In an industry that is mostly filled with experienced veterans, it’s not every day that you meet a local design firm comprised solely of young faces. That said, age is not the only reason why this budding team of creatives stands out from the crowd.
(From left to right, Janice Wu, Cecil Oh, Anson Tan, and Jem Wong)
Despite her relative youth, founder and Head Designer Cecil Oh, who just turned 28 this year, has chalked up over 8 years of experience building homes for clients both young and old. She is joined by Senior Design Consultant Janice Wu, 30, along with two other designers (Anson Tan and Jem Wong) to form The Makers Design Studio, a modest team of four.
Their goal? “We want to create homes, not houses,” says Cecil. “And to do it in a manner that approaches design from a fresh perspective.”
To find out more about what goes on behind the scenes at The Makers, we sat down with Cecil and Janice for a quick interview. Read on for the highlights!
Qanvast: Could you tell us about how The Makers came to be?
Cecil (C): The main reason why we started The Makers was to pursue our design ambitions together as a team of likeminded individuals. We also saw this as an opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and to strike out on our own.
While working at my previous firm, I have had clients ask me if I would ever consider striking out on my own – that was when I realised that there was not only an entrepreneurial opportunity ahead, but also a chance to pursue my creative vision with greater freedom.
Qanvast: So, what is the team at The Makers like?
C: The headcount at The Makers is quite small, the team consists of four people in total, including myself, Janice and two of our friends. But it’s also what makes us a close-knit team, despite each of us being individuals with different strengths and interests.
Janice (J): Actually, even though we try to pursue an underlying aesthetic of minimalism here at The Makers, we each have a style that we prefer when it comes to designing homes. Personally, I am a big fan of colour, the more vibrant the better! [laughs]
Qanvast: How does the creative process at The Makers work?
C: Like Janice said, each of us has his/her own way of approaching interior design, but it seldom results in creative conflict, mostly because it’s the homeowners who have the final say. Our priority is to step into the shoes of our clients first, before deciding who among us is best suited to tackle the job.
J: Another thing that differentiates the work process here is that the team takes part in every project together, which is something that is seldom heard of. In larger companies, designers rarely collaborate, much less sit down for brainstorming sessions together.
Qanvast: What drove you to pursue this line of work?
C: The biggest driver for me is definitely the satisfaction that I get when I have a happy customer. That, and seeing the completed results of a project that the team has worked so hard on.
J: There’s also the joy of being able to learn something every day. In this line, there is always a constant stream of new materials, design trends and people to meet, and that is something which really excites me.
Qanvast: Tell us about your very first project. Were there any lessons that you learnt from it?
C: To be honest, my very first project was a disaster, but it was also a learning experience that has stuck with me till this day. It taught me the importance of managing project timelines closely and that no detail is too small to overlook, especially when it comes to electrical works.
Qanvast: Tell us more about the projects that The Makers has completed thus far.
C: I really like the work that we did for the Bukit Batok project. While we were asked by the owners to transform their flat into a contemporary space, they also wanted it to be a comfortable living environment for their pet Maltese. So, one of the things that we did was to build a dog flap into the side of a bookcase, which would allow it to freely enter and exit the owners’ bedroom.
J: There’s also the four-bedder at Pasir Ris that we finished within a month. Everything had to be completed according to a very tight timeline, including the ceiling works, carpentry and painting. We also helped to source for the fittings and furniture, such as the cushions, curtains and lights.
Qanvast: Based on your experience, do you see any differences between working with old and young homeowners?
C: Off the bat, I can safely say that younger owners in Singapore are more detail-orientated and precise when renovating their homes. However, it’s often the older clients who have a better idea of what they want their homes to look like. Maybe it’s because they have travelled more or have done their homework beforehand? I don’t have a solid answer to this yet. [laughs]
Qanvast: Last but not least, what does the future hold for The Makers?
C: Definitely more work! We look forward to challenging ourselves and developing our skills while on the job, especially our ability to create homes that are uniquely tailored for our clients.
Browse The Makers Design's portfolio here!