Interview with Stan Tham from Singapore

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May 22, 2023
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May 23, 2023

Stan Tham

Stan Tham is a self-taught designer that learned the craft of designing by observing what the cream of the crop in the industry does which lead him to open his very own design studio with his partner, Kusnin Tan.

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Design Awards Winner - Stan Tham

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.
I am a self-taught designer who did not go through any formal design training as most designers did. I learnt the craft of design step by step, by studying what the best of the industry are doing, and eventually set up my own design studio with my partner Kusnin Tan.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
Interior design is the only profession in which you can help people engage and interact with the spaces they are in at any moment, and I enjoy being that person who makes it happen.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
We are a Singapore-based interior design studio with a focus on residential projects. I have been a partner since the studio was set up in 2004.
4What does “design” mean to you?
Design is the result of the natural progression of the human mind and shows us what is possible today, when it was still inconceivable yesterday.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
Personally, I love designs which explores juxtaposition. By contrasting concepts or materials which don’t typically belong together in the human mind, it has the potential to create some spectacular results if done right.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
A good design should be able to conjure an uncontrollable sense of happiness, enthusiasm and/ or curiosity when you are interacting with it, whether visually or physically.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I don’t intentionally develop a certain ‘style’ per se, because a designer should keep learning and trying different ways of doing things in his life - for better or worse. I don’t like clients coming to me for a certain style.

However, my preference for ‘seeking simplicity within complexity’ usually shows in the end product and it is probably due to my ‘prim and proper’ personality. I try to make a statement in my work without trying too hard, and I do that by taking elements away until I feel there is simply nothing that needs to be taken away.

8Tell us about your design process.
I usually kickstart the process by understanding a client’s profile and requirements in depth. And I think also think of the project’s surroundings and its context. Once some basic ideas begin to form in my head, I put it aside for a few days and then come back to it. Usually, the design miraculously shapes up clearly at that point.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
Being exposed to various cultural practices, (including external Western influences during the country’s development to a Third World country), I believe it has an indirect, yet profound effect on my design methodology and thinking in the tackling of a project.
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?
This win makes us love our job even more, and makes us think we might be doing something right after all!
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?
The client, having worked with us for his last 2 residences, approached us to design this residence for the third time. In sharp contrast to my other projects, I don’t design in this ‘style’ too often. The living spaces present a certain Art Deco vibe to it, in order for the inside to gel with the exterior facade design. I consider that a personal challenge and wanted to see how people perceive my vision here.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
We were given 2.5 months (3 months to plan ahead) to execute and complete the on-site work for 9 bathrooms and 7 bedrooms. These are on top of the works at the communal living spaces on the ground level and restoration works on parts of the exterior.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
It makes us strive to produce work that showcase our best efforts every single time, because we know people can see it.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Meeting people from all walks of life, seeing your visions come to life & dealing with beautiful objects every single day!
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
Our country is a melting pot of many cultural influences and that provides us a view that is truly one-of-a-kind.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
Smart technology and sustainability issues WILL be a huge consideration in every single project.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
If you put your heart into your work, people can see it. Just hit that submit button!
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
The world of social media is your oyster. You just need to know where to look.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I come up with pretty good ideas in the shower!
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My grandma. She taught me the art of giving, and to always think for others.
21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Be nice to everyone you meet and wait for great things to happen! :)

Winning Entries

Maison 1 | 2023


The restoration of this 3 storey house to accommodate a three-generation family of 8 sees the design team retrofit…
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Stan Tham

Stan Tham is a self-taught designer that learned the craft of designing by observing what the cream of the crop in the industry does which lead him to open his very own design studio with his partner, Kusnin Tan.

Read more about this interview with Yang Yan from China, the Platinum Winner of the 2022 MUSE Design Awards.