Monday, January 31, 2011

In pursuit of beauty

One of Southeast Asia's most venerated interior design firms is manoeuvring into Cambodia as the post-conflict population opens its arms to modern aesthetics.

The sculpturesque sofa crests in a perfect, petrified wave: as a functioning piece of furniture, it wouldn’t look out of place in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Part of an award-winning project for clothing label Milk & Co, it’s the creative progeny of one of Southeast Asia’s most celebrated interior design firms – a leading aesthetic light poised to capture the emerging market in Cambodia. "Cambodia became an option when we got to do the Malaysian Embassy, which gave us the chance to come here and look at the market,” said Glenn Dickel, business development director with PDI Design & Associates. “We realised it might be tough initially, but when the market picks up in two to three years’ time, we’ll be well-placed.”

Established by a trio of friends in 1993 with a modest start-up fund of $16,000, PDI now counts Christian Dior, Saatchi & Saatchi and The Body Shop among its clients. Existing bases pepper the region in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Bangkok, but the company is nurturing aggressive expansion plans despite the lingering effects of the global economic downturn (the firm itself appears to have escaped largely unscathed: turnover has almost doubled since 2007 and is expected to reach $10 million this year).

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