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Fusing Stories into Design Solutions with IDr Lai

March 10, 2022 | Campus News

The One Academy recently held a month-long event - the Virtual International Design and Creative Masterclass which ran across three consecutive weekends and served as a platform on which we can learn from creative experts from all over the world the fields of digital animation, visual effects, illustration, interior architecture and design, as well as digital media technology.

For the interior design segment, IDr Lai Siew Hong, the Co-Founder & Chief Executive Designer of Blu Water Studio and current President of the Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) was invited to be a keynote speaker. Blu Water Studio is an award-winning boutique interior design firm which has produced innovative design solutions with recent projects including W Kuala Lumpur, EQ Kuala Lumpur, The Edison George Town Hotel and more.

His sharing ‘Cross-Cultural Inspirations in Interior Design’ took the attendees on a poetic journey on what interior designers do. IDr Lai explained that interior design is about understanding the history of the location along with the social behaviour of people and their ethnics, background and heritage. Bridging all these with culture and offer interpretation of luxury and elegance is at the heart of the industry.

“There is a story behind every design, and behind every story there is inspiration, behind every inspiration there is vision”. One of the things that set Blu Water Studio apart from the rest is their ability to craft a story based on inspiration to share and bring to life the client’s vision.

In his sharing, IDr Lai touched on how space and proportion differ among cultures, cities and countries but share similar value. “A resort lobby serves the same function but will look different across countries as local cultures influence space and proportion”. An example was how in China, large spaces are considered a luxury whereas in Malaysia, they are seen as expensive.

The industry expert also shared case studies of Blu Water’s completed projects in Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines and Kuala Lumpur. Explaining the idea and inspiration behind each and every design element, attendees got an in-depth view into the workings of a professional interior design studio’s idea and conceptualisation stage as well as finished outcome.

The Masterclass ended with a Q&A session with the attendees. Among the questions asked were tips on how to be a good designer, key trait of an interior designer and what to do when one runs out of ideas.

“The main key is passion. Passion gives us fire in anything we do”, answered IDr Lai. He said that interior design is a very artistic field, but one should not focus on how much money you are going to take home but rather how much you want to contribute to create this beautiful environment that will impact people.

Speaking on good traits of an interior designer, he said “be hardworking and someone who is very sensitive to guests’ experience and the environment. Absorb details about the environment and take it back into the design world to make it better”. He also highlighted the importance of being a good listener and understanding the client’s brief as well as the purpose behind the particular space.

The industry veteran surprised attendees when he told them he did not have Pinterest – a popular platform for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration and more.

“In terms of where to get new ideas, don’t turn to Google or Pinterest. Constantly using these platforms is super dangerous as our minds are not thinking anymore, we are merely using our eyes to scan images, pictures and elements”. Instead, he advised the audience to take a short break when facing a creative block and return with a refreshed perspective. “If you are in a room, step out or if you are facing a screen, leave it. Take a short break and return, new ideas will definitely pop up because our mind is the most powerful tool there is”.

One of the key takeaways from the session was IDr Lai Siew Hong’s favourite quote “respect the past, connect with the future”. He likens interior designers to the connecting dots of the present, linking these two elements together with inspiring design solutions. The attendees left the sharing with new found motivation to pursue their passion in the field of interior design.

The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its ‘Masters Train Masters’ coaching philosophy, which has been practised for over 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses namely Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science, Game Design and Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. For more information on The One Academy, visit or call (+603) 7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected]




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