Meet CLEO Hot Shot 2019: Pamela Tan

Pamela Tan, 28, Architectural Designer

Denim jacket, Supply & Demand New York; leggings, Pink Soda; sneakers, Nike, all from JD; T-shirt, Pamela’s own

Having the gift of visualisation and merging different mediums into a piece of art, Pamela Tan decided to take her career into her own hands. She gave herself the time and space to explore her own vision after spending a couple of years at an architectural practice. She felt like she could do so much more with the ideas and skills she had, and went on to venture out and explore other opportunities. Her recent picture-worthy art installation, Eden caught the public’s attention. She also had an installation up at Good Vibes Festival this year called Projection: Kite that symbolised life and festivity.

Please describe what it is you are and/or what you do.

I’m an Architectural Designer who explores various fields in art, architecture, and design. My work blurs the boundaries between disciplines that embody narrative and values in all forms. I am interested to work at a range of scales, from product design to spatial design. I believe in the collaborative nature between these disciplines and that it could contribute to one and another in practices and processes.

How was it when you were first starting out? How did you first start out?

I started with a range of small scale projects. My very first one was ‘Footprints’, a project for Nike. It was an interesting brief because the subject tackles the relationship between sneaker and architecture. Ever since I’ve received that project, I realised that I would like to continue with this line of work and practices.

One of your recent installations is Eden, which had a monochromatic, ethereal feel. Can you talk us through the process in creating the installation?

When I was approached to produce an installation that reflects nature, I just knew right there and then that I wanted to design a ‘strange’ garden of delight. Eden is a combination of elements that I define nature. The whole structure is white in colour that blends in with the white background to create the invisible-visible effect. Thus, from a distance, Eden may seem like it’s vaguely appearing from that white space but if you take a closer look, you will realise its physical detail structure that fills the room.

“I think the best part about design is the process and experimental phase. You never truly know the full outcome until towards the end.”

Do you usually have a very clear vision from the start or does it become clearer as you work on a project?

I think the best part about design is the process and experimental phase. You never truly know the full outcome until towards the end. The initial planning does give a general idea of what sort of outcome to anticipate, but the real beauty of the design process is witnessing the various outcomes from the process.

We noticed that you have really beautiful photography of your work. Would you say it’s important to showcase your work through stunning photos on Instagram and web in what you do? 

I think it is important to photograph my work properly mainly for archiving purposes and of course for publications/media etc. I find social media is helpful to circulate the work around. It may not capture the full essence and experience of being physically there witnessing the whole thing but it enables people from near and far to catch a glimpse of it. I see it as a positive thing in a sense that it helps generate publicity and accessibility to a wider audience.

Can you share some of the projects you’re currently working on?

I’m currently working on several now. One of them is for KLAF 2019 (Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival). I’m curating this exhibition called ‘AWAS! User Manual of Emergency’ along with my fellow curators; Muhammad Shamin, Nur Nadhrah, and Zan Nureen. The show highlights the ways in which we can pre-empt and respond to natural disasters and calamities. It will launch some time end of June 2019.

Another project I’m currently working on is a temporary large scale installation for OPPO. This will be launched around mid-June 2019.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? 

Some of the most difficult issues I have tackled are mainly sourcing quality materials, logistics and technical issues. It’s challenging because it is hard to predict the various unforeseen circumstances that could happen throughout that process that may result in affecting the delivery deadline. Especially if the project timeline is very short. I overcome it by making use of the given time as best as possible until the issue is rectified.

Special thanks to Tropicana Gardens Property Gallery for venue assistance during the shoot.

Official sponsors: Biotherm MalaysiaJD Malaysia and Fossil Malaysia