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Inside Peter Tay’s World

Peter Tay talks to us about his work processes and how his first monograph reflects his design journey.

Inside Peter Tay’s World

Peter Tay, who launched his first monograph in Hong Kong at our inaugural Hong Kong Indesign event in 2013, is back supporting our 2014 edition of Singapore Indesign as an Ambassador. Aside from this interview, Tay will be sketching for us in a separate Q&A, out soon on our event website. Keep your eyes peeled.

Belmont Park
House at Belmont Park

Peter Tay is often described as a ‘celebrity designer’, thanks to his high-profile clients, which include actresses Zhang Ziyi and Zoe Tay, to name just a few. “I’m not sure if I am worthy of the title,” the interior designer humbly states, though he admits, “I guess the association that I have gained through some of the projects that I have done does help.”

Holland Park
House at Holland Park

More than anything, Tay, whose portfolio includes luxury residences, high-end showflats and retail spaces, says design should be centred on a person’s lifestyle and should be about the positive emotions it can bring to the user of a space. This is what he wants his work to be known for, and to achieve this, his clients have a key role to play.

“My clients are an important part of the design process; it is a two-way relationship, with me assisting them to realise their vision of their lifestyle and the activities that surround it,” he explains.

Holland Park
House at Holland Park

As such, it’s not surprising that the project often begins with a casual conversation with Tay asking his clients a series of questions, such as, “Do you entertain a lot?” and “Do you have an extensive art collection?”

The design solutions would naturally depend on the answer, but those who appoint Tay would also know to expect a project with lots of sleek, uninterrupted lines, as well as reflective and transparent surfaces.

House at Sweetenham
House at Sweetenham

“I like the idea of reflections and the way it affects the spaces around it. I love glass and other transparent/translucent surfaces because of the way glass is able to create duality between the exterior and interior spaces, which results in multiple reflections whose boundaries are blurred. I use a lot of high-gloss finishes as well for the same reasons,” says Tay.

House at Sixth Avenue

He adds, “[In my work], spaces are streamlined, edges are neatened, and services recede into the walls, so that the textures and qualities of materials are able to stand out. These form the simple decorative value of the space.”

Salon by Surrender
Salon by Surrender at Marina Bay Sands

One of Tay’s more recent projects of significance is not an interior but a book – more specifically, its the designer’s first monograph and a compilation of his work over the past decade. “It’s a celebration of my journey and of life itself. Since my [automobile] accident back in 2006, I’ve come to value life and design even more. I would like to share my experience and the work I have done,” says the Architecture Association (AA)-trained Tay, who has been practicing design for 12 years.

The limited edition monograph is heavy and glossy black, mirroring Tay’s penchant for reflective surfaces, though it can also be construed as having deeper philosophical meaning: a metaphor of Tay’s contemplation of his journey in design.

Peter Tay monograph
Peter Tay’s limited edition monograph

“The book offers a glimpse into the lives and spaces of my clients and my projects,” says Tay. Images by photographer John Heng provides “an emotive side to the spaces,” he continues, “They often capture a moment, a feeling and the way the spaces are used… it gives a little insight into my world and my thoughts, my personal reflections, and the choreography of life in a space.”

Simply titled Peter Tay, the book was edited by Erwin Viray (Professor of Architecture and Design at the Kyoto Institute of Technology and editorial associate of architecture publication a+u), and produced and printed entirely in Osaka, Japan.

“Reflection(s)” installation at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice

Tay has just returned from the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice where his installation entitled “Reflection(s)” is being exhibited. He’s also busy working on a series of residential and commercial projects in Singapore and overseas, and two voluntary church design assignments both in Singapore and Cambodia.

“Reflection(s)” installation at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice

Despite a hectic schedule, his team remains small at 12 staff. Tay says they all have “their individual strengths” and he has “complete trust” in them.

In fact, over the years, Tay says he has come to realise that the success of each project doesn’t depend on just the designer alone. “My projects are a relationship between people; we are often like a family… It is really a team effort, which includes the client, my design support team, my team of builders, etc. My role as a designer is to guide and help achieve the vision of the projects, and at times, take them to new and exciting levels.”

Photos © John Heng

Peter Tay Studio

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