Designer In Profile: David I Tay, Principal of ETHOSpace Pte. Ltd

Name: David I Tay

Company: ETHOSpace Pte. Ltd

Position within company: PrincipalDavid I Tay photo

Website: ETHOSpace


. How would you describe your personal design style?

I am only as good as my collaboration with our colleagues, clients and all engaged in processes that bring out the finest of parts that contribute to the sum total of a greater whole. By being engaged thus, we become more listening as to how we can approach each design challenge and never stray from this belief that we are not God’s gift to the clients we are blessed with but is being entrusted for a creative function with our gift of creativity.

In doing so, I learn to pursue a new perspective where I seek not clear definitions in look and feel from elements of design, but to endeavour to establish what Lars Spuybroek describes as a New Poesis of Form.
For the various design themes, as an aspirational analogy as to what we are seeking, perhaps we should no longer just look at objects, whether static or moving, but at movement as it passes through the object. When as designers and artists, we used to be obsessed with the cube and the sphere; now should we become as obsessed with a cloud or a flock or with the substance and surface of water?

So for me, should there be a personal style? Or any style that will be as personable in delighting the client, the people around us supporting our design processes and ourselves as, together, we master, serve and grow?

. Where does your design inspiration come from?

From many different and sometimes even the most unlikely situations like even from a minor fall when being careless with after-thoughts spiralling as to how blessed I was not to have been more hurt and then as suddenly, in getting up, I may see a tree in the distance with a delicate branch in a form I could visualise as a specific expression at a reception counter of a gallery I may be designing.

But some of my most inspirational moments, more often than never, come from time taken in being still in the sacred silence of my daily morning walks with my God a time to listen to an inner voice that seeks Truth as to where our design directions should be orientated other than myself if that has become a moment to think through my work.


. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

I can’t speak for all in my profession. But for us in ETHOSpace, ours should be gravitating towards seeking to express for each project a story evolving around a Poetics of Space spun from threads skilfully woven by hands from passionate souls inspired by a fusion of positive energy that brings out the finest in us.
For example, for a residential development in Mumbai, in seeking elegance coupled with a quiet eloquent wit that refine a lifestyle made gentler in an urban jungle, we endeavour to project “Seasons” being expressive of a home and not a house – a home inspiring a kaleidoscope of cherished emotions woven into the spaces being prepared for the owner, not of a house, but a home a space that we believe the potential residents can identify with as “MY SPACE” and even if the resident is away on travel for leisure or business, with him will be carried his home at the Seasons in his mind.
In essence, even in design elements, this project is not just about endeavouring to bring out design reflective of good taste and elegance or stylish understatements in design. It’s about good taste and stylish quiet understatements that are not only affordable and available but can be identified from many an inspiring personal story collected over time from each guest who visit the Lifestyle Gallery and the Show Suite themed “My Space” on the 2nd floor.
Each corner of this privileged Lifestyle Gallery evolves around each space being designed to reflect not just an interior design plan predicated on function but an expression of spatial experience. Each part transcends design elements manifesting look and feel. Personable concepts are encouraged to be inspired from the different viewers, to each their own perception of the space related to their individual personal experiences. All elements and feelings ease into a rhythm expressive of each space orchestrated within a symphonic composition as to how space as a home in each their minds can be appreciated.
In close collaboration with Rustomjee’s project and marketing team, we have, in essence, endeavoured to craft the experiential within each design process.


. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.
In approaching this question by getting to one of the most basics in design, the design elements in context of look and feel, for me, should there be anything more for us at ETHOSpace to say in respect of the quality of design statements to the discerning eye than just look and feel in arriving at key themes when approaching design in 2017 and beyond?
What about look and feel beyond the appreciation of forms and surfaces to the discerning eye – Like a look and feel that embrace within the envelope of design processes a reaching out for the 5 senses and the even the 6th sense of inner sight in context of the questioning spirit in us?  In ETHOSpace, this we fondly call in our design processes “The-Thought-Before-Form” as it progresses to “Thought to Form”.


. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
In ETHOSpace, we train our designers to perceive space not measured by area, but by the quality of life that it can contain that will appeal to the mind in pursuit of poetics of space that transcends function.
Eg. In a Show Suite, do we need a complete expression of table art within a setting for 8 diners or just a simple but elegant setting for two to romance a young couple who has chosen the right apartment as to where they intend to share their dreams? That being the case, isn’t a sensitive approach with an exquisite but simple table art that demonstrates a passion to how they can see their 1st romantic Valentine dinner in their new place more appropriate?
Perceiving space measured not by area but by the quality of life today that appeal to the mind in pursuit of design themes in any type of works from homes to working spaces, from commercial assignments to hotel projects, from galleries and exhibitions to even museums is our way of seeking truth in our professional seeking.
In essence, in design elements, should we perceive space as just being reflective of good taste and elegance or stylish understatements in design?
Or should we be also considerate by appreciating the nobler need, in the awareness that we are living not as an island, by considering also initiatives with the opportunities given to pace our design thoughts alongside community values as we give as much thoughts to good taste and stylish quiet understatements?
How do we do that, for example? Can we consider also that good taste can also be affordable and available in selective endeavours as we live our profession?

Nothing also can be more delightful in the process of getting to the finishing of a piece of work than a close collaboration with client, staff, and even the supportive vendors and contractors as we complement each other in a sharing of knowledge, skills and resources to craft an experiential and fulfilling experience together within each design process.


. How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
More fulfilling will be the achievement that can be extended as inspiration to the younger generations who has chosen design and art as a profession that all is possible even from the humblest of beginnings as in my case. But there is no short cut to Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hrs”.  I am just moving into my 3rd or 4th 10,000 hrs in my reaching out for the next level of my vocation and I am never more invigorated in the process.


. What projects are you currently working on?

A selective collection of hotel, retail, commercial and residential developments and that to me is the most rewarding from what we are blessed with if we appreciate that from our work, no matter how old, skilful or experienced, there is no end to learning to grow as we master and serve our goals in our profession

– to enjoy growing as not specialists in specific areas of work but to grow as specialists in the art of design.


. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

To prepare my colleagues to live the dreams my departed wife and I had started with.


. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?

A renewed spirit instilled by a growing awareness of the need to master, serve, and grow.


Your favourite holiday destination?

Wherever I can never stop learning in my desire to live life the way I have described above.


Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
Where I can feel my home away from home;  any fine Japanese Restaurant expressive of all I can feel from a fusion of “Wabi and Sabi” in context of its relationship with so many aspirations I can identify with; and a bar ? Alone by myself enjoying my favourite music in the intimacy of my own space with sake.


Your favourite book / film / song?

“The Chinese 3 Kingdoms,” an old classic revealed to me by my mother, “The Chariots of Fire” which I can watch over and over again and still discover one virtue in living life fulfilled after another and Chopin’s Etude Op.25 No.1 “Aeolian Harp” by Horowitz because it is so expressive of many things I believe in as an Asian.


Your favourite food and drink?

Food where I can return to my roots that are ingrained in the finest in culinary arts in Singapore’s local food heritage and the pairing of the right drink with each meal be it local tea, wine or even sake.


Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? 

To be blessed with exercising with thoughts from reading, writing, or even watching a good movie and sharing experiences with a close companion.


If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

Never thought of it since I have never felt that my life was anything but what was blessed to be the way it is by grace.


Anything else interesting?
Imagine it is raining. I am on an open balcony and the rain is just inches away. Yet I am beyond the reach of its drizzle.
At that point of “precious refuge,” we in ETHOSpace calls it endearingly, “The Poetics of Space.”