In the past, all Singapore-based designer Larry Peh wanted to do was to prove his worth to naysayers.
These days the only person he wants to challenge is himself, and he has much to show for it! In 2014, he received the President’s Design Award, Singapore’s most prestigious design accolade, for his pioneering achievements in the industry.
Elsewhere in the world, Peh has also been conferred with awards from British Design & Art Direction, New York One Show and Tokyo Type Director’s Club.
What was your childhood like? What was school life like for you? Did you enjoy school?
PEH: In my childhood, I spent my days swimming, playing basketball and capering around void decks and corridors. I also draw and paint every day.
I’ve never really enjoyed school, but have always been emotionally drawn to it. I love everything about my school compound – the buildings, the trees, the walkways, and the basketball court.
You were largely self-taught when it came to creative pursuits like guitar and drawing. Is it important to have a self-taught attitude to learning? Did it come hand-in-hand with the guidance you received from your mentors?
PEH: A self-taught attitude is definitely important, as the desire to pursue your passion comes from within. It’s crucial to not dampen that flame as you age.
What my mentors imparted was simple but essential life lessons – honesty in your voice and your medium, maintaining discipline and the ability to handle rejections.
It was significant that all these came together to shape the way I think and work today.
A self-taught attitude is definitely important, as the desire to pursue your passion and the ‘push factor’ lies solely on yourself.
How do you think schools and parents can help children to develop more holistically?
PEH: Firstly, educators should not belittle or look down upon children. Accept who they are, and find a way to help. It’s interesting to observe that in our pragmatic society, many parents are eager to enrol their children in art and music lessons as much as they would for core subjects such as English and Mathematics. After a few years, I’ve noticed, they decide to drop the art-related courses and turn the focus on academic ones.
I’m not much of an expert myself, but I choose to treat my children as adults right from the start. I share world news on violence and terrorism, and also expose them to art, culture, and music. Most importantly, I will never ignore or skirt around their inquisitive questions.
On your studio page, you attest to adopting Eames' admirable ethos, 'Take your pleasure seriously' for your work. Why did you select this particular philosophy to abide by?
PEH: They say you don’t work a day in your life if you enjoy your job. So, if a piece of work is done with that in mind, then every piece of work (commercial or non-commercial alike) should relay that sense of joy.
The Eameses took pains (and pleasures) into investigating and designing children’s toys and games, so that it’ll provide enriching experiences. This philosophy and its corresponding values shaped the way they tackled all their projects. And this is why their works are still relevant and highly celebrated today.
Larry Peh has taken the Multiple Intelligence (MI) test, and his top 5 MIs are: Visual/Spatial, Kinaesthetic, Linguistic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. To find out what your strongest MI are, or areas where you may need improvements, you can take the MI test here bit.ly/1Gn0xSP