Interview with E Three Five from Singapore

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E Three Five

E Three Five is composed of a trio, Kaejer, Luiyen, and Baliyon. In their role as a team of designers, they have fully embraced their mission as problem solvers. They excel in tackling complex challenges and applying design thinking to create ground-breaking solutions that reshape the way people interact with each other, services, and their environments.

Interview With The 2023 MUSE Design Awards Winner – E Three Five

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

Kaejer and Luiyen: At E Three Five, we proudly serve as the Founding Partners, having both earned our Master's in Architecture from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Kaejer: I have worked in several architecture firms before founding E Three Five. I have designed a wide range of projects spanning China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, including master planning for towns, shopping centers, condominiums, institutions, urban parks, and residential houses. I am currently an adjunct tutor in Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic and American University of Phnom Penh.

Luiyen: I possess extensive experience in architecture, exhibition design, and project management. Currently, I work as an architect and have been involved in projects across Germany, China, Malaysia, and Singapore. I also have a background in teaching exhibition 3-D design at Singapore's NAFA and presently lead a team of designers and architects.

Baliyon: I serve as a design strategist, critical design thinker, and design manager at E Three Five. My journey in the field of design commenced in 2008 at Singapore Polytechnic. Guided and inspired by various mentors and tutors, I pursued my design education, culminating in my graduation from the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and the University of Glasgow (Glasgow School of Art) (UOG/GSA). I earned Bachelor's degrees in Interior Design and Design Studies with First-Class Honors.

With a rich background of professional experiences gained from various design firms, I have honed my expertise in human-centric problem-solving. My design philosophy revolves around re-imagining and reinventing design principles to align with the contemporary context and evolving circumstances.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
As a team of designers, we have embraced our roles as problem solvers. We thrive on addressing intricate challenges and utilizing design thinking to craft innovative solutions that redefine how people engage with one another, services, and their surroundings.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

E Three Five is a bespoke design firm that infuses narratives, spatial poetry and meticulous curation to each design project to foster a deeper sense of purpose and elevate the human experience that goes beyond aesthetics.

The firm specializes in residential and commercial projects, most notably Singapore’s Prime Minister’s office, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic.

4What does “design” mean to you?
In E Three Five, we believe that design goes beyond aesthetics. It is a data driven process that that propels our team to test variables and justify our findings and assumptions in our design proposals.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
In our view, there is no one-size fits all design approach. Each design should be tailored towards the unique characteristic and individuality of its end users. Our unique design process, allows us to examine our clients in detail before diagnosing the challenges we would like to address through spatial transformation.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
A good design is not only human-centric but also pushes the boundary to promote positive impacts on a societal and environmental level. It should engage the target audience emotionally and physically, tapping into the full range of human experience.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

At E Three Five, we believe that spatial design is not just about aesthetics - it's about creating meaningful and transformative spaces that resonate with the essence of those who inhabit them.

With our unique design approach, we take our clients on a journey that goes beyond the ordinary, infusing narratives, spatial poetry, and meticulous curation to craft spaces that truly inspire and elevate the human experience.

8Tell us about your design process.

E Three Five’s Design Approach

Narratives: Before the first stroke of a pen, we embark on a captivating journey of discovery, delving into the client’s lifestyle, preferences, and aspirations. By conducting lifestyle audits and fostering meaningful conversations, we understand the essence of the client’s vision. These narratives become the guiding light for the entire design process.

Spatial Transformation: We are poets of space, weaving emotions and functionality to create designs that evoke awe and wonder. Each space is meticulously planned to provide a sensory experience, a harmonious fusion of form and function. Whether it's the play of natural light or the strategic placement of elements, our designs are a celebration of spatial optimization.

Design Realization: With the narratives as our foundation and spatial transformation as our inspiration, we embark on the journey of design realization. Resource planning ensures that sustainability and eco-friendliness are at the core of our projects. Macro composition considers the overall harmony of the space, while micro curation focuses on the intricate details that add finesse and uniqueness to each creation.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
As practitioners of design in Singapore, we are a melting pot of cultures where influences from various races intertwine, creating an interesting and eclectic viewpoint that is unique to our country. This influences our belief that design is a diverse practice which can bridge across sectors, encouraging collaboration and connection with people from all walks of life.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
We are honored and humbled to have multiple winning entries in the 2023 MUSE Design Awards. These accolades serves a reminder that each design carries the potential to elevate the human spirit and foster deeper connections.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
Our project selections aim to highlight the diversity and adaptability within our team's design skillset. Whether it's institutions, student accommodation, or flagship retail stores, we excel in assisting our clients in achieving distinctive designs that enhance their brand equity.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
As large-scale projects involve multiple stakeholders, we, as creatives, serve not only as the canvas for ideas but also as key individuals responsible for managing client expectations, liaising with various suppliers, and ensuring successful project delivery with the builders.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Winning the 2023 MUSE Design Awards not only increases our firm’s recognition and credentials in the industry, it helps to boost our creative team’s morale and confidence!
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

Spatial Design is much more than the curation of interior spaces. Firstly, it aims to improve the well-being of space users.

Secondly, it harmonizes with and enhances its surroundings, and, lastly, it stands as our legacy and contribution to the betterment of Mother Earth.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
In South East Asia, where the design industry has yet to fully mature; we see young artist and designers brave the new frontiers with their creativity with the simple goal of making the world a better place. With the influence of Asia’s rich history and culture, these young talents provides fresh perspectives and dimension to the world of design.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
With the prevalent advancement of Artificial Intelligence, we envision design playing a critical role in defining how the industry will evolve and adapt by allowing AI to do the heavy lifting such as drafting and high fidelity rendering works while designers step up to direct these machines.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
We implore young talents to put their critical design thinking into practice, as these analytical skills will play an important role to shape their individuality and propel them further in their design career.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
We would recommend them to find a good mentor that could offer sound guidance while attending symposiums held by distinguished architects and designers to nourish their design knowledge.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
We are a team of six individuals with unique characters and skillsets that brings out the best of each other.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?
We are inspired by industry thought leaders, notably Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. Their philosophy and design approaches are closely studied and applied in our educational years, influencing our design foundation.
21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Our key to success is to persevere through tough times. We believe that tough times are life’s lesson to inspire us to transcend beyond our current state of mind.

Winning Entries

E Three Five

E Three Five is composed of a trio, Kaejer, Luiyen, and Baliyon. In their role as a team of designers, they have fully embraced their mission as problem solvers. They excel in tackling complex challenges and applying design thinking to create ground-breaking solutions that reshape the way people interact with each other, services, and their environments.

Read more about this interview with Xiao Yi Chen (Iris Chen) of Iris Chen Interiors International Ltd, the Platinum Winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards.