Name: Shiyi Sun
Company: JPA Design
Position within company: Lead Designer
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I’ve been working at JPA Design as Lead Designer since September 2017, though have worked as a designer in Singapore since my studies completed in the Singapore Raffles Design Institute in 2012.
Bachelor of Interior Design, 2012 – 2013
Raffles Design Institute, Singapore
Diploma of Interior Design, 2010 – 2012
Raffles Design Institute, Singapore
How would you describe your personal design style?
My heart lies with contemporary styling – the clean lines with carefully thought out details really meshes with me. And honestly, I’m a bit of a perfectionist! Very detail oriented, which I think is crucial for drawing packages and ensuring the fabricators or builders know exactly what that end product will look like. Without this level of detail, its open to interpretation – what is it they say, “the devil is in the detail”? – the control I have over a drawing package ensures a beautiful level of finishing at the end, and that’s always a wonderful feeling!
Though although my personal style lies in the contemporary, a great interior designer can interpret client’s requirements, which obviously varies from Client to Client, and location to location. And I love the opportunity I have on individual projects to create a ‘story’, a vision, or to simply reinterpret more traditional elements and bring them into our designs – this is something I love doing.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I grew up in Shanghai, though finished my education here in Singapore – both are vibrant, modern cities, which combine the old and new, both in terms of architecture as well as technology. So, I suppose I get a lot of my inspiration from what surrounds me – and Singapore is an astounding city which really pushes the boundaries of architecture and design – I think being in the heart of it really pushes me to “think outside the box”.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Though there will always be a niche for traditional palaces and hotels etc, I think we will continue to see the evolution of contemporary design, but believe that this will evolve into “contemporary comfort” – where technology is integrated seamlessly, to enhance our lives without a second thought, and where traditional cultural and architectural elements are reinterpreted – reimagined, to ensure we retain the understanding of where we came from. The world is a much smaller place these days, so if I’m in a hotel room in China, I want my little touches of my surroundings to embrace this – somewhere that gives me a ‘sense of place’…
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2019 and beyond.
Based on my experience, modern, Scandinavian, minimalist, and retro designs are all still very popular, with the added botanical theme really surfacing, and I think this will continue to grow; though with technological advancements really becoming a backbone of how spaces move forward.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
I think it’s imperative to know your market – you must know WHO you are designing for: this is obvious when thinking of an individual Residential Client, who’s home you are designing – you need to know what they like and don’t like, how they live, how they will use the spaces etc. but this equally applies to Commercial / Hospitality clients – your target market must be understood: are you designing for the Chinese market or the American? What Local Cultures or influences need to be understood? Where is your project – what is its geography and even climate? All of these answers will affect space-planning, choice in materials and finishes, how much technology needs to be integrated etc. – it all comes back to knowing the market – knowing WHO you’re designing for.
How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
Awards such as the International Design & Architecture Awards are inspirational for the design market – I love seeing what other designers are working on, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of healthy competition! Designers are inspired by what they see, and what surrounds them – I don’t know anyone in my team who doesn’t look at the finishing or the detailing of an interior space, be it something they designed or something designed by others, and think to themselves: “how can I make that look even better?” … we’re constantly striving to enhance the experience, and awards such as this offer Designers a global insight into what others are doing…let the inspiration continue!
What projects are you currently working on?
JPA Design have studios in London and Dubai, as well as the Singapore studio – our London team has always been the stronghold for the design of all our aviation and luxury rail projects – their talent and wealth of experience with product design, and designing well-thought-out smart-solutions for small spaces is something that the hotel industry is now embracing. As such, I recently spent some time in the London Studio learning about the aviation and rail approach to design, to see how we can integrate these elements into hotel spaces.
My experience there has really helped drive the JPA Singapore team’s breadth of knowledge in the prefabricated market in the Asia Pacific region – though this is very much catered to the 5* luxury market, rather than what someone typically thinks of when they hear “pre-fabricated” – which I think inspires thoughts of flat-packed chipboard furniture – which is definitely NOT what we do!
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Well, complete the next project that I know will win the International Design & Architecture Awards, of course!
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your favourite holiday destination?
Europe is definitely on my list – though I’ve not had the opportunity to
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
Bvlgari hotel in Beijing is my current favourite, though the list constantly evolves! But I love the guestroom vibe in here – what one would deem “luxury residential” – it really does feel like you’re staying in a beautiful home, which is how I prefer hotels to feel – like a “home-away-from-home”.
Your favourite book, film & song?
I’m currently making quick-work of Jeffrey Archer’s Kane & Abel, which I’m loving – an “oldie but a goodie”! He’s a classic story-teller and I love being able to escape into a good book!
Probably on the other end of the spectrum, I’m also enjoying Billions on Netflix – a drama about power politics in NY’s high finance.
Your favourite food and drink?
I’m loving Bubble Tea at the moment – it’s a Taiwanese tea-based drink which has tapioca pearls in it, but there are hundreds of recipes – using different flavours of tea, with or without milk, ice-blended versions, fruity & colourful concoctions – usually with inspiring names! My current favourite is “mermaids tears” which is a beautiful pastel ombre colour using blue butterfly pea pearls, honey, lemon, milk and mango – giving it a light and zesty flavour – much like a lemon mango sherbet!
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
I love discovering new architecture, so perhaps a lazy stroll around an area I haven’t been to, getting inspired by the sights around me.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Design is in my bones – I can’t imagine doing anything that’s not creative – whether it were product design or interior design – I’d need to be using the right side of my brain!