A curator of ideas; a designer of experience; a follower of rationality. Madhavi Tumkur meets Colin Seah
All of the above fit in least with a definition of a designer. Instead they fit the bill of a research scientist who takes on an experiment with some knowledge, but not always certain of the outcome.
Inside the dark womb-like ‘brainstorming room’ of Seah’s Ministry of Design, a graphic depiction of a series of question marks (?????), followed by a series of symbols (*#@&%) and then a series of exclamation marks (!!!!!) offers some clue about his design practice.
“This is an illustration of our way of thought process,” informs Seah. “To question, find ways to disturb the status quo and be surprised at the response.” Seah, who worked with Rem Koolhaus, was inspired by OMA’s typological and research-based rational process of arriving at an architectural solution.
“It is not so much a subjective stroke of genius; it is a clear and analytical way of arriving at a solution. I was very drawn by OMA’s approach simply because it allowed for an exploration beyond one’s whims and fancies. It is one of the key characteristics of our practice.”
Seah’s fine portfolio of design projects ranges from architectural, interior design, product design, all the way to branding.
“I am interested in the design of experiences,” says Seah. “Because of this way of thinking, we are able to explore quite a wide variety of genres as well as disciplines to move quite fluidly from architecture which is form-making to interiors which is place-making to product design and ultimately branding.”
From hotel projects such as the New Majestic to designing the interiors of Leo Burnett and BBH office, to architecture projects in Beijing and more recently product design for Saporiti, Seah has continued to redefine the perimeters of design and its experience.
“If you look at our work, it is a little stripped. There is always one thing that gets you over the others and that to me is success.”
Ministry of Design
Bintong Park Residences, 2004
The Club Hotel, 2010, In progress
Leo Burnett office interiors, 2009
Ashley Isham interiors, 2008
Ontario Residence, 2009 Face to Face, 2009
Beijing One, 2011, In progress
The Club Hotel, interiors, 2010, in progress