Our exclusive Q&A with Singapore-based interior designer Elizabeth Hay…
Originally from Devon, Elizabeth Hay has been running her own firm in Singapore since 2013, providing interior design consultancy and making her own beautiful fabrics and custom furniture. Here's our Q&A...
How did you get started in interior design?
As a family we have always been artistic – we are from Devon and live near Honiton which has the most amazing antique shops, so I have had a love of antiquing since I was young. When I left university I worked at Colefax and Fowler in the old Brook Street showroom which definitely cemented my love for interiors and it went from there really. After that I worked for Veere Grenney where I began running large scale and highly detailed projects … this is where I truly learnt how to run a big project and the details involved.
How did you come to locate to Singapore - and were there any particular challenges about starting an interior design agency there?
We initially moved here because my husband was asked to relocate to Singapore by his company. I was working for Veere Grenney before we moved and was extremely happy in London and loved my job so had reservations about moving. However, I have absolutely loved every minute and setting up a business here has been incredibly challenging and rewarding! I would say the main challenge here is the lack of antique, vintage shops and markets. In London, New York or Europe you can pretty much find exactly what you are looking for in terms of furniture and lighting etc but here in Singapore there is none of that. We tend to custom make nearly all of the furniture for our projects which can be quite challenging, especially if you are trying to create a layered look.
How would you describe your interior design style?
Vibrant, full of pattern, multicultural, eclectic, bohemian, layered and colourful….. all rounded off with a traditional edge.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My main source of inspiration at the moment is probably travel. We have explored Bhutan, Japan, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Australia to name a few and there are so many more on the list. These places are so inspiring in terms of design, for instance some forms of the Ikat originated in Bali and I love going to the factories there to see them being woven. The handwoven textiles in Bhutan and Japan were unbelievably beautiful - in Kyoto I spent hours trawling the antique textile shops finding beautiful 19thcentury textiles. Of course I look to other interior designers past and present for inspiration too - working for Colefax and Fowler and then Veere Grenney gave me an incredibly detailed training and I love the work of Jaime Parlade and Anna Spiro.
How does lighting play a part in your interiors?
Lighting is absolutely key to any interior, it can completely change the mood. I love trying to create a layered look and table lamps, floor lamps, wall lights and pendants are key to this. I think the recent trend for patterned and colourful lampshades is fantastic – this is another great way to add colour and pattern to any interior.
Which recent project are you particularly proud of?
I have been working on a large project for the last three years which I will be photographing early next year which I am incredibly excited about….. but no photos to share yet! I am really proud of the home we have created in Singapore in an old 1920s Colonial Black and White House. The colonial architecture suits my style perfectly I feel and it has been fun creating a family home in the tropics. I worked on a new build modern town house last year and the clients were open to lots of colour and pattern which is always great!
Do you have a particular favourite corner or room that you feel is 'all your own'?
Yes, my home office is my favourite space to get away to. I converted the garage in our garden into my office and I love going to work there! Even though I work from home and the garage is in the garden the difference of having a separate space to the main house is huge for me. I still feel like I am “going to work” and then can also leave it behind when I spend time with the children. I feel very lucky!
Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light?
Hard to choose. I have so many! But if I had to choose I probably would say the marble and brass Crescent light, I have used this versatile light a few times and it is great for adding different finishes and layers to a room and it can be used in a classic and modern setting.