Arete Culture is a multi-award-winning interior design and decorating group, which has created over 1,000 homes around Southeast Asia. Arete Culture is known for a styling philosophy that prizes functionality just as much as classic elegance. Every project created by them is tailored to how their customers live in their spaces now, and how they might grow into different spaces in the future. Check out this exclusive interview with Caroline Chin Geyler, from Arete Culture.
Exclusive Interview with Arete Culture
How would you describe your work style? Do you have any kind of signatures that help to identify your projects?
The approach we adopt at Arete Culture is to always think long-term. That often means we are apprehensive about relying on building or making structural changes unless necessary. At the end of the day, we believe that a home should be a reflection of the homeowners — as their tastes and needs evolve over the years, we want to ensure they have the flexibility to grow in their space, and not feel constrained by built-ins that they did when they first moved in.
We believe our job is to help our clients articulate who they are in their interiors. This means that we listen carefully to what they want to see and understand how they are really using the space. We want all our clients to live in spaces that have their friends going, “this is so you!” when they see the transformed home. So we hold their hand, design solutions that take away the fears and uncertainties of interior design and help them connect the dots to find their own style. Every home we create has each client’s DNA in it.
What do you love most about being an interior designer?
I love that our work helps our clients find joy in their lives. So many of us don’t realize the impact our homes have on our wellbeing until we are confronted with change — good or bad. A simple tweak of changing the environment can make such a significant impact on how we feel. I also greatly value the relationships we have built with many of our clients. They come back to us time and again at different milestones of their lives (when they first become homeowners, as their family grows), and it is a true privilege to be there with them through these special moments.
What is your philosophy on design and life?
Life is short, and often, challenging. This is why I think that design should feel natural, easy, inspiring, and liveable. Design, like life, should be open to change, and enjoyable. I love mundane moments that remind you of how much beauty there is to life, and also moments of unexpected joy. These moments often engage all of your senses and draw you in — these are moments I also hope to create in my work, such as by creating a powder room experience that leaves house guests feeling luxuriously pampered.
In what ways do you keep current with new trends?
In a nutshell: I don’t care about trends. We value two things in our design timelessness and versatility. When we create a home, we care most about what our clients need and want, and how we can not just answer these needs but elevate their lifestyles. We create homes that feel uniquely like our clients — homes that are inviting, cocooning, and soulful. This is why trends don’t really matter to our practice.
Who or what inspires you?
I am endlessly inspired by opportunities and possibilities. My mum is probably my biggest inspiration — she is a talented, patient, hardworking woman who single-handedly raised our family. We didn’t have a lot growing up, so we looked for opportunities to enrich our lives all around us. I remember cutting bougainvillea from our garden so we would have fresh flowers and sewing tablecloths from old clothes.
My husband inspires me to be a better person and has traveled with me to so many parts of the world. This has broadened my perspective on design styles around the world. I also love jewelry, and my interior design role models are Sophie Paterson, Kelly Wearstler, and Kelly Hoppen.
How important is a perfect chemistry between you and your clients to achieve the best results?
So important! We’ve been in the industry for over a decade, so we know the relationship we have with our clients is directly proportional to the outcome of the project. Client relationships are sort of like a marriage — it is so important to find someone that shares your vision. If we don’t have chemistry with the client, we are likely to not take on the project.
Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
We are about to begin building holiday homes in Ipoh, Malaysia, which will be set up as a hospitality arm of the business. Guests will be able to rent the space, complete with optional guest experiences, insider tours, and even luxury transportation they can use. I am excited that this creative endeavor will be a reflection of what I personally love in design — just as our clients’ personalities can be seen in the homes we create for them, I hope these holiday homes will be representative of my personal style.
What do you think about this exclusive interview with Arete Culture?
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