For the past 14 years, Chrisandra Heng has led SCA Design from strength to strength, building a solid portfolio of projects centred on commercial interior design and office fit-outs. Having recently been named a winner in the 2015 Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, we sit down to chat with Heng about the company’s growth and successes.
16 September, 2015
With a desire to pursue a creative field, Chrisandra Heng chose to study Interior Architecture and Design at Temasek Polytechnic. Upon graduation, she joined an international firm that focused on corporate interior design, and the experience was to prove pivotal in strengthening her passion and resolve to head down this career path.
“They [the first company I worked for] were very encouraging,” Heng recalls. “I think it’s very important to be able to work with a company that has the right culture from the very start. That’s where you start to love what you learnt in school, and put it into actual practice.”
In 2001, at just 26 years old, Heng showed her enterprising spirit when she launched her own firm, SCA Design, with a partner. The firm started with just three staff but has since built up a solid 36-member team and an award-winning portfolio of commercial interior design and office fit-out projects in Singapore. It also works on projects across the region.
In 2011, SCA Design was invited by multidisciplinary design practice ONG&ONG Group to come under the organisation’s umbrella.
“My other Director, Brendon Liu, and I decided that the merger could bring SCA Design forward,” Heng explains. While the firm now operates as a member of ONG&ONG Group, Heng shares that they are given the freedom to run independently – their office, while situated on the same floor as ONG&ONG at SLF Building, is housed completely separate and has its own bold and funky identity.
“With the blessing of ONG&ONG’s Chairman Ong Tze Boon, we were given the opportunity to run like what we are. Hence you will see that our studio environment is very different. And we have our culture of being very open with one another,” says Heng.
Apart from Heng recently being named one of the winners at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, both Heng and Director Brendon Liu also received the title of Asia’s Top Designer at the 2014 Singapore Design Awards, while SCA Design was named Asia’s Top Outstanding Enterprise that same year.
SCA Design has been responsible for delivering many bold and iconic, yet highly functional workspaces over the years. Heng says that some of the notable projects that the firm is particularly proud of include the new SGX Centre in Shenton Way, which was a 180-degree transformation from the traditional office that the client, Singapore Stock Exchange, was used to, and Leo Burnett, where the team got to exercise their creativity by building art installations for the space.
Heng stresses that SCA Design operates based on the culture of ‘team’ versus the individual, and is driven by idea that a company’s success does not rest solely on any one individual, but is led by the hard work of every single staff member. “I always believe that the dynamics of the team is the winning factor of a project. The work is not executed by one person, but involves the designers, project managers and even the in-house support, which clients don’t always get to meet. This is why we focus strongly on team building in our studio.”
This is achieved in a variety of ways according to Heng, such as through regular team bonding sessions and public announcement of staff successes. Staff welfare is also given due consideration with individuals having the flexibility to choose how they like to work.
Heng shares that the most rewarding part of her job has not been the projects, but seeing how the young designers who joined the firm “have grown and matured over the years,” and how they have embraced the company culture.
She adds that she is honoured to have received the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award. “They [the entrepreneurs] are all from different trades so it’s not like winning a design award, and I hope that this will inspire young designers to pursue a passion [and make it] a career.”
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