We’re proud to share an article in the recent Home Concepts Magazine that features one of our principal architects, Tina Lau! Read the feature below:


“at the HEART of her passion

Acclaimed architect Tina Lau speaks to us about her memories of design and architecture and discusses the heart of her passion for her architecture.

text by ZOE LIEW images Courtesy of IDC and

Though she is now a senior architect and one of the directors at Kuching based architecture firm Integrated Design Consultant, Tina Lau’s first memories of design include days of flipping through architecture and design magazines from her father’s collection. She reminisces, “I was around 12 years old I believe. I always loved to draw ever since I was young, even when I was in kindergarten. Strangely enough, I remember drawing objects in weird 3D perspectives, instead of still objects or animals or stuff that you would normally associate with children’s drawings. Then as I grew older, I had an obsession with constantly moving the furniture in my bedroom(s) around until I was satisfied with the layout!”


Having worked on projects for Bruce Henderson Architects as well as Lyons Architecure, Tina has a great many experiences under her belt. Nevertheless, there are several key influences in her life. “One would have to be my parents, who have always instilled a solid, working mentality and ethic in my life. Especially my father, who has a strong interest in design and architecture and has always been generous in teaching and explaining how buildings work from a young age. I am in practice with my older brother who is an architect as well, who from a young age has always inspired me with his originality and good taste. My husband, who I also work with, has a unique take on the ordinary things.” Tina’s also greatly inspired by her travels, “I remember when I was around 18 years old my parents took my brother and me on a trip to Italy. Standing in the middle of the Pantheon in Rome, and staring at the Pieta at St Peter’s Basilica really changed the way I looked at art and architecture.”

Recalling several admirable figures in architecture, she speaks lovingly of the works of Alvar Aalto, Enric Miralles and the later works of Le Corbusier. She adds, “I admire the works of Albano Daminato, whom at one point I worked for at a pivotal time in my career. He has worked with Kerry Hill and Christian Liagre, and I think he is one of the most talented and funniest people I have met.”

When asked to name a few buildings and structures which stand out in her memory, she seems spoiled for choice, “If I had to choose just one, it would have to be one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Houses – Wingspread in Wisconsin, USA. It was the first time I had visited America, and Frank Lloyd Wright is one of modern architecture’s great figures. It had a great impact on residential architecture, especially how rooms could be exploded to become experiential, interesting spaces that flowed throughout a building. The spaces inside the house are so well thoughtout and rich in terms of material, texture and human scale. It was built in the late 1930s, so it was pretty out there in terms of interpreting what grand homes should be like, considering the constraints of society at that time.”

Tina who is registered with the Malaysian Institute of Architects as well as the Architects Registration Board of Victoria has worked on a number of notable buildings. With Bruce Henderson Architects, she has worked on Jumeirah Horizon Tower in Dubai. Among some of her most memorable projects are the Melbourne Brain Centre at the Parkville campus of the University of Melbourne during her time with Lyons and with IDC, the KTS Anniversary Park & Function Hall, the interiors of a
double-storey bungalow for some close friends and an extension and renovation of a double-storey detached house in Kuching.

However, instead of aspiring to design any building in particular, she aspires to have the honour of designing for a figure she admires such as Nelson Mandela. Indeed, people are at the heart of her passion for architecture and design. “I love to design for people. I believe that architecture and interior design is about creating and sculpting spaces that enable the end user to live, work and play better. Our built environment plays such an important role in our well-being, and I am deeply moved and humbled every time I hear how our clients are able to use their spaces or buildings to better effect.”

The Process

Tina is intensely dedicated and conscientious in every aspect of her work. Whenever she begins working on a project, she usually starts with visiting the site, or if it’s a site that’s interstate or overseas, she conducts as much research as is possible on its surrounding area and context. She explains in detail, “The population, the demographic, what’s nearby, the vegetation, etc. I usually look for something that’s distinctive about the place, for example a quirky memory or detail that is unique to the place. Then there’s all the normal planning and building codes that as architects, have to be familiar with. Most importantly, it also starts from the first meeting  with our clients where we culminate our design brief; by listening to their requirements, challenges or goals we are able to come up with a plan that makes their intended series of spaces workable.” She concludes that ultimately, the end users of the buildings, have to be satisfied with the result. “It has to be functional but at the same time creative enough to be unique for their particular use or lifestyle,” She adds that environmental passive design skills go hand in hand with good design, and architects must allow for sufficient natural light and ventilation, even researching the hottest
temperatures of the day and planning in anticipation of that.

