Destined by design

YEW Kai Leong had always wanted to be a chef since he was a kid, but things took a turn as he studied interior architecture and design instead; a decision that augured well for the 26-year-old.

More well-known as Viinc Yew, he founded his own firm, Viinc Studio Sdn Bhd and is also currently a full-time lecturer at The One Academy. Among his greatest accomplishments include winning "Malaysia Top 10 Outstanding Creative Youth Award" in 2016 and being commended by the Hertfordshire Architecture Association of UK.

"I was a naughty kid. I always got penalised and was nearly expelled from school, but I am lucky to have mentors who influenced me to be who I am today. I believe none of my friends and family would have thought I could be a lecturer today," he mused.

But how does an interior architect differ from an interior designer? Yew explained that an interior architect can design the interior space as well as the building, while an interior designer plans and designs interior space in a built environment.

He said he loves interior architecture and design as he believes the environment and the cosiness of a space can affect anyone in it.

"A comfortable space can help its users whether it is for work, play or rest to achieve better experience and results. I am excited I am the one who makes this 'magic' happen," he said.

At which point in life did you begin to have an interest in interior architecture?

After graduating from high school, my mum didn't want me to be a chef and so, I was wondering what major I should take. At that time, we were renovating our new house and I got to design my own bedroom; that was how I got into it. I found that it is really fun when I am able to make something different to enhance the space.

Where do you draw inspiration and ideas for your work?

By travelling and reading. I love reading design-related magazines and books, and studying the latest design trends and technologies available. I travel to explore different cultures and lifestyles, and learn details that are designed to fit different needs and make life easier. As an interior architect, I have to design space that can enhance my clients' experience, besides making it beautiful.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?

The biggest challenge is having to solve different problems for different people due to different preferences and different methods. Each design cannot be repeated because they are all tailor-made to specific clients. ​

How do you ensure your designs would appeal to your clients?

By understanding that interior design is not only about creating beautiful spaces, it's more about problem-solving with creative and beautiful ideas. Before I get started with a design, I always communicate with my clients to understand their daily lifestyle, habits, needs, preferences and problems encountered.

Give us some tips on interior design.

If you're renovating a house or commercial space and you're looking for a designer, the most important factor is picking a suitable designer. There are many designers out there and all of them have different strengths. Get one who speaks the same language, one who knows what you want and have the similar perspectives as you do.

If you are doing it on your own, a nice set of curtains is really important for the house while for commercial spaces, the right mood is crucial to match the products you are selling.

Tell us about the project you're currently working on.

My team and I are currently developing a few mid-century bungalows into luxurious Nordic homes. It's really interesting to play around with old-meets-new materials. We're also developing a new furniture brand to be launched in Vietnam by year-end.

What kind of places do you usually travel to?

I don't really like tourist spots so I usually ask the locals for recommendations. I research before travelling, from social media to travel guides, to find interesting places to go. I love walking the streets or alleys because that is the best way to experience like a local and learn the culture.

Do you still cook?

Yes, about three to four times a week. I like to try out different recipes. I like a clean diet and I like to make workout meals delicious.