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These Homeowners Loved Renovating, So They Became Designers

December 10, 2018
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It’s you who knows yourself best, they say. But the fact is that you will need more than a list of wants to get your desired renovation results – and that is where Craftwerkz Interior comes into the picture.

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(From left to right, Craftwerkz Interior designers James Han and Asyiah Lee)

While they may have just started their business this year, the team behind the company has years of experience as both interior designers and homeowners, giving them unique insights into the local renovation scene.

In this edition of Designer’s Spotlight, we speak to two of Craftwerkz’s designers to find out their own experiences with the renovation industry in Singapore, their transition from clients to creators, and how it eventually led to the creation of Craftwerkz Interior.


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Qanvast: Before we begin, could you first introduce yourselves?

James (J): I am James Han, and I am a project consultant at Craftwerkz Interior. I am also one of the founders of the company.

Asyiah (A): Hello, I am Asyiah Lee and I am a senior designer at Craftwerkz.

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Qanvast: What inspired you to join this line of work?

J: It all began about 3 to 4 years ago when I bought my first home and decided to get some hands-on experience on renovation. From that point, it sparked off my interest in this industry, which then led to my decision to enter it.

I attended Building & Construction Authority (BCA) courses on public housing renovation and later joined a design firm where I started learning the ropes. The initial phase was quite tough, mostly because I had to learn nearly everything from scratch and through trial and error.

A: Basically, I like looking at nice things, such as nice homes and well-designed layouts. Usually, I take a look at at least one floor plan before I head to bed. [laughs] And that was even before I became a designer!

Eventually, because I was driving him crazy with my constant rearranging of the furniture, my husband told me to become a designer, which I did by approaching a number of companies and receiving the necessary training.

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Qanvast: What do you feel sets Craftwerkz apart from other design firms?

J: For a start, we genuinely care about our homeowners. It’s all about delivering a liveable space that they are comfortable living in. And while we will manage their expectations, the team will do their best to satisfy their needs and demands. Basically, we do our best to take care of them.

A: Also, unlike other companies where each designer works individually, we work as a team. For instance, if James is away, I am aware of what is going on at his sites. Most of the time, we would also meet homeowners together to prevent any misunderstandings or miscommunications from occurring.

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Qanvast: Could you tell us more about the roles that you play in the company?

J: For the most part, my role involves handling company operations, but I also meet clients from time-to-time, mainly to iron out the essential aspects of their renovation.

I typically spend my mornings visiting worksites to ensure that all the necessary details are in place. Then in the afternoon, I would return to the office to do some admin work. Following that, I have meetings with potential clients before preparing their quotations. It’s plenty of hard work, but it’s rewarding.

A: For myself, it’s mostly about doing floor plans, which I love. I also meet with clients to discuss their needs. Sometimes, I accompany them on their shopping trips where we will pick out materials, furniture and home accessories together.

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Qanvast: What are some of the challenges that you face daily?

J: On my end, it’s mostly about communicating ideas to the contractors who are working on-site. That’s where all our sketches and 3D drawings come in.

Another challenge that we face are last minute changes, which can be especially tough when there are tight timelines to be met.

To prevent such issues from occurring, we will bring homeowners to work sites to discuss important details, such as carpentry measurements. I also believe that discussions are the best way to solve problems as they give us a better understanding of what our clients need.

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Qanvast: Are there any design trends that you are fans of?

J: I prefer the modern luxe look over minimalist styles like Scandinavian, but at the same time I feel that it’s important to keep things balanced and not over-the-top.

A: It’s hard to pick one style because I am a fan of anything and everything that suits a space well. Form follow function, after all. But, if I had to choose, it would be an urban look featuring a palette of white, blue and marble textures. It’s opulent, but it’s subtle too.

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Qanvast: Tell us more about your latest project.

J: For our latest project, we gave a private apartment a makeover by transforming it into a bright and airy space. The owners also chose a Scandinavian theme, which we conveyed by keeping the insides of the flat simple and clean; this also helped to keep the house visually tidy as it is about the size of a 3-room HDB flat.

There were also plenty of tall storage units built into the kitchen, living room and bedrooms because of how high the ceiling is, which is close to 3m on the inside. Likewise, they help ensure the house stays neat by preventing appliances and belongings from crowding out precious counter space.

A: Also, because the owners are very into Feng Shui, we had to adapt some of the fittings and fixtures to accommodate their beliefs.

For instance, one of the things that we did was to ‘extend’ one of the main entrance’s walls by building in a bookshelf; this would allow it to block off the hob from the bedroom’s view while giving the owners to a place to display their lucky fountain.

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Qanvast: What plans do you have for Craftwerkz Interior’s future?

J: First, we intend to build our portfolio and expand the company. In addition to that we intend to abandon the package model, mostly because we wish to provide value through design and not through price alone.

We would also like to expand by opening another office, but only time will tell if we can achieve this goal.


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