear understanding of trust and integrity.
After the tour, we will take them to a private room where clients can discuss their home design with our interior designers in a more quiet environment.
We also have a designated area specifically for material selection. This is a special room where clients can sample and touch the materials themselves, and our representative will explain each of these materials to the clients so that they can make more informed decisions.
Q: Given the size of your team, your firm must have a large number of clients. How many projects can BRD handle at once?
BR: For a successful project outcome there are a number of processes - from design, technical, costing, to execution - involved. Because of our staff strength and because each department is dedicated to their own expertise, we are able to manage more than 10 projects at a time.
Q: How would you describe your company’s culture?
BR: Corporate culture is always determined by the attitudes of upper management and I am very proud to say that Blaine Robert Design is a multicultural organisation which comprises Indians, Malays and Chinese. Many of our accomplishments can be attributed to our multicultural environment. We work together, eat together and at times cry together.
Business is business, but I must say that we are more like a family because we understand that getting the best out of everyone starts with giving the best to everyone!
Q: What is your firm’s philosophy in designing spaces?
- Vision - To create a space and environment that brings love and joy into our clients' lives.
- Mission - To bring the highest quality materials, concern and attention on board in order to inspire happiness and well-being.
- Philosophy - To create a sense of freedom through design
Q: What are Blaine Robert Design’s plans for the near future? Do you have any exciting things planned?
BR: In Jan 2023, we made the decision to take the Blaine Robert Design brand to Dubai. We are particularly excited to work with our partners there and establish a presence in Dubai that reflects the style and quality standards that we have learned and established here in Malaysia.
We also intend to expand our presence in India beginning in 2024, and we will continue to explore this possibility and properly plan to establish the brand regionally as we move forward.
Q: Last but not least, tell us why homeowners should choose to renovate with your firm?
BR: I personally believe that the ability to establish a relationship of trust and integrity with each and every potential client is the reason why they should choose to work with us.
Whenever meeting a new client, it is never about presenting an invoice for payment. I make it very clear from the start that an initial meeting is for the designers to clearly understand what the clients want. More importantly, it is an opportunity for clients to see if the designer can catch their vision, and for both parties to establish rapport - something that always helps in a smooth renovation.
In any business, when you work with people you like, you can work through the problems as friends and float in the light of the success together. I don’t think anyone could disagree with me when I say that when you like someone, you will try harder to please and meet the person’s expectations. This philosophy seldom leads you down the wrong path and almost always results in a satisfied client who becomes a friend for life!
See more of Blaine Robert Design’s projects and reviews here.
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