Functionality, connectivity and timelessness are the three main things we always look at. Understanding the needs and lifestyle of our clients allows for a “made to measure” space.
Essential Design Integrated (EDI) likes to switch things up. Recently, when the designers were commissioned to redesign a 30-year old property in the Damansara area in Petaling Jaya, they gave the semidetached house a new lease of life by turning its front to the side, one that faces a spacious empty land. Chan Mun Inn, architect of Essential Design Integrated reveals that the homeowner wanted to transform the squalid house into a new, modern home for his family but with minimal change to the building’s original structure. He also wanted a design that would take advantage of the existing garden area. Taking these criteria into consideration, Chan and his team devised an ingenious idea: they turned the front of the house to its side. This reorientation gives the semi-detached house a bungalow like feel. “The most crucial parties involved for each of our projects are in fact we and the owner. The communication between these two has to be precise, honest and constant.
Essential Design Integrated
We will usually take the client’s brief in the very beginning of each project and formulate our own vision around the brief instead of trying to counter it,” says Chan He continues, “Our design point of view is that the house is essentially not ours. We facilitate the process of making each house more of a home than any other house for each of our clients. The rigorous interviews and discussions that we have with each of our clients involving their needs and lifestyle allow us to design a space that is ‘made to measure’ to each of our clients.” The new home is dominated by wooden elements, a nod to exclusive resorts in exotic tropical destinations frequented by the homeowner. Marble tiles in the dining area and bathroom augment the luxurious feel. The furniture used consists of neutral colours like grey and black with pops of red while soft furnishings like curtains and bedlinens in beige and taupe. Natural light pour into the home through large windows, creating a bright and airy atmosphere. The windows also offer a good view of the verdant garden. The home is, essentially, a bolt hole in the bustling city, providing repose for its occupants.
Designing this home, for Chan, however, was not a stroll in the park. One of the main challenges he faced was to retain much of the original structure, whose ceilings where low. “The original floor to ceiling height was only three metre high, which is relatively low for today’s standards. Planning of the M&E ducts, light points and the ceiling design had to be done carefully to optimise whatever height that we had,” he reveals. “Embellishments on the ceiling like pendant lamps and fans were also kept to a minimal to ‘lighten’ the feel of the ceiling and to not accentuate the ceiling’s lack of height.” If anything, the home embodies all three aspects that EDI always set out to fulfil in each of its projects. “Functionality –everything in the home serves a purpose. Connectivity – this includes circulation, lighting and ventilation. We get worried when there’s a dead end,” Chan says with a laugh. “Finally, timelessness. We prefer designs that are not flashy or too trendy, lest it becomes outdated in a short period of time. The design of each home has to work with the owner and his family for years to come and has to age gracefully.”