Property Insight recently had an exclusive chat with famous designer Melinda Looi who shared her love for sleek, minimalist interior designs. Looi also spoke about her two property acquisitions purchased with her German-born husband Dirk Luebbert who is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Mellooi Creation Sdn Bhd.
Something Looi’s grandmother once told her left a deep impression on her until today which was the importance of having a house, whether you are rich or poor. That idea resonates with her till today, as she wants to ensure each of her four children aged between two years old to 12, are provided for in terms of having a property each.
“I told myself that I may not give them money. But at least, I will try to give each one of them a property as I want to make sure that they each have a house of their own. As for the rest, they will have to earn it themselves. So, I do believe in the importance of owning your own properties,” she says.
Looi shares further that she and her husband Luebbert are quite fussy themselves when it comes to acquiring their own properties. Having said that, she admits that finding the right properties has not been an easy journey for them.
More than 10 years ago, Looi didn’t have a place to herself so she stayed in the old showroom just a stone’s throw away from Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur with her helpers.
Later, having settled down with Luebbert, they realised that they needed to stay in a proper place and started looking around by going to view many beautiful and expensive condominiums as well as newly launched developments while also surfing the internet for other possible options.
Looi admits that she herself is not a fan of condominiums, preferring landed properties with land for gardening instead. However, the reason they finally decided to raise their family in a condominium unit was because of the comprehensive security features provided.
“I work very late and I have kids so I thought we should stay in a condominium because of the security, facilities and so on. We discovered a unit in Petaling Jaya with a very high ceiling which we love so we booked the unit right away. We have been staying there for seven years since,” she recalls.
“I don’t like to be trapped under a low ceiling as the place would feel very stuffy. We need a much bigger place as I have four kids now so we found a house in Damansara Heights, KL which we will renovate into a bigger space to ensure that they have their own space.
“But, we haven’t had the time to think about how to go about the process and what kind of interiors and furniture we would need. So admittedly, it has been quite a journey for us when it comes to investing in properties.” Looi shares.
When quizzed on why she choose Damansara Heights as her new abode, she explains that her husband Luebbert prefers to stay close to their showroom as he dislikes driving.
Besides the convenience of staying close to amenities such as shopping malls, restaurants, hospitals and clinics which Looi believes is of upmost importance, one of her dreams is actually to own a kampung house.
“It is one of my dreams to have a kampung house facing the paddy fields where I can plant my own vegetables. The house can be like a weekend getaway place for me and my family,” says Looi.
Following the downturn of the economy, Looi acknowledges that now is a good time for people to invest in new properties. However, for those who want to sell their properties, she opines that now is not the right time as prices have dropped tremendously due to the ongoing economic uncertainty.
She encourages those with extra money to consider purchasing a house in Bangsar or Damansara Heights in KL because usually, properties in these neighbourhoods will fetch good returns.
Sharing her personal preference when it comes to interior design, Looi has opted for a clean white canvas look and setting against which she displays her collection of artwork and even her kids’ painting.
However for her landed property, Looi would opt for a rustic style.
“Most people always think that designers are very flamboyant especially if you do high-end fashion couture. But I think very differently when it comes to interiors and this is something about me that people don’t know.
“I like the colour white because of its timeless look and feel of being clean. I also like things which are sustainable and will last long just like what I wear,” Looi explains.
MELINDA’S PLACE IN THE KITCHEN
As someone who loves to cook Asian food and make tong sui – literally translated to mean “sugar water” representing a collective term of sweet desserts for her staff, Looi says she finds solace in her kitchen after working at her showroom gallery.
“My kitchen countertop is made of stone in a dark grey colour. It is quite rough because I don’t like it to be too clean and I don’t want it to be marble because you can get scratches on it.
“So far, the material has lasted seven years and interestingly, the longer we use the countertop, the better it looks which is why I like natural materials. I want everything in my home to look natural and last longer. My kitchen is my favourite part of my house as it is big and spacious and we can sit up to 12 people in one sitting,” she muses.
Taking pride of place in her kitchen is a unique hanging lighting which looks very much like a designer piece.
“It is actually a normal lighting set which I converted into something else as you can see in the photograph taken with my daughter Myla, or Lala as she calls herself. This is where I put up friends or visitors’ messages whenever they visit us at our home,” enthuses Looi.
She further explains that guests to her house would write little notes and she will clip it unto the lighting fixture.
Also known as the “Family’s Memory Chandelier”, there are also photos of her kids’ late grandfather, baby photos as well as the photo of the actual kitchen before the renovation works were completed.
Although Looi prefers more vivid colours when it comes to the soft furnishings of her home, she opted for a sofa in black leather in place of a previous grey sofa. Not only does it complement the Hunter Douglas silhouette black-and-white blinds, it also accentuates the black-and-white painting by Andre Mendes from Brazil, says Looi.
“My husband and I saw this painting at an art exhibition. Truth be told, it is the first painting which we both liked at the same time and it was also our first investment into a painting. We became good friends with Mendes, the artist from there,” she muses.
The painting complements another piece in her painting collection.
“We also have a piece from our late Ibrahim Hussein given to me by him and his wife Sim on my birthday 10 years ago.”
Looi reminisces how spotless their house was when she visited him. Ibrahim told her he even painted the floor of his residence white.
“Although time flies, the painting which is so colourful complements and enhances everything in the house,” shares Looi.
Free-spirited in her design sense, a walkabout around Looi’s swanky showroom on Jalan Maarof in Bangsar, KL also proved to be a gem of a discovery.
The gallery houses a treasure-trove of collectibles and designer dresses ranging from fairy-tale like gowns to bohemian clothing with a funky vibe right down to her signature avant-garde and vintage style she is famously known for.
Quite unlike her preference for a sleek, minimalist look for her residence, her niche boutique showcase various facets of her personality to a tee.
Melinda Looi is an award-winning fashion designer and the founder of Mellooi Creation Sdn Bhd – an avant-garde and vintage style couture showroom founded in 2002 and located in Bangsar, KL.
Her brands include Melinda Looi Couture, Melinda Looi Prêt-à-Porter and MELL which are sold in Malaysia and in boutiques spanning Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Another sub-line – MELL BASICS comprise basics made from certified Organic Cotton and emel by Melinda Looi, a fashion initiative by Melinda Looi.
Her delicate craftsmanship and ideas has won her many accolades. She was awarded the title “Designer of the Year” three times – twice at the Malaysian International Fashion Awards Malaysian International Fashion Week and at the Mercedes Benz Stylo Fashion Awards in 2009.
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