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Sunday December 29, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday December 29, 2013 MYT 10:20:50 AM
by lee mei li
Opulent home: A dining room set from the House of Laurence. The brand is all about bringing the poshness of the British way of living to the people.
Come 2014, Malaysian homes can opt for a makeover, British-style.
IT’S a scary world out there and “home” is the antidote. That’s according to globally-acclaimed British interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who feels that “nothing beats the feeling of contentment that closing your own front door on the outside world creates”.
Best known for his appearances on the BBC TV programme Changing Rooms and as head judge on Star World’s The Apartment reality series, Llewelyn-Bowen is all for making homes “look as good as they should”, albeit in a very British way.
The Britain-based designer recently launched the House of Laurence in Asia, a brand new global home collection encompassing furniture, a dining range, bed linen sets, decorative accessories and a series of home fragrances. So far, the brand has a firm footing in China; when it arrives on the shores of Malaysia (hopefully by Spring 2014), we will get a first-hand look into the British world of design style and living, helmed by concepts of “everyday luxury” and “design democracy”.
“My brand is definitely less about a look, and much more to do with an attitude. It follows the tradition of British brands like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Paul Smith – all of these brands are ultimately about an individual’s take on the world they live in,” said Llewelyn-Bowen in a phone interview.
Having spent a good amount of time in Kuala Lumpur filming the past three seasons of The Apartment (Star World aired the Season Three finale earlier this month), Llewelyn-Bowen, 48, observed that Malaysia has never been more prepared for creative self-expression in the home than now.
“The British have always been obsessed with where they lived, but not with how their homes looked. Something huge happened a few years ago when people just said: ‘Hang on a second, I can actually make this space into a reflection of my personality; I can in fact become my own interior designer.’ And I think that’s exactly where Malaysia is at the moment.
“More and more people are owning property. More and more people have their own space and an environment that they can completely call their own. It’s the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey and what the House of Laurence does is to provide a physical palette of opportunities from which they can choose their favourite elements to express themselves, to create a completely new way of decorating that’s all about them.”
While “opulence” can quite rightly describe the brand, the House of Laurence, however, is not entirely aimed at the posh.
“In continental Europe, there’s an obsession with haute couture, which is fundamentally quite snobbish. It’s about selling the most perfectly produced item with the most incredibly expensive price tag to as few people as possible. In Britain, we’re the total opposite. We like our brands to reach out to as many people as possible. In the same vein, I’m much more keen on people developing an easy-going relationship with my brand,” Llewelyn-Bowen explained.
“The keynote to all of the pieces in the House of Laurence collection will always be the moment you look at it in-store, fall in love with it in-store and you look at the price in-store and you go: ‘Oh my God, I thought it would be twice as expensive as that.’ Rather than create a fragile craft that only speaks to people with an enormous amount of money, I want my designs to be welcomed in every home. Life is so tough now. We all have to work incredibly hard. We have huge amounts of commitment but we actually have very little control over our lives. What we can control is how our homes look.”
Currently engaged with another international TV project, The House That Laurence Built, this time to do with building the world’s most perfect house from scratch, Llewelyn-Bowen foresees that 2014 will be an exciting year for interior design in Asia.
“In Asia now, everyone’s gotten so adept at creating their own fashion sense. They’ve become very good at expressing their personality through the clothes they wear. The next step is to express personality through the way that you decorate your environment. And once you do it, it gets pretty addictive.
“The way you use design in your life is an expression of self-esteem. I want to give people an ability to make their homes look every bit as indulgent, as upper class, as posh, as sexy, as exciting, as unusual, as rock and roll, as punky, as everything that I believe British design, at its best, will and can express.”
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