From the way certain colours make you feel, to how a shower is used, no detail is too small or irrelevant for Leonard Lee. It is perhaps this need to refine every aspect of design that has contributed to his success. The 44-year-old creative was recently appointed regional managing director and creative officer of global interior architectural firm Wilson Associates – where he has worked for 17 years – and counts big names like Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La and Sofitel as his clients. Known for imbuing an understated elegance to any space he works on, it is only natural that we turn to Leonard for some design tips.
Which of your projects reflect your signature style?
I prefer to mix colours in interesting ways and push boundaries, and the Signiel Hotel Seoul as well as the Crowne Plaza Shanghai Pujiang show that. In the former, you can see pale mint hues complemented by pops of purple or blue. In the latter, I matched deep blues with Hermes orange furniture and green walls.
What are some subtle design changes that will impact the way one lives at home?
To create a hotel-like atmosphere, install a feature wall or an iconic display, and invest in luxurious amenities in the bathroom. Rolled-up towels placed neatly beside the sink, and bathroom slippers placed just outside the shower add an element of hospitality to the home. Homeowners should also consider creating a flexible environment that allows them to open up the living, dining, and kitchen areas (one big area to host parties), and also close off different areas for privacy. Another way to visually enlarge the home is to allow more sunlight in. Instead of an opaque wall, opt for a more translucent material.
What does your home look like?
I enjoy contrasts in colours and styles, so I used sage with muted cream and beige, to complement the garden view, and bought contemporary furniture in a mix of different styles. I created a restful and pared-down atmosphere in the bedroom with a variation of grey tones.
I also chose artworks that best speak to the space. For instance, I commissioned artist Hono Sun to create a painting for my study. It depicts two people walking on a tight rope and carrying harvest – it is a reminder to myself, to persevere and work hard.
What is one piece of furniture you cannot part with?
There are two – a floor lamp and a set of industrial-style shelves, both from Restoration Hardware. I bought them when I was living in the US. Every piece is made of iron, and tarnished and hand-beaten so each item is unique. Plus, they are not available in Singapore.
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