Man at His Best

The Embodiment

From pewter to lipstick, Jarrod Lim mirrors his multifaceted designs in both disposition and principle.

BY Franchesca Liauw | May 23, 2016 | Arts

“It represents what it is.” Slender hands come together, fingers grip softly to fingers. A nervous tick contradicts his clear, crisply-accented words. He’s confident in his awkwardness; it’s almost purposeful, it’s most definitely appealing. “Crystalline seemed good because it means a crystal-like appearance, but not necessarily made of crystal.” Jarrod Lim is speaking of his new collaboration with Royal Selangor: a sleek, geometrically-pleasing collection of tea lights, candle stands, a jug, and salt and pepper shakers. His words might be describing his work, but he might as well be speaking about himself. 

Lim, like most artists, is his work. Clean, purposeful, yet riddled with feeling. “Function must exist, but people still need to connect with the product in a more emotional way,” he says. With his own furniture and inexpensive wooden handicrafts, Lim proves that he’s a versatile designer, one who’s able to design both for the more affluent consumer like those that patronise Royal Selangor, and for the average, slightly design-concerned, twenty-something couple. Even Lim’s process mirrors life’s trials. “There’s a lot of research at the start. Seeing what’s possible, what the material is like,” he says. “Then I sketch, and I sketch a lot. I make models. I make models to realise size, to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s just a lot of testing.” And it shows. 

From his first award winner, The Streamline Chair, which is both indoor and outdoor versatile, curved yet comfortable, to his Hi Ho Rocking Horse, a modern twist on the classic children’s toy, in teak with sheepskin, to his present-day Crystalline collection, it is obvious that Lim’s work cannot exist without fully realising the balancing act that comes with being a designer. It is a balancing act that has probably existed within him since birth, within the marriage of cultures, half-Singaporean, half-Australian, the ever-blurring line of East meets West. “I think that’s the role of the designer—to balance the purely aesthetic with the technical, to try and find a good medium to input all the different aspects of the company, the material, the processing, the end-users’ desires, the price, the everything,” he adds.

While discussing his current endeavours, Lim continues to enrapture with a charming combination of fast-paced, geeky humour and calm practicality. Currently, he’s designing a lipstick case for a new cosmetics company. “I didn’t really know anything about lipstick cases! I had to ask my wife,” he confesses. “I went to Sephora and started analysing other people’s cases. Now I know a lot about lipstick.”

As for what lies ahead, well, the future is just as varied as his present, with a flurry of interior projects approaching, from a wedding venue in Bali, to custom interiors for other designers and architects, to furniture for a hotel in the Maldives. Methodical, with a Midas touch for the modern aesthetic, Lim is the living embodiment of his work. Clean lines, sleek without ornamentation, direct, to the point. He is what he is—the artist and the builder.

From: Esquire Singapore's May 2016 issue.