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


Here’s most of us in red on Chinese New Year Eve! 😀


We had an amazing CNY lunch together at Sanga.


Chopped up a whole salmon. 100 pieces of salmon sashimi split into two boats!


Salmon Fried Rice


Parts that don’t make good sashimi make good cooked food.

There was a lot more food. But we were enjoying our food so much, we forgot to take a picture of all of them.


Again, we forgot to take a picture of all of us together. So here’s some of us. 😀

May we all have a great year ahead!

One of our interior design projects has recently been featured on Architecture Malaysia magazine: Vol 26, Issue 6, December 2014.

The project was an interior design done to a double-storey bungalow on Crookshank Road. More pictures on the project here: Interiors for Detached House, Jalan Crookshank

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A sustainable living quarter with a sleek timber interior complements its natural, green surroundings.

The house is nestled within a residential neighbourhood close to the city centre, surrounded by mature trees and natural vegetation. Considering its close proximity to the city centre, the site’s unusually tranquil environment is a boon for the owners who decided to build their first house in Kuching for their growing family.

After construction had commenced, Integrated Design Consultant was approached to design the interiors of the house with a focus on the living and dining areas, kitchens, family room and bedrooms. The brief called for the designer to create a cosy living environment that complemented the architecture as well as provide storage for their burgeoning book collection. One of the distinct architectural features of the house is a ramp that connects the ground floor to the first floor – giving the owners a bird’s eye view of the natural surroundings as they travel along the ramp to the upper floor. The house is also designed to be sustainable and utilises metal screens and timber louvres to encourage natural cross ventilation throughout the house at all times. Natural light is a constant feature in the house as there are ample windows in all the habitable spaces of the house, minimising the use of artificial lighting during the day.

Inspired by the slope of the ramp that connects the house on both levels as well as traditional Chinese lattice screens, the designers utilised the wall between the ramp and living space to build custom-designed shelves for the owners’ books that still enables natural light and cross ventilation to flow throughout the house. The shelves not only serve the purpose of providing storage for the owners’ book collection – they form screens, room dividers, and divans for reading on. They also enable family members to interact with each other even when they are in different parts of the house, as the ramp is a transition space that links the living areas on the ground floor to the family room and bedrooms upstairs.

The designers decided on a restrained palette of materials in order to complement the sleek, modern lines of the architecture. They were carefully chosen to balance the harmony between the architecture and the interiors and require minimal maintenance for the owners, who wanted the house to complement its natural surroundings. Raw plywood and teak floorboards are used extensively throughout the house not only to create a striking contrast to the white-washed walls, but also to show how humble materials can create sophisticated architecture and interiors. Both fixed and loose furniture was detailed out of local ‘Lala’ timber plywood in keeping with the minimalistic aesthetic as well as for its honey-blonde colour and fine grain. The use of special plywood also dispensed with the need for additional interior finishes.”

Special thanks and well done to all those who worked on the project, namely Tina, Chloe, Martin, Jenny, and Justin who helped to take the final photos.

congrats cafe cafe - IDC

We celebrate the Grand Opening of Café Café, Song Plaza on 28th November 2014!

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We were approached to design a new outlet for Café Café, a popular local eatery, at Song Plaza, Brighton Square, a commercial hub filled with F&B outlets in Kuching.  The 170m2 space had an odd-shaped, irregular layout that proved a challenge to provide the maximum number of seats that the clients requested. There was also a 750mm wide square column in the centre of the space and there was very little window frontage at the main entrance. However, on the plus-side, the space had an exposed tall ceiling soaring 4.6 metres high that we knew we could take advantage of in order to complement the nature of the restaurant.

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One of the most important aspects of the renovation was to create an interesting frontage that could capture pedestrian’s attention as well as to create a recognizable façade. Due to the minimal glass frontage, we designed a series of colourful, timber louvre screens that were finished with a special painting technique to give the screens an ‘aged’ by-forgotten era look. For the interiors, we decided to go with an industrial-chic aesthetic tied with a ‘school canteen’ concept for diners to reminisce the communal and playful spirit of a school dining hall. Dangled from the ceilings are ‘paper planes’ folded from recycled newspaper metal plates that appear to fly and soar in the air, contributing to the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ atmosphere of the restaurant.

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We took advantage of the wall with the longest and largest surface area; creating diner-style banquette seats and a feature wall composed of painted mild steel plates, painted PVC pipes cut to custom sizes, expendable mesh screens, and painted metal plates made into letters that spelled ‘Café Café’. The rhythmic and repetitive elements of the feature wall combined with subtle back-lighting were inspired by the idea of old billboard signs against a backdrop of architectural building elements.

One of the most distinct elements of the space was a huge column in the middle of the dining area. We decided to use this as a design advantage by encasing it with a series of circular metal screens and shelves and designed a communal dining table around it. The result is a focal point in the middle of the dining space that draws guests there. Interestingly enough, it is currently one of the most popular tables in the dining space.

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Centred around the idea that food brings people together, we see this project as a way to combine playful design elements with humble, unexpected materials to create interiors that are both sophisticated and cozy at the same time.

We hope the space managed to pleasure more of your senses than just  your tastebuds!


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For more on what’s Happening at IDC | DesignEast, click here: http://www.idc-designeast.com/happenings/

For more of our Projects, click here: http://www.idc-designeast.com/projects/