Design Hunter Q + A: See Yen Foo
Originally from Singapore, today See Yen Foo lives in Melbourne and owns Apt Living and Apato. In fact, the launch of Apato coincides with Melbourne Indesign this weekend. Before it all takes place though, we had a chat with this furniture guru and found out he has a love for cold beer, work, and great taste for architecture.
Where you are from/live: Grew up in Brunei, Singapore. Now live in Melbourne
When did you first know you wanted to be a…..
The journey for me as a furniture guy started during one of my holiday jobs as a teenager in a furniture store and I have been passionate about furniture since. I think the initial appeal for me was the homely and creative environment. I have since worked in various furniture stores, of different concepts which fueled my interest and broadened my understanding about the make and design process. I have always been interested in the minimalistic yet elegant approach taken by Japanese designers and their quest for perfection in everything they do, from design to manufacturing. Nothing is too trivial.
Your latest project: We are preparing for our participation in the Melbourne Indesign event and will also be taking part in the “Project”. We are thrilled to be partnering with Group GSA, one of the top design/architectural firms in Australia. The event will also coincide with the launch of Apato. The Japanese furniture and design industry is surprisingly not getting as much international exposure and we are elated to be able to share our passions by introducing some of the finest furniture brands in Japan to this side of the world.
Where you find inspiration: Anywhere and everywhere, as cliché as that might sound. I truly believe that inspiration finds you when you are 110% passionate about something.
Three people that inspire/excite you:
1) Richard Branson – exemplifies the term – Living life to the fullest.
2) Tadashi Inamoto (Founder of Oak Village in Takayama) – gave up his career as a nuclear physicist to help save the world… one tree at a time. Oak Village’s motto “Turning a 100-year-old tree into products that last 100years”.
3) Naoto Fukasawa – his designs are simple yet so distinct.
What is your favourite… (Current favourite)
Car/bike/plane/boat model: All the classic Mercedes roadsters
Chair model: My current favourite will have to be the IS Lounge Chair by Inoda+Sveje
Residential space: Wall House by Peter Stutchbury with Keiji Ashizawa
Commercial space: Marina Bay Sands – beautiful from every angle, especially breathtaking at night.
Decorative product: Step Step Stool (by Motomi Kawakami) – technically a functional item but definitely qualifies as decorative.
Functional product: B&O BeoPlay A9
Handmade good: Forest Musical Choir – Oak Village makes really good hand-made, educational toys but this one takes the cake. Where the conventional xylophone uses bars that graduates in length, the bars on the Forest Musical Choir are uniform in length and the different musical notes are produced by the different timber species and its density. Teaches kids about the different types of timber too.
Mass-produced good: Bidet
Item in your studio: My notebook. Scribbling helps me remember things.
Time of day to work/play: Work – in the dead of night. Play – when I go home to the little one.
Meal: Mee Pok – one of 2 things you cant go wrong with, with Singapore hawker food. The other being chicken rice.
Drink: Definitely an ice cold beer to end the working day.
Bar: The Smith
Piece of technology: The smartphone
Historical figure: Nelson Mandela
Fictional character: Marty McFly
Vice: Work work and work.
Virtue: Find your passion and it’ll take you places.
What does the term ‘Design Hunter’ mean to you? Seeing value beyond trends.