The interior design business in a changing world: What’s next?

Respected names in the industry came together to discuss the factors shaping the business of interior design at a recent Lookbox Living x King Living design conversation. Here’s what they had to say.

  • The interior design business in a changing world: What’s next?

Text by Janice Seow

It may be time to buckle your seats, because ready or not, we’ve entered an age of great and rapid change. Advances in technology, artificial intelligence and an increasing fragile world are reshaping many facets of life, including the nature of businesses and jobs.

In a timely Lookbox Living x King Living design conversation titled “How to Supercharge your Interior Design Business in this Changing World” that was held recently at the King Living Kallang Showroom, experts shared a range of experiences and views, and weighed in on the future of the business.

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Over 50 designers attended the Lookbox Living x King Living event

The speaking panel included Nikki Hunt, principal of Design Intervention; Wong Ker How, founding partner of ASOLIDPLAN; and Tung Ching Yew, managing director of Spirit of Design Analogy (SODA) and president of the Society of Interior Designers Singapore (SIDS). The session was moderated by Janice Seow, editor of Lookbox Living, and was attended by over 50 interior designers.

Here are some highlights from that panel discussion.

The designer’s place in a world of Artificial Intelligence

One of the first areas of discussion was not surprisingly about the transformative role of AI on the business of design. All the panelists agreed that AI was indeed a useful and powerful tool to aid creative processes and to design better and more efficiently.

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From left: Janice Seow (Lookbox Living), Nikki Hunt (Design Intervention), Wong Ker How (ASOLIDPLAN), Tung Ching Yew (SODA & SIDS), Lim Pui Yen (King Living), Tinaga Angkasa (O’lief) and Karmen Lee (Lookbox Living)

With AI offering super intelligence and impacting many job skills, one question posed was about the human (and designer’s) place in this advanced age of tech. Tung Ching Yew of SODA stated that in a world where many things can be automated, the human touch and interaction makes the difference, and EI or emotional intelligence becomes key. He explained: “I think that through the lens of a spatial designer, you can see EI as a service. I think of it as how we can address the pain points of the end users, and how design can then actually be used to help to elevate or resolve this pain points.”

Neuroscience and what it means for interior design

Besides the discussion on AI, Nikki Hunt of Design Intervention spoke about advances in neuroscience, and how whole new studies have shown the ways in which the built environment affects people on a hormonal and physical level. She said: “Now the brain can be mapped in a neuroscience lab and show in live time, how we react to a space, and how colour or texture causes us to secrete different hormones.

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Ili Ibrahim, King Living Regional Retail Manager for South East Asia, sharing about King’s trade and commercial programme and how it benefits designers and their clients

I think we’re at that pivotal moment where people realise that design can actually help us live better, live longer, live healthier. And as that realisation sets in, it makes design far more effective than it ever was before.”

Nurturing the Gen Z workforce, and mentorship

How should companies engage with the incoming Gen Z workforce? According to Wong Ker How of ASOLIDPLAN, Gen Zs have short attention spans and quick engagement as well as visual communication were key in connecting with this group.

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Lim Pui Yen, King Living Regional Marketing Manager, giving her closing remarks

That discussion led on to the topic of mentorship, which Ker How said was important to help support individuals and teams. “In a studio, everyone’s running around to site or meeting clients, so the in-house mentorship is very much reduced. And when the young graduates come out to work, they really have to figure things out for themselves. In our office, we’ve tried to overcome this with a buddy system, so staff each have a buddy, and is also paired with one of the partners of the firm.”

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Backed by a 25-year warranty on its steel frames, King Living sofas are built to outlast and outperform any ordinary sofa

SIDS and industry support

Towards the end of the talk, Ching Yew, who is also the president of SIDS, highlighted three ways in which the organisation aimed to support and champion the interior design industry in these unique times. The first was professional recognition through an awards programme, the second was trade credibility through an accreditation scheme, and the third was international partnerships that would give firms more opportunities to venture into overseas markets.

Guests testing out all the wonderful features of the King Cloud V

Following the stimulating and lively discussion, guests got to mingle over great food and wine, and explore the different King Living furniture collections across two levels in the Kallang showroom.

Discover the exceptional craftsmanship and flexible modular designs of King Living at their showrooms in Kallang and Alexandra, or visit to browse through the collections online.

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