As Interior Design Principal at HASSELL Singapore, Tanya Suvannapong has helped corporate giants set up camp in the city writes Iliyas Ong.
30 July, 2014
Tanya Suvannapong serves as Ambassador of Singapore Indesign 2014. The Interior Design Principal of HASSELL Singapore is already very familiar with the event, with HASSELL having partnered with exhibitor BW Furniture and LASALLE College of the Arts on The Project in our very first Saturday in Design event (as it was previously known) in 2011. In this interview, the designer tells us more about her projects and goals for HASSELL’s Singapore studio
Four years in Singapore has now led Tanya Suvannapong to announce the city as the regional front-runner in workplace design. The Principal of the interior design department at HASSELL’s Singapore studio believes that the market here is more mature, receptive and innovative than other Southeast Asian cities.
Suvannapong admits that this is quite different from Bangkok, where she spent a decade at the HASSELL Thailand studio. “It’s enjoyable learning about this new market and the new clients,” the 45-year-old says. “Singapore is a very unique market, and you get to work on interesting projects because clients are more aware of technology and workplace trends. And they appreciate good design.”
For example, the recently completed Credit Suisse office in Changi became the first of the bank’s workplaces outside of Europe to adopt its Smart Working programme. Smart Working emphasises the agile nature of work; employees can choose to set themselves up in a variety of settings wherever they feel will be most productive.
But while Smart Working was devised in Credit Suisse’s Zurich headquarters, its translation into the Singaporean context was entrusted to HASSELL. As Suvannapong explains, offering bleeding-edge design with a local context was one of the key strategies to entrench the studio as a major industry player. “When we established the Singapore studio, it was more about HASSELL being able to demonstrate that we can offer clients a tailored way of working with them,” she adds.
Therefore Suvannapong says identifying Singapore’s “unique culture” and incorporating it into a design was imperative. “So for the Credit Suisse office, we borrowed inspiration from local neighbourhoods. Each ‘neighbourhood’ in the workplace has been assigned a distinct personality, and there are even shared dining facilities that mimic the bustle of a hawker centre.”
Besides workplaces, Suvannapong’s focus is also on education and hospitality, the latter of which she is still trying to “push further”. She is currently working on the Singapore Management University library, building from the education projects she has completed in Australia. “We want to leverage that Australian expertise and knowledge to offer similar services here,” the interior designer notes.
Which all means she has plenty of opportunities ahead – to continue building her team, expand the firm’s portfolio, and keep delivering great work. When she was based in the Thai capital, she helped to grow the studio from 19-strong to 90 within eight years. “I’d like to see if I can accomplish a similar milestone here. But maybe not that big,” she laughs. Currently, HASSELL Singapore has about 30 employees.
Embracing events such as Singapore Indesign is thus important, according to Suvannapong. “In 2010, the first year HASSELL opened its doors here, we co-created an installation for the event in collaboration with BW Furniture and students from LASALLE College of the Arts: a sculpture made from recycled cans. A light source within the sculpture cast shadows on the BW furniture, at once cohering to the event’s theme of ‘Connect’ and illuminating HASSELL’s philosophy of sustainable design.”
“It was cool to be able to work with the design school,” recalls Suvannapong. “Singapore Indesign is a ‘premium event’ for designers, and also a significant opportunity for suppliers to display their products in creative environments. And while it’s a networking session, there is still time to have some fun.”
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