Colin Seah

Founder and Director of Design, Ministry of Design (MOD)

Colin Seah is an architect and designer who, through his work, has made an indelible imprint on the built landscape of Singapore and beyond. Not only does he conceive projects that stand the test of time, he is a proponent of design that is thoughtful and experiential, a supporter of art and photography and a man with a clear view of what great creativity can bring to people and place.

As the Founder and Director of Design at Ministry of Design (MOD), Seah advocates exemplary ingenuity on every level and the proof is a burgeoning portfolio of projects that span the breadth of architecture, landscape, interiors, master plans, signage, product, graphics, art curation and installation and brand strategy.

It wasn’t until Seah was 24 that there came a moment in time, one could almost say an epiphany, where the idea of pursuing the profession of architecture came to the young man and simply never left.

While Seah’s siblings, a brother and sister, travelled to Australia for their tertiary education, the budding architect enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson in the US to complete his Master of Architecture.

Before completing his studies, Seah took up a summer internship with OMA and then returned to complete his course and was named ‘Student of the Year’. He was offered a position with the LA architect, Kate Diamond then moved to Rebecca L Binder’s studio but in 2000 he felt the need to visit home.

While his working life was on the rise, Seah felt there was something missing and the trip back to see family also meant time with his father who advised his son to “re-visit what you’re living for” – wise words to help find the inner peace and meaning that seemed elusive. On his return to the US there was a mix up with his visa and he immediately flew back to Singapore and this time he stayed.

Seah secured a position at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore and taught for the next four years. He had married Joy Chan and they moved to their first apartment together where the architect renovated their home, making a lot from a little. Serendipitously one evening, a dinner guest was given a tour of the apartment and admired its features. This person was at the beginning of his business as a hotelier and invited Seah to become the interior designer on his next development. Taking the plunge Seah left university life and established his own practice, Ministry of Design (MOD) with Joy as co-director, and in 2004 work began.

The project was The New Majestic Hotel and the design of this boutique accommodation destination was an immediate success. With a mix of heritage and contemporary architecture and interiors, art and sophistication, both the interior designer and the developer triumphed, and also changed the direction of hospitality design in Singapore forever.

From the success of The New Majestic Hotel other commissions followed and continue today. However, all projects have one thing in common, each Questions, Disturbs and Redefines, the MOD credo.

While the main studio is in Singapore, Seah is moving away from the idea of physically based offices, replacing them with hubs or workshops where regionally remote team members can congregate when required. Colin Seah is an outstanding example of what a Luminary is, someone who creates architecture and design that shapes our world for the better.

The full article can be read in Indesign issue 91 and on Indesignlive here. Words by Jan Henderson.


Ministry of Design (MOD)