Rather than having homeowners change the way they live, Happe Design Atelier wants to adapt interiors so that the spaces become the answers to homeowners’ needs.
Specialising in architecture, interior/ branding consulting and property servicing respectively, friends-turned-founders Choo Yih, Kelvyn and Ean couldn’t be more different. “Our skills are varied, but complementary,” shares Choo Yih. “Compliance, aesthetics, and project management – we combined our fortes to craft better, more thoughtful spaces.”
Established in 2012, the multi-faceted team at Happe Design Atelier believes it’s less about the generic labels (i.e. Scandinavian, Modern, Contemporary etc.) and more about adapting these overarching styles to suit their homeowners.
To learn more about the team’s creative process and the renovation services they offer, we sat down with the trio and got them to share their unique approaches to interior design.
Tell us more about the team behind Happe Design Atelier
Choo Yih (CY): To be honest, interior design is a multi-faceted profession. That’s why having different design backgrounds between the three of us works to our advantage.
In my case, because I specialised in architecture, I focus on the home’s design while making sure all the layout and design work is compliant/within the guidelines. And, seeing as Kelvyn and Ean came from interior/branding consulting and property servicing firms, it’s more about the aesthetics and functionality for them. There are four others in my team, each with their own expertise as well.
I’d say that teamwork is our bedrock – it is shaped by our experiences, interactions and passion for design.
Does having such a varied team impact your creative process?
Kelvyn (K): Before meeting with our clients, we take a look at the layout, and have an internal discussion. Sometimes, the external building also plays a part when it comes to the design.
CY: Take this pet shop we renovated recently – the existing building is an old condo, and its design is very art deco-esque. We decided to play off the look by using more by accentuating curves and using pops of colour.
CY: Personally, we also enjoy mixing different textures and materials – we find that this approach offers a fresh take on the more ‘tired’ styles. In fact, you can see that in our project at PLQ. Instead of using your typical mirrors or whiteboard for the menu, we used an antique mirror to introduce a vintage feel. We also give our residential projects the same treatment!
How does that creative process translate into your residential projects?
CY: It’s a slightly different process for homes – first, we get the homeowners to share Pinterest photos; these images don’t even have to be related to their renovation, just of items/things that they find aesthetically pleasing.
Ean (E): It’s through this process that we get a gist of their aesthetic. This not only helps us flesh out the concept and layout but also narrows material choices for us to include in the home.
It’s really easy to get swept away by interior trends since they’re constantly changing, but their preferred style may not always be the best fit for them. So, when homeowners come to us with a broad idea in mind, like Scandinavian, MUJI or minimalist, we introduce features that work for their lifestyle, instead of just focusing on the look.
CY: Most of our inspiration comes from the life stories of the homeowners themselves – their hobbies, pets, lifestyles, we translate all that into the space. Rather than having homeowners change the way they live because of their preferred style, we want our designs to be the answer to both their functional and design needs.
In the case of our Ang Mo Kio project, the homeowners loved having friends over, so they wanted an open space. There’s the obvious layout change – hacking down walls to join the living, dining and kitchen areas to give them a bigger space. But we also flushed all the cabinetry and integrated shelves, plus the microwave. Because of its seamless look, the flat seems that much larger, even though it’s just 67 sqm.
E: Though this might not seem like much at first, a small change in the details of the home can sometimes go the extra mile when it comes to ensuring that the home that we built suits our clients.
Say, you’re looking into getting wire mesh or perforated panels because you happened to be influenced by a café, but you can’t maintain it due to your busy lifestyle, that’s where we step in to introduce alternatives that are better catered to you.
K: Because their stories already shape the home, we’re really just ‘tools’ that the owners ‘use’ to refine their ideas.
In your opinion, what sets Happe Design Atelier apart from other interior firms?
CY: I’d say what’s most unique about Happe Design Atelier is our identity as a design studio – our designers are passionate about creating cohesive spatial experiences. While our primary aim is to realise our clients’ ideal homes, we’re also interested in changing things up to provide them a space that can be utilised to its full potential.
Of course, labels are the by-product of the design process. Although we work within the initial aesthetic, we’re also redefining the ‘established’ styles in a sense. By challenging the status quo, we’re able to deliver a greater variety of innovative interior design ideas, rather than rehashing contrived ones.
Your dream interiors edited to suit your lifestyle
The team at Happe Design Atelier will work closely with you to adapt your inspiration, no matter the concept. Paying close attention to your lifestyle, hobbies, needs and requests, the designers edit your ideas and propose alternative solutions to craft better, more thoughtful spaces that not only cater to you, but also answer your daily living needs. Drop in a request with Happe Design Atelier to get started.