Designer in Profile: Jeffrey Wilkes Principal of DESIGNWILKES SDN BHD



Position within company: PRINCIPAL


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)

1982 -Bachelor of Fine Arts  (Visual Arts) York University, Toronto, Canada
1986 -Bachelor of Applied Arts Interior Design, Ryerson School of Interior Design, Ryerson University, Toronto
1990 NCIDQ, Registered Member ARIDO (Association of Interior Designers of Ontario) Member of Interior Designers of Canada
Worked in Toronto for 6 years for Bryon Patton and Associates, specializing in Residential Housing Development
1992 HLLim & Associates Singapore
1994 Opened 1st branch office for HL Lim& Associates in Kuala Lumpur
2000 Partner  -Lim, Teo + Wilkes Designworks
Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Milan, Beijing
2010 created DESIGNWILKES Sdn Bhd Kuala Lumpur
(Left Lim,Teo +Wilkes, took over existing office in Kuala Lumpur)

How would you describe your personal interior design style?
Eclectic…I am a big fan of Mid Century Modern, Art Deco but also appreciate the intricacy of a carved Dutch colonial cabinet from Sri Lanka.  I  love to mix styles, love using colour and pattern.  Antiques in a contemporary setting and vice a versa, make for an interesting layered experience.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes from the world around me, a walk in the park in the morning, the view from a plane window.  Travel around the city, around the country and around the world will always continue to inspire me, from a natural aspect to the wonders of man- made.  Indigenous culture and crafts, folk-art are all wonderful resources that allow us to create meaningful interiors.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Interior Design is about an experience. The design movements of the 19th and 20th century all contribute to a richer more layered design.  There is openness towards history and details.  The recent has seen clean almost futuristic controlled interiors, now we delve into creative almost overdone interiors…its really about the experience. And, an instagrammable moment, which has it pluses and minuses.  A WOW factor is very important, that’s the plus side, but a timeless interior perhaps is not as popular, so finding the right balance is key.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Environmental impact.
  2. Personal space
  3. WOW factor
  4. Timelessness
  5. Social and cultural relevance

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Ensure that the space created merits repeated visits.

How important are The International Hotel & Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
The International Hotel & Property Awards is an interesting platform as it is open to all.  And it doesn’t matter so much if you win or lose, having your work out there (once you are shortlisted) allows others to see it and it gives us a sense of what is happening around the world.

What projects are you currently working on?
Currently we are working on a palace restoration in Khajuraho, India (home of the Kama Sutra temples), an urban hotel tower in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a lovely big country residence outside Geneva, A Kathmandu luxury hotel resort, Renovation of F& B outlets in Tokyo, A Club Lounge in Hong Kong, A Presidential Suite in Bangkok, a number of private residences in Malaysia, a 5-star hotel in Hyderabad and a private palace in Ahmedabad.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months? In the next 12 months, our aims & goals are to grow as designers and make lasting contributions to world around us.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your most treasured possession? Always a funny question for a designer…I have a lot of stuff. I love it all, but I can live without it…it moves through my life.  My possession is the ability to let it move…(some of more quickly than others)
Your favourite holiday destination? An Oceanside log Cabin on the Gulf Islands off the West coast of Canada
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? Hotel:  Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, as it feels like family now after so many years Restaurant: Chutney Mary, St. James’s London…we poured our all into that one, and I love the food. Bar: Any bar that serves a Classic Martini, Dry & friends with me.
Your favourite book, film & song? Book:  Terrible reader…but David Sedaris makes me laugh, Film: It’s a Wonderful Life, Song:  A Tie ,Proud Mary with Ike and Tina and  Raindrops keep falling on My Head by B.J.Thomas
Your favourite food and drink? Food: Malaysian Nasi Lemak , Drink: Classic Gin Martini, straight up with a twist!
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Combing Yard sales, Garage sales, Junk Stores, vintage furniture stores…flea markets…
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? If I weren’t a designer, I’d be banging on doors in Hollywood for a movie role or a TV show. …In my dreams!

Anything else interesting?
I love to entertain, dinners, parties, whatever.  Every meal, every meeting should be an event. I love going to the floral warehouse, filling the car, doing the flowers at home. I love my partner of 26 years, and love my family and my loyal friends.   And as RuPaul says “If you can’t love yourself, how you gonna love somebody else” so I guess I love myself too.  (although that sounds like an incredibly bold egotistical statement)