Jerry at home in Holland Village, Singapore
What was your first job?
I was a designer at a silkscreen factory where I helped draft graphic patterns for sport jerseys, school and factory uniforms. At the same time I was also a student journalist for a Chinese paper.
Can you walk us through a typical day for you?
On weekdays I am mostly behind my Mac if not at the meeting tables. On weekends, I either work on Underscore, The U Press, The Design Society Journal, or mentor my two apprentices for their personal projects. Besides those, I’d be home pruning, watering or repotting my plants, or go running around my house. On days I feel less introverted, I would either be playing tennis or mahjong with friends.
What are your hobbies and passions outside of work?
I am in my botany phase where I enjoy gardening and studying about plants. My parents’ house has a huge garden and my dad is an avid gardener; he’s been influencing me since young on plants and I finally got around to really find passion in (and time for) it. I have been making ceramics for three years and hopefully I am able to start making something decent soon. I also love hiking and make it a point to hike once every few months. I read occasionally.
How would you describe your place, and what do you like best about it?
A wünderkammer of memorabilia with stories as I grew up, while I travel, and of people I’ve crossed path with; a space where I feel most comfortable, intimate and familiar—my ‘Bat Cave’ if you like. My favourite feature would be the window which gives me a comforting view of foliage and plentiful of natural light.
What of your personalities can we see in it?
That I’m a hopeless hoarder, probably? I just finished that Marie Kondo book and am looking forward to kicking this habit.
In your opinion, no home should be without…
Plants, natural light, good books and of course, eventually, someone to share it with.
What influenced you when decorating your room?
Rather than consciously decorating my room, I calibrate it to fit my lifestyle, and arrange stuff to streamline my movements in it or to accommodate my habits. I prefer a modular system where I get to re-arrange the layout every once in a while. That means no built-in or fixed furniture. I also make sure I know the stories behind the things I own, such as the designer of that shelf, or the meaning behind that Franz Kafka poster, the origin of this Afghanistan war rug.
What do you listen to when you are at home or is silence preferred?
Mostly jazz; recently I’m really into Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. ‘60s was a good era…
If your walls could talk, what would they say?
Go out more, meet people.
What are your favorite places to hang out in Singapore?
I never get tired of Botanic Gardens and the Southern Ridges. For a metropolitan like Singapore, these green places are surprisingly well preserved and maintained. As you grow older though, you start appreciating time spent at home—whether alone or with a few good friends.
In what attire do you feel most like yourself?
Track pants and sweaters.
What are you looking forward to?
My upcoming hike in the Alps.
Famous last words?
I just came back from Kasauli, India, where I visited a school in a rural village, there were no desks or chairs and the children were sitting on the dusty floor, reciting their teacher’s scribbles on the chalkboard. The condition was not exactly comfortable by our first-world standard but the children had the brightest smile on their face—just feeling happy that they get to attend school at all and learn about the outside world. On one side of the classroom wall there was a portrait of Gandhi; on another side it was painted “Do Good, Have Good”—these four words have been stuck with me ever since.