Hi! Nice to meet you Afizah. We’ve talked to a lot of people about creativity and imagination in Brunei, which I suppose is not very different from anywhere else in the world but what does that mean to you as a local interior designer? How does that come into your career as well?
I work for Eco Bumi Architect, which is an architecture firm. We’ve recently opened up a sister company in interior design and we’re very new, about two years old so we just started doing our biggest project- the Progresif headquarters. Creativity really is a huge part of what we do because it’s not about just coming up with the ideas that are in your head but it’s also trying to implement your client’s ideas into a solution for your design. I think that’s what makes every single project very different because each client has different ideas so we need to fit them into an outcome that they are very happy with and to provide solutions to the type of designs that they want.
Actually in uni it was really tough; I didn’t actually know I wanted to do interior design until I applied for school. So I guess being in that environment where everyone else is very creative and they’ve got attachment jobs here and there, so they’re already professional in that sense, whereas I had no clue as to what I was doing.
How did you realise that you wanted to do Interior Design?
I knew I wanted to do something in design; there’s so many areas like product design, landscape design a lot of ranges. So eventually I went for Interior Design and completely enjoyed it; it was a lot of struggle in the beginning but as I learned how these spaces work, how innovative you can be, I think I enjoyed it a lot more.
And I guess that fulfills your need to be creative?
What are you noticing here in Brunei, that’s trending in the interior design field in terms of ideas?
I think right now, a lot of industrial designs are very trendy, that kind of raw, rustic design but I also think that there is a shift now that is changing towards a lot of DIY designs and that’s really interesting because we try to implement all these designs but we also don’t want to make it look like every single café in town. We do try to bring [new] things in but I guess what we can do is just take snippets from areas that we like. But I see now that the Bruneian sense of Interior Design. we’re not so limited by that and we create our designs however we want, and how we want to execute them.
How would you define ‘contemporary Bruneian’ as a style then?
A lot of our designs are inspired by what we see over the internet, or when we go traveling, so we’re trying to bring that in and fit that into… I mean we’ve got Islamic design and some of these Bruneian patterns that make local designs very different from what we see overseas. I think that’s really interesting on our part because we get to play with the more modern, I guess you could say Westernized [aspects] but also blend in our Bruneian culture into it.
And by that you mean Islamic motifs and stuff like that.
As a designer, where or what do you get your inspiration from? What inspires you to be more imaginative and creative?
Seeing ways in which we can improve spaces. So it’s not just about making something look good but to make things very functional and also I guess, practical. A lot of our designs try to be more towards ‘Multi-functional’ actually; say you’ve got a space, maybe a room that can evolve into many different rooms or a room with many different functions.
So are there any projects either past or in the future, that you’re particularly excited about sharing?
We’ve done a few [projects] for private companies over the past two years, but we’ve just completed the Progresif headquarters which is something we’re really excited to show everyone because a lot of the ideas came from their team as well and trying to implement it into reality has been a big challenge but a fun one.
What can we expect? Are we looking at the next Google office here in Brunei?
Uhm, probably not on par with Google’s office just yet [laughing], but I guess along those lines. We were trying to go that way but also keep Progresif’s style, that open concept. I think they’re leaning more towards that environment now anyway in their office spaces.
Is it hard to be openly creative as a designer in Brunei?
I don’t think so but I guess the only thing that limits us is the type of materials we try to get in Brunei. So a lot of stuff we can’t find in Brunei has to be ordered from overseas; that’s the only challenge we really face. We do have to outsource them from overseas and it does take time for them to bring it in.
Being progressive is constantly trying to find solutions and trying to be different. In terms of Interior Design, I guess trying to find ways of improving people’s lifestyles in the environment that we create for them.
We have to take time to study the materials very carefully, see if they are worth getting, if that works well with our design. If you had them all in town. I guess it’d be easier to play around with and explore because you can actually go see and feel the materials. Which is important when you’re creating a space.
What are your thoughts on creativity/imagination as the next most important skill for the future generation of jobseekers?
I think creativity gives you a lot of opportunities to explore- not just everyday office work. I think it pushes you to a limit where you have to go out and explore other things. Try to implement it into the country or your life. Just simple everyday things to improve your lifestyle too. So I do believe creativity is a very important thing for everybody to have. I don’t think it’s something so much that you are taught, but more of something you need to explore because different people see things in different perspectives. I believe everyone is creative in their own ways which is good because you always see the old and new.