The House Concept: Singapore Prestige Class Award, Top Business Service & Quality Award & Top 50 Interior Design Award 2021/2022

the house of concept 2
the house of concept 2

Co-founders of The House Concept, Shaun and Eric

The House Concept is a full-service interior design firm started by two childhood friends, Eric and Shaun. Eric had been in the construction line for 15 years prior to starting up this business. Those years of experience equip him with the additional knowledge that not many other interior designers possess. Shaun, on the other hand, brings in his sales expertise from working in the automotive field. “Our interest in interior design started after we heard some of our friends share their house renovation journey,” says Shaun. “We became intrigued by their stories. It also reminded us of our love for the life-simulation game The Sims, where you get to design and build nice houses for the characters to live in,” he playfully adds. Motivated by their newfound passion for design and the desire to start their own venture, Shaun and Eric joined hands and set up The House Concept in August 2018.

The pair decided to name their business as such, because a house is synonymous with warmth and comfort. “We want to build a warm and comfortable living environment for our clients,” says Eric. The start of their journey was not easy. Having virtually zero design experience, they had to learn everything from scratch. That was when they discovered that this trade requires not only technical knowledge, but also soft skills such  as understanding human relations and communication skills. “When you decide to do something, not everyone around you will be supportive. We had friends who discouraged us from pursuing this trade, because they said the profit is not so high and the working hours are really long. However, we were committed to our shared vision and decided to push forward,” shares Eric.

When asked what sets them  apart from similar competitors, Shaun and Eric shared that they take pride  in their superb customer service  and wide offerings. “We always strive to meet our clients’ needs, and that has always been our priority. In fact, most of our clients are referred to us by satisfied clients from the past. Our reviews have also been only positive so  far,  and I  believe that speaks to our commitment to do the  best  in every project that we take on,” says Shaun. “On top of that, we are also a one-stop design and build service, as we provide not only the designing service but the construction work as well, thanks  to  our  in-house carpentry team. My background in construction also enables me to give building structural  advice.  To  top  it all off, we also offer custom-made furniture to further complement the space created for  our  clients. Basically we are able to take care of your house renovation needs  from start to finish,” adds Eric.

The two friends aim to build The House Concept to eventually become the leading interior design firm in Singapore. However, that big goal starts with short-term goals, such as team expansion and adding more in- house services like tiling works, hacking works, and electrical works. Despite having taken on commercial projects such as F&B establishment and car dealership, Eric and Shaun also hope to further expand their commercial portfolio in the future.

When it comes to hiring a designer,  Eric and Shaun have a few  criteria in  mind. “We look for someone who has the right attitude  and  a  positive  mindset, someone who is not afraid to face challenges. The person is also ideally organized, as that will help them a lot in this profession,” says Eric.  Shaun  adds that if the person has  prior experience, that would be an added advantage, but experience is not something that they necessarily look for. “Having  the education and experience is great, but it is not a must. As long as the person is willing to learn and has  the  right character, then we are more willing to provide them with the  needed  training and guidance,” he says.

As with many other businesses, The House Concept also faced its  fair  share of challenges during this global pandemic, particularly  during  the Circuit Breaker period  in  early  2020. “We had to abruptly stop all renovation work at that time. Thankfully, our customers were really understanding,” Eric shares.  They also faced a  shortage of  manpower  as  no  foreign  labour could enter Singapore. “Fortunately, we have a good relationship with our subcontractors. As soon as we could resume work, they tried to supply manpower to complete the ongoing projects,” he explains. Shortage of manpower and the slowing down of overall mobility also meant delays in meeting the project deadlines. Projects that would usually take about  1.5 months  to  complete  now  require almost twice the time. Thankfully for Shaun and Eric,  enquiries  started coming in as  soon as  the  Circuit Breaker was lifted, and  business  had only picked up since.

Running a business with a friend is said to be a risky endeavour,  as it can make or break a friendship. For Shaun and Eric, they also had to learn to navigate their partnership and working relationship as two childhood friends. “As much as possible, we always try to discuss everything and make decisions together. That does not mean we are always on the same page. There are definitely days when we do  not see eye-to-eye on  certain matters,  and end up arguing,” says Eric, keeping it real. “But after every argument, we always come back to sit down and talk it out, just like any good friends would. We remind ourselves of the end goals, and always prioritise coming up with the best solution for the issue at hand and setting personal feelings aside. Our clients and the business come first.”

If given the chance to take on whatever project they want, Shaun says that he would like  to  try  his  hands on  a  bigger-scale commercial project,  such  as a shopping center. “Designing and building a shopping center is far  more complex than just doing up a  single  retail  space.  It  requires  thorough planning and a lot more details go into it,”  he  says.  “Ideally,  I  would also want to incorporate nature into the  space and  make  the  shopping center really stand out.” As for Eric, his travel experiences make him gravitate towards designing a hotel for his future  project  of  choice.  “People  associate  hotels with holiday and happiness. It would be really fun to design a hotel with a different theme for each floor level,” he shares.

For aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of entering the interior design field, the two friends share that it is important to have the ability to manage stress. “You are constantly under pressure from both clients and subcontractors, so be prepared for that,”  says Eric.  “Also,  be ready to handle multiple scopes of work at a high volume. The working hours are long, so sometimes personal or family time would have to be sacrificed.” Shaun  adds  that  unexpected challenges are bound to  come your way when you decide to  embark on  this path. “You will face inevitable issues along the way, but that is how you learn. Keep pushing forward even when things get tough. Being in this industry is not easy, but it is also extremely rewarding,” he concludes.

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