Elemental Union

Bringing fresh creative inputs and sharp problem-solving together is pushing multi-disciplinary interior design firm Sujonohun ahead of the pack.

In an era when excellent form merits high regard, practical function often takes a backseat. For multi-disciplinary interior design practice Sujonohun, there’s no cutting corners when it comes to interior design because they believe form, function, and personality must all be incorporated in every project a designer works on. Established in 2014, Sujonohun’s portfolio spans across high-end residential units, show suites, and commercial properties. Jetgala catches up with Sujono Lim, co-founder and director of Sujonohun, to talk about what it takes to be both sharp problem solvers and aesthetic experts in a highly competitive industry.

Jetgala: When you established Sujonohun, what was your original vision for the brand, and how has it shifted through the years?

Lim: Sujonohun started with a vision to create personalised concept propositions, implement the designs mindfully, and execute the built spaces meticulously. Our studio is based in Singapore, where we have five creatives running it; another team of seven designers based overseas helps out the Singapore team.

More than a style or a design language, which varies according to the specific context of the project and the people we collaborate with, Sujonohun is explorative and attentive in terms of execution. Anyone looking at our portfolio may find our style to be a bit more diverse, but one common trait that is present across our projects is a well-executed design detail.

Jetgala: What would you like Sujonohun to be known for the most, and what would it take to get to that point?

Lim: A designer may employ personal and artistic approaches to a project, but he or she remains a problem-solver. Aesthetic and function are inseparable, not as a ‘fifty-fifty’ equation, but more of an amalgamation. So, although there is no single approach or formula that works for every project, an ideal solution addresses its unique context and specific requirements.

The growing number of projects that our teams handle, and the corresponding increase in team members, occasionally divide their attention. That said, we only take on projects that are close to our hearts and passion – the ones we can deal with personally.

Jetgala: What do you think are the signature flourishes that define Sujonohun?

Lim: Our firm does not have one. By designing with a carte blanche, we remain unrestrained by trends, gestures, or even design idioms. Therefore, we are able to create something long-lasting, original, and highly appropriate to the site context and project brief.

Good design is something that realises the full potential of the space. It is one that sits right in the middle of being pretty and being functional. What we like to emphasise is the execution. A good concept often gets diluted and weak along the way due to factors such as budget, client pressure, timeline, etc. On the other hand, a good design concept supported by a proper execution can bring forth a superb and tasteful result, regardless of the style.

Working with homeowners requires a modicum of sensitivity. As much as we want to inject our creativity or even go overboard, we have to adapt our design to the client’s lifestyle, brief, and budget. The most successful projects often strike a balance between our creative input and the client’s expectations.

Jetgala: Besides designing interiors, do you manufacture unique pieces for your project? How about producing a line of furniture objects for interiors?

Lim: We appreciate well-designed, high-quality furniture, which often becomes the pièce de résistance of the space. Also, we do special custom pieces, ranging from coffee tables to sofa and whichever piece a project may require. Otherwise, we work with furniture brands and suppliers who can execute whatever they need to design the space.

It will be a dream come true to have our own line of furniture. We’ve been working with Southeast Asian artisans on a collection of decorative objects for the past two years. The collection is still in the prototype stage, and we are moving slowly and deliberately to ensure that everything is as we envision before progressing to production. We like the idea of combining luxury that is rooted in Asian culture.

Jetgala: Do you collaborate with specific brands or designers on special pieces? If so, which brands do you work with to create them?

Lim: With most of our projects requiring highly personalised design (such as private homes and show units), we’re not compelled to use furniture and objects that are produced in bulk. We design and fabricate for every individual project, and then we move on to the next one and begin again from scratch. This way, our clients are assured that they are not only getting uniquely designed spaces and complementing pieces, but they are also receiving design solutions that are created for their own unique situation and requirements.

Also, we don’t stick with a particular brand; we need to create the perfect look for a project. For this, we work with whoever can deliver to our specifications – whether it is someone we have collaborated with previously or someone new.

Jetgala: Ten years from now, where do you see Sujonohun heading? Are you gearing up for a specific design area or type of project?

Lim: The past two years have been challenging, but they also gave Sujonohun tremendous growth. We are moving towards more exclusive luxury homes and show suites, which require more attention, coordination, and, therefore, time. The design level is higher, but so is the satisfaction and affirmation that we derive from them.

Although it was not planned or intended, our growth has been organic so far. Most of it has been based on word of mouth. We are now getting into a more niche market, working with clients who want the best design solution perfectly married with the aesthetics. We are happy with where we are going because we can continue to pour our passion into what we do. As a creative studio, we embrace whatever surprise comes our way.

Some answers are edited for brevity. For more information about homegrown interior design brand Sujonohun, head to sujonohun.com