Mr Hunn Wai, who had earlier trained as an industrial designer, received a scholarship from the DesignSingapore Council to pursue a master’s degree programme at the Design Academy Eindhoven in Holland.
It was a master’s degree programme at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands that brought together Italian Francesca Lanzavecchia and Singaporean Hunn Wai, 34, to set up design collaboration Lanzavecchia + Wai at the end of 2009.
Mr Wai, who received a scholarship from the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) in 2005 to pursue the degree, earlier trained as an industrial designer at the National University of Singapore.
The design studio has caught the eye of international arbiters of design. Journals such as Newsweek have featured its designs, and it was shortlisted for the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2013’s “Life-enhancer of the Year” prize for its MonoLight table lamp.
Last year, the studio won the accolade, “Young Design Talent of the Year”, at the Elle Decor International Design Awards, selected by the magazine’s 25 editors worldwide.
The studio’s international clients include Alcantara, Samsonite and Mercedes-Benz.
This year, its design for the interior of a helicopter cabin by Anglo-Italian company AugustaWestland will hit the market.
The design duo beat eight other studios in a contest to design the interior of the new corporate AW169 helicopter.
Lanzavecchia + Wai beat eight other studios in a contest with its design for the interior of the new corporate AW169 helicopter. PHOTO: LANZAVECCHIA + WAI
Part of the experience was the opportunity to be tutored by Giulio Cappellini of Italian furniture giant Cappellini.
The presence of Lanzavecchia + Wai on the international stage was supported by Dsg grants to mitigate the costs of showing at Salone Satellite, a conceptually focused exhibition space that is part of the Milan Furniture Fair, in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Mr Wai says: “As a young studio, the grants were a godsend. Funding gave us the financial mobility to make showing overseas happen.”
Later this year, the studio will launch a high-end baby cot system. Baby linens, changing tables and mobile toys for cots are also in the pipeline.
For the Milan Furniture Fair in April, the studio has also been engaged to design the stand for Italian marble company Antolini, which was responsible for the marble cladding on buildings such as the Rockefeller Center.
Mr Wai says that for this project, the studio has tried to create “a new expression” of marble, which is usually considered heavy.
He says: “We want to challenge people’s perceptions of what marble is.”
This article was first published in The Straits Times, 16 February 2015.
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