When You Know Deep Down That You Are Special

By UOW Malaysia KDU

When you say you are “bohemian”, you mean that you exclude yourself from conventional rules of society.

You are carefree and lighthearted, you value friendship and above all, you are creative.

Maybe you can draw something that makes everyone stop and look. Maybe you write unique turns of phrases that pull deep emotions out of your every reader.

Maybe you sing with such passion that people cry when they listen to you.

When you are bohemian, you seem different and maybe even strange, yet whatever you create makes people happy.

There is a place now in Penang where bohemians might find solace while enjoying coffee. And cake.

It is called Utoo Boho Café along Victoria Street, deep in the heart of George Town’s Unesco World Heritage Site, and the place was designed by bohemians.

Alex Chan and Teok Kah Eng, both 25, earned their Diploma in Interior Design at UOW Malaysia in 2019 and 2018 respectively but before that, they already had a flair for drawing plus a high level of spatial intelligence.

“Since I was a kid, I liked keeping our home neat and putting up decorations. But neat is always more important than decorations,” Chan reminisced with a laugh.

After thorough consultation with education advisers at UOW Malaysia, both decided that the Diploma in Interior Design was their best bet for a rewarding future and on the campus, they met and became friends.

Long story short, upon graduating, they both chose to take a shot at the path of entrepreneurship instead of looking for jobs, and so they formed Norm Design Studio, choosing the word “norm” simply because they admit they have been challenging norms all their lives.

Chan is the managing director and Teoh is the creative director.

After getting their fair share of troubles brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the pair began lobbying diligently for contracts and their creativity brought results.

Their design of Utoo Boho Café won many awards in the recent Atap Design Awards (ADA) 2022.

ADA is regarded as one of the pinnacles of interior design excellence recognition in Malaysia, and the design for Utoo Boho Café earned Norm Design Studio the awards for Best Café Design, Best Theme, and the Rising Star Award in the 2022 instalment.

To date, Chan said Utoo Boho Café is regularly fully booked for customers planning special wedding proposals and birthday events.

The pair chose a classic bohemian theme and opted for an earthy colour scheme. They included in the café a mix of floor-seating on plush cushions plus table-seating for those who need to spend some time there working on laptops.

The totality of the decorations makes you just want to sit back, forget about life’s troubles, drink coffee and get to know your friends better.

Personal flair aside, Chan attributed their success to gaining industry recognition in such a relatively short time to the time they spent at UOW Malaysia.

“At the campus, we gained a deeper understanding of the creative side of built environment designs.

“Every day, we got hands-on design experience, but there was strong emphasis on project management, realistic project costing, and the application of cutting-edge digital technologies,” he said.

To speak with UOW Malaysia education advisers on how to proceed based on your natural talents, make an appointment via www.uow.edu.my


20 February 2023


Success Stories


UOW Malaysia KDU

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