True creativity comes from a place of authenticity and affection. At Brewin Design Office, these attributes are present, reflected in an artisanal approach toward the making of objects and spaces, a perceptible passion for design, and respect for each project’s specificity. Working across scales and genres – including but not beholden to residential, hospitality, commercial and cultural works – allows for unbridled experimentation and a multi-scalar awareness within each project, with the overall ambition to attain a sense of beauty ruled by order, rhythm and detail. Since the firm’s founding by Robert Cheng in 2012, this direction has remained steadfast.
Robert guides a team that is passionate, curious, always searching for meaning and that enjoys the process of design – from collaborating with clients to the complexity of creating concepts and details. Be it a coffee table joint or employing soaring vaults to give grandeur to a restaurant ceiling, all products of the practice are perfected through a conscientious process of planning, testing and refinement of ideas.
Each project is viewed as a kit of parts that layers complex interior design details over an architectural framework derived from rigorously-ordered processes – from the combination of different materials, colours and textures to the customisation of furniture, deep research, the ability to procure pieces and engage international partners and fabricators. Craftsmanship is a given. The tectonics of our construction details become the common denominator or DNA that ties all our projects together. The result is interior spaces that exude character and soul, and provide a strong sense of emotion and experience.
Our portfolio continues to evolve, with notable works including Park Nova, a luxury condominium in Singapore; Oma by the Sea, a prestigious seaside residential development in Hong Kong; penthouses and interiors in buildings by globally renowned architects Jean Nouvel, Thomas Heatherwick, Robert A.M. Stern, Kengo Kuma; Restaurants and Lounges at the Capella Hanoi; Multi-generation Family Offices in Hong Kong; the 61 Robinson and Capital Square commercial towers in Singapore’s Central Business District; the Rotunda Library & Archives at the National Gallery Singapore; and ongoing luxury boutique hotels in Japan.
Architecture and design involve complex processes. For Robert Cheng, this is a source of creative delight. Placemaking, problem solving, crafting narratives, fulfilling briefs, and giving purpose, rigour and longevity to spaces are as fascinating to him as the tangible touch points of a project. A table made with straw marquetry from sheets of African Ebony veneer; functional yet mesmerising forms that bring a human-centredness and sense of nature into public and urban spaces – these are but some examples of the built products of Robert’s visions, birthed from an indefatigable curiosity, a passion for creating bespoke elements, a responsibility to the highest standards, an intuition for art and architecture, and an abiding obsession for interior and furniture design, and their storied histories.
The breath and depth of Robert’s passions, which ground the investigative spirit of the practice, emblemise his view of the world. The foundation for this approach was laid at an early age when Robert began living, studying and travelling abroad in Asia, Europe and America, absorbing at every turn the joy of a beautifully crafted building, an appreciation for the provenance of a piece of furniture, or the subtlety of a room designed with clean, simple lines.
These early cross-cultural lessons in good design and the warm emotions they evoke were further refined when he studied architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, and then Urban Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design. But it was his apprenticeships with influential architects and designers in New York City and Paris that left the deepest imprints, where Robert honed his love and talent for design, and where he nurtured an enduring appreciation for conceptual design and a zeal for tectonics, craftsmanship and materials.
Whether an intimate city apartment, a boutique resort or the sophisticated lobby of an office building, Robert personally oversees every commission. This commitment to what he calls “the art of making things” has become an important benchmark in the practice. Clients know they will receive at the end a customised design, stirring space, luxurious bespoke details and handsomely finished joinery and furniture.