Highly learned, Tina took a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons) and a Bachelor of Environmental Design in the University of Western Australia. Having spent several years with Bruce Henderson Architects and Lyons Architecture, she muses that studying and working in Australia has broadened her perspective in terms of how different people from different countries use public and private spaces. “My approach to any project, be it on a public or private scale, has always been to observe how people use the space or site initially. That itself gives you clues on what would be the best approach to the site, as well as what will benefit most for the end user(s).”

When commenting on the differences between the architectural scenes in Australia and Malaysia, she says thoughtfully, “Putting aside the obvious differences such as climate and social practices, the architectural scene in Australia tends to be a lot more experimental and expressive of a certain ideology. At Lyons, I worked on tertiary buildings, where I found that the end user groups I worked with are a lot more receptive to new ideas for places of learning and teaching. As a result, there is a certain dynamism to the architecture of new tertiary buildings in Australia. In Malaysia, [we’re] starting to have this desire for public spaces that are integrated with various activities and well-connected to other parts of the city. Malaysian residential architecture already has a certain distinct character which I think makes it unique and is gaining some momentum internationally as well.”

Living in East Malaysia, Tina recognises the strengths and limitations of the technology and workmanship available and has learned to work with a more minimal, less is more approach, which she considers very humbling. Though she has yet to work in West Malaysia, the experienced architect says, “We still have quite a long way to go in terms of developing a city with better facilities, more integrated public spaces and less hierarchical buildings. In Kuching, for some time there has been an urban sprawl that has seen more and more people leaving the city to the suburbs. As a result, the city has become less activated and the concentration of the population has spread away. However, there has been renewed interest in reviving the old, historical aspects of the city and slowly, people are starting to realize the potential of this and are coming back.”

Her Philosophy

There are a few paths the Malaysian architectural scene could take, Tina ruminates, “We should be moving towards a more integrated architecture that culminates cultures and traditions from the past, environmental sustainability and [is] inclusive of all demographics – by making all of them relevant to the time we are currently living in. Instead of trying to mimic a particular building style in another country, we should be focusing on what makes Malaysian architecture so unique by tapping into our cultural aspect for example.”

On a rather philosophical note, she explains, “Architecture has the ability to influence and contribute to the well-being of people; be it a place to live, to teach and learn, to regenerate and recover, to rehabilitate. Our built and natural environment is something we experience and live in everyday – it makes sense that it will have a direct impact on how we live, work and play.”

As we turn to what’s next for Tina and the rest of IDC, she speaks with hope and excitement about a few interesting projects that could be realised, including an arts centre, the fulfillment of which would be an absolute dream. And more personally, she wishes to travel more often with her family and growing brood of children as well as work on more educational and public building in Malaysia.

Closing Note

With much grace, she describes what architecture means to her, “Architecture is the art of balancing ideas with creativity without sacrificing functionality, and has a direct
impact on a person’s everyday well-being.” hc.residences”

Check out this feature of our Apartment Renovation project at Parkview Tower. Published in Home Concepts Magazine 2015, Volume 6. More pictures of the project here: http://idc-architects.com/project-page/renovation-of-an-apartment-parkview-tower-kuching-sarawak/

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Here’s the write up incase the picture is too small:

Sustainably Vintage

Two architects adorn their converted family apartment with classical finds and natural materials.

text edited by ZOE LIEW
photography SHENSNAPS

After many years of living abroad, J and T decided to return to Kuching, Sarawak to reconnect with family and kick-start their dream of forming an architectural practice together. In their mid-30s, J is originally from Hong Kong but has spent many years in Australia while T was born and bred in Kuching. For many years they had worked as architects in Melbourne, Australia where they experienced inner city living and enjoyed the arts and cultural scene there.

When the opportunity presented itself, J and T decided to convert one half of an existing apartment in a condominium centrally located in Kuching into a 3-bedroom apartment with ample views of the city and beyond. The apartment was once the formal living and dining area for T’s grandparents, with a foyer that led to the formal rooms. The challenge was to carve out new living and dining spaces that felt open and bright, and to add three new bedrooms each with adjoining bathroooms. The bried had to work within the existing structural and mechanical service boundaries of the building floor plate.

Drawing inspiration from their travels to the Nordic countries and their love of vintage sensibilities, J and T were drawn to a palette comprising natural, raw textures. Locally sourced materials were utilised by the couple as much as possible including Lala plywood, Selangan Batu timber, honed-finished granite, and travertine stone. They restricted the use of decorative finishes in order to enhance their collection of eclectic artwork and knick-knacks that they had accumulated over the years from their journeys all over the world.

