When asked why he chose to set up a design boutique, Larry Lim, a former banker and now Managing Partner of Summerhaus D’zign, says that it’s because of his “love for modern luxe” – a passion that he shares with his wife, Jess Koh, who is one of the firm’s co-founders as well.
“We were in our late twenties when we first started Summerhaus D’zign in 2012. Finance was getting dry for me, so my wife and I naturally decided to capitalise on her experience as a designer – something that would also allow us to pursue the finer aspects of home design as well,” he says.
Today, Summerhaus D’zign is an accomplished boutique studio, having received multiple Asia Pacific Property Awards for its projects, and named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Names in Singapore Design by Tatler magazine in 2015. To get a better idea about what makes a successful design studio tick, we caught up with Larry himself.
(Above, Summerhaus D'zign managing partner, Larry Lim)
Qanvast: Tell us more about Summerhaus D’zign. What is the team behind the company like?
Larry (L): Including my wife and myself, we have a total of 6 people in the company. Our designers all have a background in design, and they were all chosen for their eye for detail and passion for creating stylish homes.
My wife, Jess, who is also Summerhaus’ Principal Designer, is familiar with the industry too. She has been working as an interior designer since 2003, so that’s close to 15 years of experience in the line.
Qanvast: Coming from a finance background, what made you decide to pursue a career in interior design?
L: Even though I don’t come from an artistic background and mostly handle business operations at Summerhaus, I would say that I have always had an appreciation for good design.
Back at my previous job, I was often exposed to impressive architecture and buildings, and these experiences left a deep impression on me. Because of that, one of our key aims is to bring the natural flair of these places into Singapore homes, which is why you’ll notice that our projects mostly feature modern luxe details is our way of expressing warmth and elegance.
Qanvast: Could you describe Summerhaus’ design style to us?
L: We specialise in modern-luxe, which is a very broad style or look that makes use of sophisticated design elements to create luxurious, but not over-the-top home spaces.
It’s also very flexible in the sense that modern-luxe elements can be easily integrated into other popular design styles.
For instance, in Singapore, when you talk about Scandinavian, it’s always about those few features like white brick walls and pastels, which can get boring after a while. But, by bringing in hints of luxury, you get to bring out what the Chinese call ‘da qi’ or a classy mood that isn’t showy; we want the spaces that we design to feel just like that.
Qanvast: What is the process of working with Summerhaus like?
L: I would say that it is very much quality-driven.
For example, during the planning stage, we don’t dictate the number of changes that our clients can make. But don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a case where we frequently misunderstand their design briefs, or offer unlimited design changes [laughs], but rather it’s our pursuit of excellence that drives us to do up to three or even four rounds of internal revisions to fine-tune our clients’ input, before we present our proposals for the first time.
We also strive to work closely with our customers, simply because designing a home is a personal project. How we do this is by getting their ideas and opinions, before incorporating these details into the final design.
In addition, we are also honest and transparent about our preference for projects with a modern-luxe aesthetic, which includes elements like wide-open spaces and refined textures. This approach lets us achieve a balance between customer requests and the projects that Summerhaus wishes to pursue as a boutique firm.
Qanvast: Do you have any plans to expand beyond Summerhaus’ current niche?
L: At the moment, we don’t have any solid plans to cater to a wider base or expand the range of design styles that we specialise in.
Our reason for this goes back to how Summerhaus was started as a design firm that serves as a middle ground between mid-budget companies and premium services; we see this gap as a niche to be filled, so that’s where we are and probably will be in the years to come.
Qanvast: In three words, how would you describe Summerhaus’ approach to design?
L: How about describing it in just two words? [laughs] Bespoke and novelty is how I would describe our work; bespoke because we pay close attention to our clients and their lifestyles when it comes to customising a home that suits their needs, hobbies and wants; and novelty because each project we do is unique.