Artworks

Interior Design Students On the Rise

Cambodia’s growing real estate industry is spawning a wave of young interior design students, as demand for skills in the sector grows.
Students read books at Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) on January 10, 2022. Picture: Sam
Students read books at Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) on January 10, 2022. Picture: Sam

By Sours Thida, Samoeun Nicseybon

Prom Sophamonyvichuda is a full-time staff designer, photographer, and freelance writer. He is also a fresh graduate student majoring in interior design at the Royal University of Fine Arts and majoring in law at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

“Just like other students, after finishing high school I was confused about what to do next. I started to watch YouTube and research more into the design,” he said.

In developing countries, interior design plays a vital role in the edge of construction. The rapid growth of living standard and the real estate sector, inspire Cambodian students to pursue degrees in interior design.

Since he started working in his sophomore year, Vichuda has received about 10 projects, both personal and with a company. He also works in photography and digital design.

Prom Sophamonyvichuda
Prom Sophamonyvichuda

“I’ve held a project for the residential design of villa, a condo, and a café shop. Some of the projects I was working with companies and some are my own projects,” Vichuda said.

As one of the highest score students in recent graduations, he told Kirirpost that he has fulfilled and pushed forward in his career.

“To be honest, the school environment is a bit difficult to adapt to for me because the way we study is really different from high school.”

“One great thing about the whole journey is that since my foundation year, I have secured the position of top student in all the courses.

“It was an honor because there were people around me along the way as well, but at the end of the day it was me who had the goal and was ambitious for what I want.”

Starting his design career in year two, Vichuda said it was challenging for him as a dual major student.

“I was a bit busy with two schools, but I think I still had some time. So, I decided to find a place for my internship. I am also thankful to the current company I work with that understands my tough schedule.”

The design process usually takes a short or long time depending on the size of the project. As he mentioned, the shortest was two to three months.

Part of Vichuda thesis: tea plantation: interactive exhibition tea accessories hall
Part of Vichuda thesis: tea plantation: interactive exhibition tea accessories hall

In developing countries, with investment and construction growing day-by-day, he also shared his perspective on the future of interior design in Cambodia.

“It's really growing actually, I feel like many people are stepping into this industry for some reason. Even before I started majoring in interior design, I felt like, wow it is growing,” he added.

“I also see now people in Cambodia want to go to new places, like coffee shops, sky bars, etc. and they pop up everywhere. People don’t even mind about the taste, price, and location anymore; all they think about is the great design of the place. Also, residential areas are also growing.”

Vichuda brings key characteristics of the living space: functionality, simple, pared-back designs and natural materials
Vichuda brings key characteristics of the living space: functionality, simple, pared-back designs and natural materials

The lifestyle of Cambodian people and design is pushing forward. People are starting to appreciate art. They also tend to prefer living in a clear environment.

Eng Sopin Kettya, a senior architect designer at Initial Design Studio, graduated from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia in late 2015.

With experience and work in this industry, Kettya mentioned the challenges that usually happened in each process.

“The challenge starts from the initial phase of the project where we have to deal with design quotation on the client. After the quotation phase, comes the design phase - the most challenging part, where we put our skills and senses to create a design that satisfies our clients."

“In this phase, if our design doesn't go well, things will get complicated with clients as they will ask us to revise so many times, which leads us to waste the time and resources of our design studio. The next challenge is the construction phase where all the rendering images become real.”

He told Kiripost that, “In this field, challenges never stop which means problems will always come and go, stress will always stay with you and it becomes a simple thing for people like us. There is no going backward, we're only going forward.”

Similar to Kettya, Meng Socheata, a graduate student of the Royal University of Fine Arts and an interior designer at a company in Phnom Penh, shared her thoughts.

Typically, there are two types of interior design: commercial design and residential design. For residential design, it is more about the lifestyle while commercial design is more involved in the business.

Socheata said, “It is a bit of a consequence with revision, in which we need to talk with clients. It takes time as an expert to explain to our client. All we want is a client to satisfy and also understand our professional work.”

Kettya stated that, “Interior design careers in Cambodia are now rapidly growing as design studios are now on the rise. As the country develops, buildings are on the rise. This boom requires a large amount of skills from local architects, urban designers, especially interior designers. Restaurants, bars, office buildings, as well as coffee shops are now growing like mushrooms."

These give a large number of projects to local designers. Many big international brands are now settling in Cambodia, which hopefully us local designers will get the chance to design for, Kettya said.

Unfortunately, the majority of local designers are not paid in line with their talent since most Cambodian people nowadays do not give much value to interior design.

Hopefully, in the future, as the demand of interior design increases, local designers will be paid satisfactorily and Cambodian people will give more value to this field.

Even this career is widely open in Cambodia, but at the same time it is also a challenge as it is a competitive market.

Vichuda renovates a local cafe with a combine semi-industrial style with minimalism touches
Vichuda renovates a local cafe with a combine semi-industrial style with minimalism touches

“As I see students’ ability is at a certain level, so if you want to work in a good company, each student you need to improve your skills a lot. To people in this field, they constantly need to improve. You cannot stay in one place. Even now people like minimalist style, but everything is changing. So, you need to keep on trend, in order to survive in this industry.” Vichuda added.

Recently people have started to value design and it has become an art that attracts more attention.

“I think we have reached the point where we get access to the internet a lot, and now people share some house decorations. I think people start to realize that when they are in a good place, their mood is going to change. One more thing I notice is that now people accept a lot and open up to more design.”