While Muslim homeowners are in the midst of sprucing up the house for guests during Hari Raya, we are asking if Malay interior decorating has changed much over the years. What influences modern Malay houses in terms of home décor? What are the biggest trends in Malay interior decorating? We speak to Cindy Fong, Project Consultant of Darwin Interior to find out just how modern Malay interior designs are evolving.
Q: What are the influences for a traditional Malay home? What are the materials and colours that are predominantly used?
7-8 years ago, country theme was the more predominant theme in Malay houses whereby there was a preference to use a lot of wood such as oak and ash. Even though tastes are more modern today, Malay houses remain on the traditional side, where there is heavy influence from Indonesia, particularly the Balinese resort style.
Q: What is the biggest difference you have noticed when designing Malay houses as compared to others?
A very big difference is in the kitchen. There is still a lot of cooking in Malay households, hence the need for a more equipped kitchen, beyond the basic necessities that are sufficient for Chinese homes. Secondly, Malay houses tend to be more heavily furnished with a lot of furniture and furnishings.
Q: What is the biggest trend for Malay interior decorating for this year?
I wouldn't say that there is an obvious trend for this particular year, but gradually we are noticing that Malay customers today prefer a different layout for the kitchen, something different from the conventional L-shaped or parallel cabinets. The trend is towards a more open concept design as well as the island layout. As the kitchens in new houses are quite small, customers like to incorporate the open concept to make the house look bigger by knocking down the wall between the kitchen and the living room.
Q: How has the interior design for Malay homes evolved over the years?
In the past, malay customers have a liking for traditional oak cabinets, or carpentry with lots of wood colour. Today, they prefer vibrant colours, colours like red, orange or even green.
Q: How are today's Malay homeowners different from yesterday's?
I wouldn't say this is race-specific, but more age group-specific. Younger clientele tend to be more vocal in their needs because they know what they want and they are more aware of what's out there. Older homeowners are more easygoing and they like to leave it up to the interior designer to decide for them.
Q: What would you like to see more of in Malay houses?
I would like to see more creative use of lighting to create the right ambience. For example, you can play with lighting to illuminate a corner in your house to create a cosy corner. I would also like to see cleaner lines and less clutter to create a more contemporary feel.