Home Concepts 2015 Vol 6 P2

The existing foyer was converted into a library to house their vast collection of books. The existing marble floor tiles were still in excellent condition, so they decided to retain them for the sake of nostalgia. The bookcases were constructed out of Lala plywood. As a finished product the plywood did not require any additional finishes to dress it. Its natural, golden hue matched the existing marble floor perfectly and the edges were exposed to show the layers of the plywood. Designed from an architectural perspective, the vertical lines of the bookcases followed the existing marble floor border pattern, whilst drawing attention to the height of the ceilings.

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An island clad in travertine stone was introduced in the foyer in order to create a division between the library and the entry. It was designed as a bench as well as a display cabinet for J and T’s collection of family portraits and decorative vases. The pendant lights suspended above the bench are creations by Alvar Aalto, a famous Finnish architect. J and T discovered them in an antique shop during their travels.

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They decided to keep the design of the living and dining areas simple in order to highlight the high ceilings and abundant natural light that flooded into the space. The Selangan Batu timber floorboards were stained a dark walnut color in order to add contrast to the white-washed walls and ceilings. On the wall adjacent to the vintage dining table that T had inherited from her grandmother, a steel fence that J had salvaged from an old factory was hung and customised to feature artwork, plants and recycled mirror pieces. Pieces of recycled mirrors were placed within the grids of the steel bars of a second piece of the restored  fence which hangs in the library.

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Driven by their love for simple, nonsensical designs, J and T’s furniture collection is a combination of modern pieces with vintage chairs and modest, natural objects – such as the fossilised timber stools in the living room that they had stumbled upon in Bali. The Arne Jacobsen Swan chair was a birthday gift from J to T, and the Series 7 Butterfly dining chairs were surprise finds in a second hand shop in Melbourne.

The apartment is now home to J and T’s young twin boys as well, and they still consider their home to be a work-in-progress to adapt to their rapidly changing lifesyles and growing family. By using humble, simple materials in unexpected ways, they wish to continue the process of discovery to create objects and spaces of interest that captivate and inspire their young children and family.”

Get your copy today!

Home Concepts 2015 Vol 6 Cover


PechaKucha Night is back for Vol 6, this time in collaboration with Mini Cooper Kuching. Grab your tickets now!

This 28th April, we have a wide range of speakers from artists and musicians, to landscape architects, a dog behaviourist to the president of SSPCA who will be talking about the rabies outbreak.
Interested to catch these speakers live as they share their creative passions?

Call +60 82 240 406 or +60 11-56939326 now to book your tickets! Limited tickets available.
Contact us through WhatsApp or Facebook for more info.
#pechakucha #pechakuchanight #pechakuchakch #mini #kuching#20images20seconds

Thank you and see you guys!

2016 Season's Greetings Web

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday season!

It’s a known fact that we at IDC|DesignEast, LOVE . FOOD. So we had a Year-End Lunch and a Christmas Brunch to celebrate the holiday season all in two weeks. LOL.

Miss our Christmas Tree?

Year End Lunch at Carvery

There were lots of food.


And lots of Smiles.

The following week, it was time for Breakfasts at IDC again, and we prepared a Christmas themed lunch! Feast your eyes! 🙂

Happy Holidays and a Great new Year to everyone!

We’re glad to share that a project we designed: An Apartment Renovation in Kuching (click for more pictures) was recently featured in Home Concepts 2016, Volume 3. Below are the pages of the article. Special thanks to Zoe Liew for the write-up. Enjoy:

Pared-Back Living

A cramped apartment was transformed into a cosy yet spacious interior for a couple who saw the need for a smaller and more practical living arrangement since their children had left the nest egg.
text by ZOE LIEW
photography by IDC
lead architect / director-in-charge TINA LAU

“As a young, growing city in East Malaysia, Kuching’s high-rise residential scene is experiencing a boom. It is becoming rather common to see apartments popping up along the city’s skyline which has been formerly dominated by low-rise buildings. One of the reasons why there is a growing demand for apartment living is the need for some people to downsize to a more practical living arrangement. The clients are an energetic couple with two grown children living overseas. Since their children had left the nest egg, they realised that their bungalow was too large for the two of them. Wanting to visit their children more often, they were delighted when they saw the opportunity to relocate to a condominium that sat within their neighbourhood. The layout of the apartment suited them. It spanned 230 square metres of area with 3 bedrooms and attached bathrooms, a spacious living and dining area flooded with natural light. Nevertheless, they saw the need for some improvements and wanted to adapt the bones of the existing blank space for their tastes and lifestyles.

