People With A Passion: Nek Anwari – Creative Director

CDI World

When our Singapore-based Creative Director Nek Anwari was a small boy, he drew cartoons and stick men. We think they must have been rather special.

Today, having pursued those very early career clues and grown into a highly- experienced professional designer, Nek’s eye-dazzling creative output ranges across a wide spectrum of interiors: from retail stores to restaurants, from corporate offices to night clubs – and much more.   

Always fascinated to learn more about the talented individuals who make CDI World the exceptional business it is, we had a virtual sit-down with Nek for an old-style Q&A session…  

When did the notion of becoming a professional designer first emerge?

In my early 20s (many years after my stick-man phase!) I realised that I wanted to build a career in design. At first, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but along the way I dropped that and re-shaped my ambitions towards interior design.

If you weren’t an interior designer, what profession would you like to follow?

Still within creative design – probably a fashion designer or architect.

If you need Nek, you’ll find him getting creative in his office.

What recent project has given you the most creative satisfaction and why?

Designing a shophouse façade situated in a theme park. A shophouse is a building that’s both a shop and a residence and this was something different for me as I’d never designed one before. It was more challenging than I expected and involved architectural elements as well. Projects like that demand you show how creative you can be.

What inspires you as a designer? Do you have any designer heroes?

Oh yes, there are a few. Yabu Pushelberg, Bjarke Ingels, Zaha Hadid and Mad Architects are some at the top of my list. I admire their design concepts as well as their design philosophies.  

What aspect of your job absorbs you the most?

My design work always puts me in a very focused state. Not only that, you can place yourself squarely in a zone where your skills match the challenge at hand – the same mental spot where creative ‘flow’ occurs.

What design elements or technical trends are particularly fruitful at present?

Spatial planning and conceptual techniques are very hot topics. And on the technical side it’s essential to keep your skills up-to-date with the latest software design tools. Currently, I’m working with Procreate, AutoCAD, 3ds Max and Photoshop. HTML, CSS and JavaScript are also useful.

What is the single most important factor in creating a good design?

A good design is careful, a bad design is careless.

If CDI-World offered to fund and manufacture a personal, ‘passion project’ of yours, what would it be and why?

That’s very generous of them! I would say a theme park because a multifaceted project like that is a fantastic way to apply our design approach. You have to understand all the aspects that are most important to the user experience. The design must meet their needs functionally while exceeding their expectations. Its build quality must offer lasting value and it must also promote future growth. When can we start?

Do you have a favourite pastime or interest outside of work?

Yes – design! My work is my hobby. I research new trends and products in architecture and interior design. I keep abreast of projects completed by other architectural and interior design houses – seeing what works and what doesn’t. In design, you’re always learning.

What annoys you and what encourages you about design today?

Uncompromising deadlines can be hard because they can shorten the creative time that could have made the finished product even better. But what’s encouraging about the design field, and what I like most about being in a creative industry, is the privilege of imagining a different future.

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