Melissa Mae Tan

Specialized in Furniture Design.

Melissa Mae Tan

About Melissa Mae Tan

Melissa has been practicing architecture in the Philippines for the past 10 years. Her practice mainly focused on retail and residential projects, which exposed her to the scarcity of well designed and affordable local furniture pieces. With the help of her father's furniture manufacturing company, she decided to delve into furniture design in order to address the need and to explore a design language different from what she has grown used to. She aims to create affordable and stylish pieces relevant to the region because she believes that good design should be accessible to everyone.

  • Winner of the A' Design Award.
  • Specialized in Furniture Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Furniture
Haleiwa Chair

Haleiwa Chair

Furniture Design

Good Design Deserves Great Recognition

Nominate Your Work for the A' Design Award.


Interview with Melissa Mae Tan

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I have a bachelors degree in architecture from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. I have always been interested in the aesthetics of objects and buildings and loved creating things with my hands.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Beyond Function is a newly formed company that was created with the intention of proving local design and craftsmanship can be at par if not better for the local market.
What is "design" for you?
Design for me is purposeful aesthetics. It isn't just about looking good, but about having intention.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
I am trained in architecture and I enjoy that as well as interiors. In line with those, I recently got the opportunity to design furniture and accessories for the new company we started.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
i'm most drawn to minimalist designs. i believe that it takes mush more talent to design something beautiful with just simple elements, getting the right balance between something and nothing.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
the first project i worked on for a company was the design of a beach resort
When do you feel the most creative?
i feel that creativity strikes at any time. there is so much in the world that can inspire us, but my favorite inspiration is that from unexpected sources.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
i'm drawn to the small details when designing, whether its a structure, an interior space or a piece of furniture.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
i feel joy when i am inspired and i'm excited to share my designs with people.
What makes a design successful?
a successful design for me is when i feel at peace with the final output. though i acknowledge that refining the design is not out of the question, when i feel complacency with the general idea, i know that it is a success for me.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
first impressions usually make or break a certain design however i am one for giving the story behind the design an equal weight.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
the designer must always take into consideration the effects and consequences of their design to the immediate surroundings and environment, especially the users. it must not be a design just for the sake of design, but it must have a purpose.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
design is becoming more aware of the environment and this is a very good step forward because design is everywhere and is being used daily.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
my inspiration comes from unexpected experiences, through travel, daily encounters and others.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
my style is simple in the big picture point of view but further scrutiny will reveal small details that are meticulously thought through
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
living in the Philippines has definitely affected my design style. it is a more relaxed style but with sophistication in its own way. the Philippines is a good experimental ground for design because we have a lot manpower to help us bring our designs to life. however, i often think about how complacent builders are with their processes, so sometimes the result can be quite conservative.
How do you work with companies?
i am fortunate enough to have easy access to the manufacturing company of our family. I feel comfortable explaining my designs to the builders so they understand the intent of the design.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
my suggestion is to find out the design style and personality of the designer and see if it matches your companies values, style and personality as well. this way the design process will be smoother and quicker.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
it is always a good thing to have the capability to translate thoughts to physical design, but there is always that part of you that is very hard to please, because we are our own biggest critics.
What skills are most important for a designer?
it is most important to be able to clearly interpret what is in your thoughts into something tangible
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
i usually set time aside for creating, its not always followed because there are many things that distract me, but htye are always welcome because i believe i still learn from these distractions
What was your most important job experience?
being an architect has exposed me to a lot of difference situations and i have learned so many things from all those
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
i may have taken a pause from architecture but i plan to create my own studio in the future combining different fields of design
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
i always like working with a team because i believe that an outsiders perspective is always important. sometimes you can be too close to your work that you cant see the big picture.

Extended Interview with Melissa Mae Tan

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I finished my bachelors in architecture at the university of santo tomas in manila, philippines
How did you become a designer?
ive always been into creating things since i was young. i like the idea of physically seeing my work, the process, the finished product.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
i chose architecture as my major because i like the science aspect of the art
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
i have designed buildings, homes, retail interiors, and most recently, furniture and accessories
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
do not limit your imagination and keep creating whatever is in your mind
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
both good and great designers create beautiful things but great designers create with intent and meaning
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
i believe that really good designs arent just pleasing to the eyes but are also carefully thought through. small details that are barely noticeable but create a large impact on the piece
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
good design gives satisfaction to the user both visually, emotionally and physically. seeing things that are well designed for the first time or the hundredth time will still give the same satisfying feeling.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
the secret to design is to keep on refining. there is always room to improve
Who is your favourite designer?
my favorite project would be the residential triplex project i designed. the best part i believe is the layout, flow and relationship of the houses.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
accepting mistakes and flaws, it may be very difficult to hear them but we all need to grow and learn from them
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
Design for me is purposeful aesthetics. It isn't just about looking good, but about having intention.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
with furniture design, my father is most important because he started manufacturing furniture in the 70s and he has been a great mentor and inspiration. his company has been a great help to my design journey.

Stay Updated with Latest Design News

By clicking Sign-Up, you are opting to receive promotional emails from A' Design Awards, World Design Rankings, World Design Consortium and Designers.Org You can update your preferences or unsubscribe any time.

You are now at the right step

Join & Start Promoting Your Design Worldwide.

Create an Account