By Willy Wilson
Unless you have been hiding in a cave for the past decade, you would know of Eric Leong.
Bold & Stylish: The renowned celebrity interior designer, Eric Leong
As one of the few successful multilingual local talents in Malaysia, Leong has appeared in every form of media available in this day and age.
He has hosted over a dozen TV shows, published three books, served as guest DJ in radio shows, and endorsed multiple brands and products in the local scene. Simply put, Leong is that bald individual who people love.
“Been there, done that,” says the designer of his portfolio. Leong, who has been dubbed Malaysia’s design king, was awarded Asia’s Best Brand Awards alongside Air Asia in the 2008 Malaysia Global Brand Forum.
In 2010, Eric came up with a groundbreaking online television (www.ericleong.tv) that has, thus far, featured an online ID show titled Beautiful Space.
“Thanks to my new venture into online TV, I will be working closely with StarProperty.my,” says the Interior Design and Business graduate who is also the head of interior design faculty of The One Academy of Communication Design.
Of his constant reinvention, Leong comments, “If you stuff creativity, hard work and spot-on marketing strategies in a giant blender, you would get Eric Leong!” How true.
When not busy with work, Leong admits that he likes to spend his time at home. He lives in a quaint 1,200sq ft condominium unit in the hilly part of Bangsar. “My home is where my heart is. Everything in this home reflects me as a person,” he says.
StarProperty.my paid a visit to Leong’s abode and scored some top-notch design tips from the master himself.
Tell us about your three-bedroom condominium unit. How big is it and when did you get it?
The size of this condominium unit is 1,200sq ft, which is quite a tiny unit for a family but big enough for a single guy like me. This is the first and only place I have bought and lived in since I moved to KL. Over the years, I have done some renovation works.
How much work went into this unit?
I have turned two bedrooms into a study room and a wardrobe closet. There is a built-in cabinet, covered in mirror, at the dining area. This mirror façade is meant to give a sense of spaciousness. I have also turned half of the balcony into a part of the living room. That is one of the smartest ways to expand your space.
Where is your favourite spot in this unit?
Since I enjoy reading, I spend a lot of time in the study room. But my favourite spot is actually the living room, where I designed most of the furniture pieces.
The position of the living room is slightly above the ground. A quick tip. A split-level platform is one of the most practical ways to clearly divide the function of each room because you don’t have to put any barrier between the rooms. Therefore, less cost and hassle-free.
What are some of the most memorable experiences in this unit?
I remember when I just started out in KL, I would ask some furniture shops to lend me their products and arrange them nicely at my (then) empty unit. I would take photographs and keep them as my portfolio. In fact, that’s how I got the attention of the Casa Impian crew, who was interested in featuring my unit after I sent them some photographs. As fate would have it, they were interested in me too.
Casa Impian was your first TV show. How has the show changed your life?
Casa Impian gave me the avenue to venture into show business. Upon reaching the sixth season of Casa Impian, I was signed on to do a new show entitled Deko Bersama Eric.
But it wasn’t until I did an ID and Feng Shui show, Good Luck 365, that I tapped into the Chinese market. Following this show, which was in Mandarin, I was contracted to do two Cantonese shows called Creative Home – The TV Show and ID Show respectively.
You started off as an interior designer. How did you get into TV?
Well, since the first day I arrived in KL, I knew that creating public awareness about my expertise would be the way to go. Before my first TV stint, I actually went around asking for an opportunity to give a talk about ID with no fee whatsoever. Gradually, from speaking in seminars, I ventured into TV and other media.
Back to your home, how does this place reflect you as a person?
I think I am a person who holds on to my Chinese roots despite the Western concepts that I embrace, in the way that I conduct my business. The same goes for my home. There is an obvious Oriental touch among the strong presence of classic contemporary design.
Share some design and décor tips with us.
Changing an atmosphere of a space can be as simple as re-arranging the furniture. Therefore, you want furniture items that can be moved around easily. If you have limited space, use sliding doors to save space. When it comes to carpeting, opt for a runner (as opposed to a square rug) to give the impression that a space is “longer”.
Low ceilings are one of the most common problems in vertical residences. Hanging a heavily decorated chandelier may not be wise. Instead, build a frame on the ceiling’s edges and install soft-key lightings tucked underneath the frame. What you’ll get is a classy, dramatic ambience without sacrificing your vertical space.