Q&A with Furniture Designer Chan Wai Lim of Trigger Design

This Singaporean designer once designed a windup music box as a tribute to the nation's Founding Father, Lee Kuan Yew.

Updated on June 12, 2017 11:06 am

Jerni Camposano


Chan Wai Lim, an Industrial and Product Design graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, is a member of a group of product designers who showcases tales of Singapore through practical designs. The Little Thoughts Group's passion is to share their "unique perspective of everyday design through the quirks of our local culture."

Wai Lim spent seven years working for design consultancies and nine years in a multinational company after she finished her studies in 1999. She designed a variety of products, including consumer electronics, kitchen appliances, medical devices, and heavy industrial equipment. In fact, her design on the Dell personal computer won her the Design of the Year Award at the 2012 President's Design Award. She bagged the same accolade in the following year for the Dell Inspiron consumer range PC.

In 2010, Wai Lim finally realised her dream of designing furniture by exhibiting for the Little Thoughts Group. "Receiving positive feedbacks both from local and international helped build up my interest and confidence. Since then, I was happily designing more furniture," she recalls.

At 41, the founder of Trigger Design describes her journey to furniture designing as a fun, fulfilling, and valuable learning experience. "Furniture is a subtle companion of human being, always beside you most of the time. They constantly evolve but will not become obsolete," she says.

Kampong Cuckoo Clock, 2010. This is the first furniture piece Wai Lim created. It is a two-meter-tall clock that produces different sounds of childhood memories every hour.

Rocking Tiger of Singapore, 2015. A project for Bazaar Art, this piece is a tribute to the late Lee Kuan Yew. This is a windup music box to store your jewelry.

What was the very first piece that you designed and created?
It is a whimsical two-meter-tall nostalgic cuckoo clock with shelves for the Little Thoughts Group. It produced different melodies from childhood memories every hour.

What is the most memorable furniture item you designed?
Icons of Sembawang. It began with merging a childhood memory and story with eco-friendly wood used for outdoor architecture decking. The result was a fun, interactive, and nostalgic range of outdoor furniture that breaks the conventions.

Where do you get design inspiration from?
I get inspiration by observing people's habits while travelling. And it always helps experimenting with materials and hand-make some simple models.

Makan Pantang, 2013. A range of kitchen utensils with each piece based on a superstitious brief when having meal.

City or country?
Both, I can switch depending on the situation.

Traditional or contemporary?
Both. It depends on what I think best fits the customer's brief.

Morning or evening person?

Comfort food when designing
Just tea or coffee to keep me going

Favourite place in Singapore
Lower Peirce Reservoir or East Coast Park. A place to step away from our fast paced and busy lifestyles

Favourite furniture piece in your home
Shin Azumi’s AP Low Stool. It is made by just a piece of bent wood. It is beautifully sculpted and functional with thoughtful stacking method.

Icons of Sembawang, 2015. A range of rocking chairs, which is a collaboration of the Little Thoughts Group and Sanko Timber

Design rule you love to break
I think there are no hard rules on design. What matters is the fresh and clever ideas that connect and improve human life.

Design trend you're glad that happened
Smart furniture. I’m glad that Corning and Ikea are starting to embed electronics onto furniture as it opens up new opportunities.

If you could live in a famous person's home, whose would it be and why?
Eric Clapton, one of the most influential guitarists since the '60s and one who has a huge guitar collection. I love guitars. They are like furniture pieces. They come in different forms and expressions yet have one simple function.

If you would be reborn in another country, where would it be and why?
Japan. Very rich culture that promotes creativity and craftsmanship

Tips for Singaporean homeowners when designing their home
Lighting, space, and smell should be key considerations.

Wai Lim also shares with us her childhood home in Jalan Kemuning. Read about it here.

Who's your favourite furniture and interior designer? Share them with us at hello@cromly.com.


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