The couple approached Tina Lau from IDC Architects to design a simple, fuss-free home where they could unwind after a busy day. Both professionals, they emphasised the need for the space to be functional and practical. Since they were moving from a large house to an apartment, the architects were asked to look into the lack of storage space.

With these concerns in mind, the architects explored different ways of maximising the use of the existing spaces. The open plan of the living area was in fact a long space divided into 2 areas — a living room and a study that could double-up as an exercise area. This duality translated into the custom-designed TV bench which acts as a partition screen and a display shelf for knick-knacks and family photographs. Subtle lighting is used throughout the apartment to create a cosy and comfortable atmosphere. Many of the lights are concealed within the customised built-in furniture, casting an intimate, natural glow over the space”

“Within the same area, the dining table sits in the middle of the room underneath a lowered ceiling with hidden light coves surrounding it which in turn resembles a floating lantern, thus marking the dining space as a defining point. A full-height joinery encompassing cupboards, sliding panels, mirrored surfaces and bench tops line the entire length of the wall adjacent to the dining table. As requested by the clients who often adjourn to their dining room for meals and tea, the team also created a dry kitchen in the form of this joinery unit. The full-height sliding panels conceal pantry shelves and storage for cutlery, plates and cups. Tom Dixon pendant lights are suspended above a low bench that separates the dining area from the hallway that leads to the bedrooms.

The main areas where the clients wanted the most change were the master bedroom and attached ensuite. The existing configuration restricted wardrobe space and the bed was positioned in an awkward location. The clients also wanted a private dressing area adjacent to the ensuite. The demand for more wardrobe space was significant. One challenge the architects faced was incorporating as much storage as was possible into the built-ins without making the space feel cramped. The entire layout of the master bedroom was changed. The wardrobe now lined the entire length of the wall where the bed was originally placed. The bed was moved to where the wardrobe was originally built.”

“This arrangement resulted in a bedroom that was not only more spacious. It also provided additional wardrobe space and opportunities for more shelves and cabinets. The bed backdrop was designed as a single unit with cantilevered side tables and concealed cupboards. Soft furnishings from Acacia Fabrics were used to upholster the cushioned bed head and blackout curtains for the windows from Fabric Library were selected for the rest of the apartment.

The remodelling of the master ensuite and dressing area was radical. Walls were demolished to create openings for vast expanses of frameless glass which in turn rendered a seamless visual and spatial flow. Cabinets with mirrored surfaces and concealed lights above the marble-clad hand basin counter line the full length of the wall, establishing the illusion of spaciousness. New sanitary fittings from Kohler and Toto were selected for their elegant and minimalistic aesthetics.

In line with the minimalist theme, the architects kept to a simple monochromatic palette of whites, charcoals, greys and natural wood. Details such as recessed shadow-lines and finger-pulls were introduced in order to break the monotony of the customised built-in furniture. Together, the clean, minimalistic lines of the apartment and the simple, abstract composition of the built-in furniture reflect the ‘less-is-more’ philosophy which is aligned with the clients’ request for a simpler, pared-back living arrangement. The result is a spacious, bright interior with cleverly concealed storage spaces tucked away in the built-in furniture which in turn help define the spaces.” hc.residences

Salam Ramadan

Selamat Ramadan to all our Muslim friends and

2016 Gawai WEB 3 JPG

Happy Gawai to our Sarawakian and Sabahan buddies!

Hope everyone is having a great month of festivities!


Wishing everyone health, wealth and happiness throughout the new year!


Thank you to everyone for all these amazing hampers!


Lucky draw for all 24 of us!


Ee sang tossing for good fortune!


Happy Chinese New Year once again from everyone at IDC | DesignEast.

Happy Diwali IDC 2015

Happy Deepavali! Above is another rangoli done by our talented designers. Time really flies! Check out our rangoli from last year here: Diwali at IDC

diwali 07

Once again, we headed to Ammah’s curry house for a hearty Indian meal!

diwali 05

Our delicious banana leaf set. This one is mutton curry! The dishes were so pretty that everyone became a photographer:

diwali 04

diwali 03

Most of us!

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There was also a little art piece made specially for our little precious boys.

Have a beautiful, fun filled celebration everyone!