Mature and sustainable design is the goal, says Dess Chew of interior design studio Three-D Conceptwerke

Dess Chew, principal designer at Three-D Conceptwerke. 

Mature, sustainable design. This is what interior design studio Three-D Conceptwerke hopes to achieve in every home project. Founded by Dess Chew with senior design consultant Terence Soh and administrative manager Cynthia Koe, the 12-year-old studio has two other partners, senior design consultants Jack Loh and Peter Ng.

Speaking in a mix of English and Mandarin, uber- cool principal designer Dess, sporting chunky silver rings 
and steel-toe boots, explains: “An indication of mature design is when the home remains comfortable for the owners after many years, even becoming more beautiful with age.“

The 44-year-old cites architect Tadao Ando as a role model. “His projects possess a quality of timelessness. He achieves this by making use of natural elements like light in his architecture, so that they blend in well with the environment.”

You could very well say
 that the studio’s projects, too, embody a certain timelessness, for its designs are not steeped in popular interior trends. In fact, “industrial” or “Scandinavian” are not terms bandied about when describing its different and often edgy designs.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that the team design not from an aesthetic adherence, but from wider conceptual bases. “We’re interested in creating interior architectural spaces, not interior spaces,” says Dess, who has a diploma in environmental design from Lasalle College of the Arts.

“Interior is only cosmetic, but interior architecture is about creating an evocative space that prompts reflection, to think things such as ‘Why is this column here?’ or ‘How was this space composed?’”

Initially hesitant, the clients now love the lush green wall that is the anchor of their Interlace apartment. 

To the entire Three-D Conceptwerke team, designing in relation to the environmental context is important yet simple, even intuitive. For example,
 a client of theirs fancied the plush European-style cafe interiors for their home, but the designers judged the concept too heavy and out-of-place with The Interlace’s verdant setting. To keep the apartment looking light and fresh, the cafe elements were balanced with emerald accents, on one of the living room walls and in the pendant lamps, that matched the development’s green surroundings. “We will advise our clients not to stick to a look for the sake of it, especially if it is unsuitable for your home.”

A semi-detached home in Jalan Wajek, Steel House is an amalgamation of three influences: the Eames House by Charles and Ray Eames, ideas from building handbook The Barefoot Architect, and the communal culture of the kampung. 

In fact, though homeowners now turn to social media as a major source of interior design ideas, Dess stresses that it is best used only as a guide. His advice? Exercise personal judgment. “You can approach and listen to the interior designers that you’re interested in, then use your own judgment to discern if they are trustworthy. You must analyse things on your own; don’t just follow the flock.”

And the studio walks the talk. Dess muses aloud: “As long as the company is doing something different, not following popular trends and tastes, but always designing from a blank canvas, we are staying true to the culture we have created.”