Q&A with Designer Andrew Loh of Rhombus Design

He believes that designers should create extraordinary experiences and products that ignite people's desire and imagination.

Updated on June 13, 2017 7:06 am

Jerni Camposano

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"I enjoy the challenge and precision required by industrial design to express the values of the brand within tight mass manufacturing constraints. But I find furniture design—specifically small batch or custom designed furniture—very attractive as it allows the designer to express his own unique perspective more freely," muses Andrew Loh Yee Boon, founder of Rhombus Design.

Together with collaborators in his Singapore-based studio, Andrew experiments, designs, and crafts meaningful and engaging experiences and products. With 15 years of experience in design, he has worked on a variety of projects including sports equipment, mobile communication devices, and consumer electronics for leading brands. In fact, Andrew was commissioned to design the Dichroic Trishaws for the recent Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

Nocturne Stacking Stool & Green-wall was created in response to small living spaces and the growing popularity of having fresh food ingredients at home by cultivating them ourselves.

Andrew also tried his hand in furniture design. The 38-year-old designer created the Nocturne Stacking Stool & Green-wall to cater to small living spaces in Singapore while encouraging the idea of growing greens for fresh food ingredients.

"This was inspired by my trip to Myanmar. Endearing small papier-mâché owl figurines can be spotted peeking out from nooks and corners in shops and homes. These owls are regarded as a local lucky charm similar to the Japanese Maneki-neko or beckoning lucky cat," he explains. "Most of us have a stack of stools that we keep in a corner of our homes that we pull out and deploy when needed. The stacked Nocturne stools with small owl planters live on the side of a sunny walkway or balcony as a green wall for herb plants when not used for seating, and can be separated when we need extra seats for guest during house parties or gatherings."

How did you get started with designing furniture?
Even as a child, I found that it was very natural for me to imagine an idea for a toy I wished to have and then pull this intangible idea into tangible reality by drawing and making models out of paper. I was constantly drawing, painting, and making.

Like most doting parents, my Mum noticed my affinity for design early on. She cultivated it by enthusiastically encouraging my efforts whenever I created a new drawing or made a new toy. She made sure that I always had a wide selection of pens, paints, pencils, papers, and other materials within reach.

After high school, I found out about Industrial Design and that is all about imagination and creating objects. I just knew that it would be something that I would enjoy doing and find meaningful for a long time to come.

Irememberparks bench: This design hopes to recapture a sense of wonder felt in our first encounters with nature in parks. In the fabrication of this bench, an entire log was segmented and every single piece was reassembled to create a playful creature-like object.

What was the very first piece that you designed and created?
A large sculptural fibreglass park bench for a school project. It was challenging and it consumed many of my student days in Melbourne, but I enjoyed it because I love the physicality of working on form with my hands. I adore handmade objects and have the greatest of respect for craftspeople and sculptors.

How is your creative process?
I’m all for "thinking with your hands" in the creative process. It's important to start working. As we refine our designs by drawing, crafting prototypes and sculpting virtual models, we will find weaker points coming to light and new ideas presenting themselves.

Where do you get inspiration from?
Inspirations for designs occur to me when I’m in a semi-crowded cafe with some background chatter, staring at my sketchbook while listening to music. I don’t think I’m directly inspired by the environment, but it serves as an inviting blank canvas where my mind can subconsciously connect relevant details of what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced with the design brief on hand.

SEA Games Dichroic Trishaws: Commissioned for the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, this design involves re-imagining a fleet of well-loved and iconic Singapore trishaws.

City or country?
City

Traditional or contemporary?
Traditional and contemporary, it depends on what’s appropriate

Morning or evening person?
My mind is at its clearest in the morning. I wake up without an alarm and I’m often up working at 5 a.m.

Comfort food when conceptualising and designing
Teh 'C’ ping or an iced latte if that’s not available

Favourite place in Singapore
Parkland Green at East Coast Park has a stretch of cafes and bars facing the sea—perfect for laidback afternoons.

Favourite furniture piece in your home
The bed after a long day

Breeze Lattice Modular Pinwheels: Playful and endearing, this installation of modular dichroic pinwheels aim to create moments of engagement between users, objects, and spaces. The sight and sound of gently turning pinwheels are wonderfully soothing as they invite the visitor to get a closer look, capture the moment with a photo, or stare at it for a while.

Design rule you love to break
“Always design for your audience." While it's very important to listen to what your audience say, the designer’s role is to dream, to create extraordinary experiences and objects with their ideas and energy. It is not the responsibility of the audience to imagine these possibilities—their role is to enjoy them.

If you could live in a famous person's home, whose would it be and why?
The Fortress of Solitude from the Superman comics. I crave "quiet" time.

Interior design trend you're glad that happened
Craft revival. Craft is awesome.

If you would be reborn in another country, where would it be and why?
It may be related to being 38 this year, I find that I can’t bring myself to imagine being someone else or living anywhere else.

Tips for homeowners when choosing furniture or designing their home
Start with the basics. Do not overdo. Buy the best quality that you can afford when it comes to chairs.


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