Profile: Kelley Cheng

Kelley Cheng has been described by her peers as a ‘tour de force of Singaporean creativity’. A three-time Society of Publishers Asia award-winning editor and creative director, Kelley is also a published author whose coffee table books have appeared in ten languages. In addition she is a self-proclaimed pop culture junkie, who abandoned her architecture degree to become a full-time writer and photographer for ID magazine. Her subsequent 12 years in the industry has seen her publish her own magazine, Ish, become editor-in-chief of Singapore Architect and, two years ago, founding The Press Room.

The Press Room is a publishing and design consultancy that seeks to find new dimensions and language in publishing and design. With the philosophy that design is about good ideas, Cheng confidently turns her hand to anything from books to bars.

Night and Day bar 1

Cheng’s love of architecture was indulged in the revamp of 40-year-old magazine Singapore Architect, which is published by the Singapore Institute of Architects. During the design process, SIA gave her a free reign creatively, which she believes is down to the mutual respect she had with her commissioners as designers. ‘A big part of it is because, as architects, they know about the kind of freedom that one has to grant a designer to help us to produce our best work.’

Cheng’s first art bar, created in 2007, saw her extend her reach from graphics to interior design. Night and Day is a space that feels as if it belongs in Berlin, which she designed for creative types to come together and exchange ideas over a drink. Cheng invited 12 artist friends to illustrate the walls and then left pens around for the clientele to also make their marks. Another foray into interior design in 2009 was 15 Minutes, a bar and café in the Lasalle College of Art which provides students with a stage on which to claim their 15 minutes of fame.

Nurturing emerging talent is also a focal point for Cheng. She regularly gives talks, taking care to instil her creative passion in the young designers who pass through her doors. In doing so, she hopes she can pass on an understanding and a love of design that will filter through to the rest of Singaporean society.

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