Apolline, design director, singapore
Hey Apolline! Thanks for taking time to catch up with us today. How did you get into design?
Growing up, my house was a hub for creative thinking. My mom was an architect and our living room was full of tracing paper, she was always drawing. I was fascinated by it and she would always take the time to show me what she was doing. So, in my spare time, I would draw, do pottery and craft.
When it came time to pick a course to study, for me, it was a no brainer it would be design related. I picked interior design because I felt it was an industry that was human centric where I could have a bit impact on people. The design you create has a direct impact on how people live, work, and operate on a day-to-day basis.
What brought you to FITCH?
When I arrived in London to study, I was mentored by someone who had been at FITCH. He was very inspiring—could draw well and design great experiences. I started looking at FITCH as a company and was drawn to the bold thinking and culture within the agency. I also really liked how humans are at the heart of the design process. I made it my aim to work there, and luckily I applied and got a job straight away. I started off in the London office and moved to the Singapore office a few years ago.
What have been your favourite projects to work on at FITCH?
I’ll pick a favourite from Singapore and London.
In Singapore, my favourite project has been designing the Microsoft APAC Office because it was a challenge and as a designer, I really enjoy this kind of challenge. I’ve been involved in the process from the pitch to handing over keys to the client—it’s been a great learning curve and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. Going back to the human side of things, I loved that we got to speak to employees and make a really great experience for them. I also really enjoyed the scale of the decisions I could be involved in, from suggesting details to influence employee experiences.
In London, my favourite project was to design a future focused experience centre for Arcelik, a leading Turkish homeware brand. It was voted Turkey’s favourite brand for 9 years and it was part of our job to ensure it stayed this way. Not only was it a great collaboration within the London studio as we achieved great results (won Outstanding Design of The Year at the World Retail Awards) but also was very rewarding working with the clients. The clients were willing to push thinking and go beyond the expected. It was exciting!
How was your transition from FITCH London to FITCH Singapore? What are the benefits of working in different markets, and would you recommend other designers, given the opportunity, to do the same?
The transition was made easier going between FITCH offices—it’s great to be part of a global agency where thinking and culture can be the same between offices across countries. It was also a huge learning curve and feel like I grew a lot with the move.
The main benefit or moving, and working in a different market, was learning and adapting to cultural differences. In Asia, there is no blanket mindset, two countries might share a border but they are completely different. Each country is so unique, while humans share a lot of similarities, ultimately they are shaped by their environments so our designs and thinking have to reflect that.
So, yes, I’d really recommend other designers do the same. It encourages you to push your thinking creatively and strategically. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and challenge your existing mindset. Any opportunity to gain new experiences is valuable personally and professionally.
Where do you find creative inspiration in Singapore and around the region?
It’s an interesting question and has changed a lot for me throughout the years.
In London, I used to find inspiration at galleries, museums, exhibitions—it was my main source. In Singapore and around the region, while I do go to museums once in a while, I tend to find inspiration when I travel. From Indonesian Batik to Singaporean Peranakan, each country has a history steeped in local design. I love learning about these—heritage is really important to understand a place. I also go to the epicentre of cities to explore local markets, business districts and historic centres—you get the contrast of old and new. I love observing human behaviour and interaction here, you can learn a lot. Really, you walk around and find inspiration everywhere.
In the studio we talk about creative ideas often, in our weekly FriYay sessions people are able to share what they’ve seen and anything coming up in Singapore. We are also always updating our MustSee channel on Instagram with things we’ve seen of interest around the world. We’re always on the pulse and sharing information—it’s the best way to learn!
What advice do you have for new talent wanting to get into the industry?
New talent is something I’m really passionate about. I set up FITCH Raw, an internship programme working with local design schools, in Singapore a few years ago. I’m really looking to nurture talent both in the studio and outside. I want to give junior designers a voice and confidence, foster innovation and push their thinking. I feel that bold and creative thinking can only be achieved if people are in a supportive and vibrant environment, I try and make others feel comfortable so they aren’t intimidated to express their ideas, and even challenge mine.
For those looking to get into the industry—be confident and persevere. Knock on doors to find opportunities and take ownership of your talent!