SKY Creation is an interior design consultancy which has, since its inception in 2008, evolved into a multi-disciplinary enterprise, with complementary businesses spanning the management of renovation works, carpentry and the sale of home accessories. This diversification was made in the interest of wresting control over the supply chain, and to capture portions of the market that the company believes are falling through the cracks.
Homeowners who think they do not need an interior designer because they can go the DIY route still have reason to go to Sky Creation for what they need for those home DIY jobs or for home accessories in its online shop.
The company's 20,000 square feet carpentry workshop in Johor Bahru, set up two years ago, has enabled it to go from being a business-to-consumer or B2C outfit to being one that cuts business-to-business or B2B deals as well; some of the modular products manufactured in the workshop are for businesses.
Sky Creation has another competitive edge: its push to go green. Sky Tan, the chief executive of Sky Creation, said: "We are the first interior design and renovation firm to be green-certified."
Indeed, the company has amassed numerous environmental accreditations since 2009, including the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, the Singapore Green Label and the BCA Green Mark.
Astley Ng, the company's regional design principal, said: "Most of the time, people associate green concepts with buildings, and not so much with the interior; but if you think about it, in all urban environments, you spend 80 to 90 per cent of your time indoors.
"As interior designers, we can play a vital role in affecting patterns of usage in an interior environment."
When designing a living room, for example, the company would advise its clients to adopt energy-saving down-lights, master controls for power switches and green-label emulsion paint after explaining to them why these are the better choices. Mr Ng said: "This helps to change mindsets about what interior design is in Singapore."
The industry, largely unregulated and with relatively low barriers to entry, is not highly respected, as it is.
"When we started to go green, we became more professional. This distinguishes us from our peers in the industry," he said. Sky Creation's environmental consciousness is not limited to projects in its core business.
In its workshop across the Causeway, its craftsmen strive for zero wastage by understanding the natural limitations of their building materials and maximising their usage accordingly. The company is looking to send the sawdust, a by-product of their woodwork, for recycling. Mr Ng said: "Our vision has always been to be a strong green voice in Asia."
Sky Creation now operates out of four branches in Singapore, and has a branch each in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. The company is looking into expanding into Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia in the next three to five years.
In the longer term, it has set its sights on establishing a presence in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea through design partnerships.
With the company aware of the risks that come with over-expansion, it will, for the moment, keep its supplementary businesses here, as it is unwilling to let manpower, logistics and infrastructure issues erode the quality of its workmanship, said Mr Ng. But both he and Dr Tan are confident they can ride on the Singapore brand name when they venture into the region.
Mr Ng said he expects the company's focus on environmental consciousness to make the difference abroad. The firm's environmental accreditations and years of consultancy experience in cosmopolitan Singapore are good reasons for foreign clients to buy into Sky Creation's business model, he added.
Dr Tan too is upbeat about the company's growth prospects in Asia. Today, approximately half its revenue is generated from its local businesses, but he plans to shift the balance to make offshore jobs contribute the lion's share of revenue.
Revenue growth for this year is projected to slow to between 8 per cent and 12 per cent, but he remains confident of achieving year-on-year growth of 30 per cent for the next three years. He has his eye on winning one of the awards handed out to small and medium-sized businesses in the Emerging Enterprise Awards this year.
He declined to disclose revenue figures, but it should be noted that one criterion for applicants of the award is that their annual sales turnover should not have exceeded S$15 million in the last financial year.
Mr Ng said: "We want to win the award because we hope to use a huge portion of the funds to go into research; that will really give us the edge and lend weight to our green venture."
Sky Creation also plans to inculcate in Singapore's budding interior designers a greater awareness in environmental sustainability. This month, it is launching the inaugural Singapore Green Interior Design Competition, which will give contestants the opportunity to learn from their Sky Creation mentors and win cash prizes.
Mr Ng said: "By and by, we can foster a community, and going green is all about fostering a community - many people coming together for one common goal."