GO UP

10 questions with Kelley Cheng, local designer and creative director

(Photo by Sarah Choo)

The multihyphenate designer-writer-photographer-entrepreneur talks about the things in life that get her going.

1 What gets you out of bed in the mornings?

I love what I do, so the excitement of a brand new day, of course! No, I’m kidding, I’m totally not a morning person, so I get out of bed only after roughly 10 snoozes on my alarm. So, if I have to pick one thing - my morning kopi-o from my favourite kopi uncle is a big motivation.

2 What gets you to sleep at night?

I read and meditate to help shut my mind for the day. (Actually it’s whisky, really.)

3 Name one artiste that you like to listen to while you work.

I love jazz, and I often have Chet Baker on repeat. Chet Baker’s trumpet is so sad and his voice is even sadder. And most creative people thrive on melancholia right? I’m so cliche.

4 Your favourite pet.

When I was four or five years old, my family had two parrots, the only pets we ever had - one flew away and one died. They were really cute when they mimicked our words. When the only parrot left passed away, my mum put it in a plastic bag and we brought it downstairs to bury it. I was slightly traumatised by the sight of the dead bird in a red plastic bag. So that’s not a favourite memory obviously. My imaginary favourite pet is Snoopy, which thinks and acts like a human, and looks so cute.

5 Of these four elements (Sky/ Ocean/Mountain/Animal), what inspires you most and why.

Ocean. I’ve always loved water. I started swimming lessons at four years old, and it’s the only sport I have participated in competitively. So water is both nostalgic and relaxing to me. Nostalgia can often be quite inspiring.

6 Describe your fondest memory as a child…

I was 1st in class academically, from Primary 1 to Primary 6. And every time I got 1st in class, my dad would let me choose whatever present I wanted. Rewards are always good motivation to work hard.

7 Name one cause you will fight for and why, and which organisations you’ve worked with.

I will fight for animal rights because animals can’t talk and can’t fight for themselves. For non-profit organisations, I have done a lot of work for TedxSingapore because it provides a really important platform for designers to share their thoughts with non-designers, and that is close to my heart.

8 Describe your personal design style.

I like to have a bit of poetry and art in my visual creations.

9 What would you like to have as your last meal on earth?

My grandma who has died made the most delicious dumplings. On Dragon Boat Festival days, my relatives would gather at her place, in anticipation of eating the dumplings. My last meal, which perhaps equates to the last memory I will have – would be those piping hot dumplings.

10 What’s the last picture you took with your mobile device?

It’s a shot of the beautiful evening in Hangzhou, where I was giving a lecture a few weeks ago.