Design Anthology, Asia Edition, Issue 34


From the editor

It’s that time of year when we shift our focus from the regional to the local and take a deep dive into one nation for our annual country edition. The very first of these special issues was published in the second year of Design Anthology’s existence with Issue 6, when a seed was planted after my first trip to the Philippines. The team enjoyed the process of researching, visiting and celebrating one country so much that it became a yearly tradition.

I first travelled to Malaysia in the early 2000s, and have been fortunate to visit more than half a dozen times since. I’m always struck by the history and exoticism of the country — the smells, sounds and sights all so rich and lush, and utterly foreign to me.

Like all our country editions, this issue aims to shine a light on a place in the region that’s been under-represented and under-appreciated from a design perspective. While Malaysia is known for its food, beaches, cultural diversity and at least one architectural wonder, it’s perhaps fair to say that it’s been less lauded for its design credentials. Also like all country editions, this issue uncovers just the first layer of cultural and creative output, and we encourage you to explore more.

These editions are always the product of much collaboration, and while the pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions scuppered our plans to spend as much time on the ground as we’d usually like, our team has worked with an invaluable local network to tell some wonderful stories. Among the selection are a tour of aesthetic F&B spots, a peek into a few of the country’s creative spaces and a roster of renovated and repurposed buildings in Kuala Lumpur, and a preview of the new Soori urban resort that’s being developed in the UNESCO-listed clan home of architect Soo Khian Chan. We also talk to prominent players in the country’s art scene and round up a few stylish picks from the fashion world. And as always, we’ve brought together a selection of homes that we hope are representative of the exciting architecture that’s being built across the country.

We hope you enjoy this issue, and perhaps it will inspire you to start planning your own trip to Malaysia. To everyone who helped in some way to make this issue possible, we say a heartfelt terima kasih!

Inside the issue


News from Hong Kong and Tokyo

New collections and collaborations

Upcoming and new books on design, art, interiors and architecture from the world’s best publishers

A Day in the Life
We spend the day with ceramicist and A Touch of Clay founder Yeow Seng Cheah

Hospitality Design
Offering everything from heritage-informed to sleek and modernist, design-led F&B outlets have come a long way

Studio Culture
We get to know Kuala Lumpur-based Wunderwall Design, a young studio that takes a detailed and considered approach to both studio life and work

Malaysia’s design scene is burgeoning, and as eclectic as the country itself. We survey some of the emerging studios leading the way


Editor’s Picks
Malaysian designers we love

We meet Melinda Looi, one of Malaysia’s most prominent and eclectic fashion designers


Hotel, Penang
An upcoming hospitality project by Soo K Chan of SCDA Architects embodies a deeply personal journey

Resort, Kuala Kubu Bharu
PulaiThree Retreat is an open-concept holiday house located less than an hour’s drive from Malaysia’s capital

Photo Essay
Sydney-based photographer Nicholas Watt documents the unique culture and architecture of Penang’s George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The best of the new boutique and luxury designer hotels from around the world


Art Scene
Art mavens Liza Ho and Beverly Yong discuss Malaysia’s artist-run spaces, grassroots festivals and dynamic gallery circuit

Working between art and architecture, Pamela Tan navigates towards a new form of public art in the Klang Valley


Kuala Lumpur
A home by Malaysian architecture icon Kington Loo receives a modern update from Canadian-born designer Jeffrey Wilkes

Canvas Hill Residence is an artist’s retreat in the natural sanctuary of Janda Baik

Kuala Lumpur
Architect Fabian Tan transformed a dark single-storey dwelling into a light-filled, minimal space

Kuala Lumpur
Jun Ong’s tranquil home stays true to his sensibilities, from preserving the apartment’s history to designing for his beloved pet

Kuala Lumpur
A sensitive renovation has breathed light and life into graphic designer Oon Soon Lim’s home


Nature Reserve
The Habitat has been designed to protect and promote Penang Hill’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Adaptive Reuse
Adaptive reuse projects are revitalising Kuala Lumpur’s culture and communities

The Flâneur

The Park Divide
A flâneur is an urban explorer — a connoisseur of the street. In our rotating column, guests share their musings, observations and critiques of the urban environment in cities around the world. In this issue, culture writer Sheau Yun Lim reflects on how Kuala Lumpur’s lake parks are a metaphor for subtle social divisions

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