He visited Singapore for a research project on furniture manufacturing but ended up joining — and winning — furniture design competitions here. Eager to explore new opportunities, the Melbourne- born designer moved here and set up shop.
Drawing on his experience working with Patricia Urquiola and Naoto Fukasawa, Lim rolled out the Hi Ho (pictured here), a traditional rocking horse he stripped down to its most basic elements, and that was acquired by Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria in 2015. A mini version of the toy is available from Hinika, Lim’s own collection.
Your Shifu de Sacco was among the top three winners at a design competition by W.Atelier and Zanotta to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Sacco bean bag chair.
The theme was “Urban Living the Asian Way” so I wanted to highlight a common experience across the region. I was inspired by taxi drivers and their wooden-bead car seats — most people in Asia would have seen one at some point. The beads supposedly ease tension on the back. I learnt to weave the beads together by watching lots of YouTube videos, then stitched them onto the bean bag.
Do you use your own designs at home?
Yes, I use the first prototypes of my older designs such as dining table, stools and drawers at home. Several years ago, my wife’s friend visited and asked to buy some of the items! I’m re-designing my home and building new furniture such as a loft bed, dining table and sofa. Maybe there’ll be time to renovate the kitchen and bathrooms next year.
How much does good function matter to good design?
We like to believe that every decision we make is rational but that’s not the case. Function is imperative but design inevitably involves emotion. Take the chair for example. Once it has been ascertained to function well, we start to determine the value of its design. Then, we may prefer wood over plastic, or one shape over another. That’s when we start to rationalise our decision.
You have described creativity as a process of “taking the old and familiar into new unexpected directions”.
I try to be open to possibilities. I often get new ideas for one design while working on another, so running several projects simultaneously helps my design process. That’s why I also do interiors, exhibitions and even corporate branding.
Are you creative when you are not working?
I don’t think so. My life is quite simple and can even be described as regimented. I like it this way because it helps remove redundant, annoying decisions. I belong to the same tribe as Mark Zuckerberg — I wear a black T-shirt with black jeans every day. And I can eat chicken rice from the same hawker stall every day!
Read more about Singapore’s other creative minds here.
This story first appeared in the September issue of A.