How a Creative Director's Philosophical Approach to Design Lends Her a Competitive Edge

One question that Cherin Tan of LAANK gets asked the most when it comes to illumination – "Why should I spend more on my lighting?” To which, she sees it as a duty to educate the client (on illumination) and in turn, bring her vision and aspiration to life. Few interior designers articulate their work process like that of an artform as well as she does, and we attribute it to Cherin's philosophical approach to her work. "Typically, inspiration for me usually comes from a purpose. It’s a starting point that takes you on a trail of discovery once it gets identified," the creative director shared. And all that propelled that trail of discovery began when she was younger, "I looked up to my elder brother (Clarence Tan) who studied Building Management and had envisioned the day where we will become a sibling-duo." That envisionment then might just be her glimpse into the future. Today, Cherin is one-half of cult boutique design powerhouse LAANK, an interior design firm that fills the void in today's competitive scene. Their covetable concepts and expressive narratives are seen in spaces like Fred Perry, Violet Oon Singapore, Bynd Artisan and more. All of which, are uniquely tailored to the brand and are anything but never run-of-the-mill.

Cherin Tan, one-half of cult boutique design powerhouse LAANK had envisioned herself working together with her brother Clarence Tan since she was young. Let's talk light. Functionally it affords illumination. Experientially, it is the impact of lighting on human impression, mood, and behaviour that has made lighting one of the key alliance to the "design" in interior design.

A project by LAANK featuring the discreet Halo light.

Your favourite part of the job?

I love the problem-solving aspect of my job – learning to design better, doing better and the creative buzz one gets in the challenges that lead into a new concept. At LAANK, we often combine intellect and creativity in our job. I also love the feeling of being able to bring our designs into the world and make the designs a little bit better while we are at that.

How do you shape ambiance and atmosphere with light?

From a perspective of an interior designer, knowing your lighting and how to use it well with your design is a powerful tool. Especially when it's used in conjunction with colours, materials, spatial size and furniture. These elements come together with the right lighting to transform spatial experience into a seamless combination of functionality and style.

Our Halo series comes in five styles and 10 iterations. Where are your inspirations from? Everywhere, from sight to sense! Typically, inspiration for me usually comes from a purpose. It’s a starting point that takes you on a trail of discovery once it gets identified. Along the way, life toss in challenges and limitations. This trail then splits into crossroads and diversions, leading one onto a bigger world of unearthing. Marry these findings with your purpose and that would give you your creative ideas. Why is light important? Light is capable of changing the mood in a room just as it does to alter the perceived size of a room. It is an important tool in interior design that should never be overlooked. The way one incorporates lighting into home interiors define the mood of the user of the space as it has a great impact on the perception. Employing good interior lighting schemes can increase the brightness of a space and create ideal mood sets.

Apart from creating ideal mood sets, repetitive use of a single light can give the appearance of a wider and spacious interior. Pictured above, Halo.

What's one thing to not overlook in lighting? Colour temperature – the importance of the right colour hue can make or break your design. Colour temperatures come in a range and is never just cool or warm. Find that sweet spot by considering mixing ranges within a space.

What factors do you consider when designing a project? The objectives: Who is this for; what do I want to achieve? The purpose: Why? And finally how do I get there.

Sultans of Shave, a project by LAANK.

Upward wall-washing technique is employed to expand the space, giving the illusion of a roomier interior. Pictured above, Globula light in chrome gold. What is the most common light-related question asked by clients? “Why should I spend more on my lighting?” Sadly, sometimes clients don’t have exposure or a good understanding in how much lighting can influence your work. Similarly with new or unseen work, you have a duty to always educate the client. The more you convince your client determines how much the client will support you in your vision and aspirations for the project. How do you unwind after projects? After wrapping up a project with a F&B client, we usually break into a feast, drink and get merry. Unwinding with team LAANK usually involves a variety of activities that involve elements of fun. We've even celebrated with secret escapades to dive bars in Bali!

A LAANK project at Jalan Dermawan.

What spiked your interest to enter the interior design industry? It started off with me studying architecture without knowing exactly what that meant. Back then, I also looked up to my elder brother who was studied Building Management. I had envisioned the day where we will become a sibling-duo when we grow up. I can say with pride that we started LAANK together and the company has evolved to beyond interior and architecture. What will be your top 9 advice to aspiring interior designers?

  • Start young and stay young at heart

  • Get excited

  • Never stop learning

  • Be a sponge that soaks in everything

  • Listen aggressively

  • Speak humbly

  • Fear nothing, fear no one

  • Design for the people not for yourself

  • If it’s not good enough for you, it’s not good enough for anyone

Our galleries will adhere to a maximum capacity of 10 or less pax at all times. Our consultants will be available for physical and virtual appointments from Monday – Saturday. Sol Luminaire is located at 395 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399791.

the LAB2.1 is located at 399 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399793.

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