Art Core at Core Design Gallery

Core Design Gallery in 360 Celcius Magazine

At the Core Design Gallery

From the outside one would be forgiven in thinking it’s just like any other double terrace house lining the street. Look closer though and you’ll see the name ˜Core Design Gallery’ proudly emblazoned on the front of the house. Upon entering the premises, it’s a whole different point of view.

The inspirational brainchild of husband and wife team Scarlette Lee and Chun Hooi Tan, Core Design Galleries (CDG) was established in 2009 as a new innovation in the ever-growing and vibrant art scene of Malaysia. A fusion of art gallery, design studio and live in home, CDG is a living concept that juxtaposes contemporary art, design and architecture not as separate elements, but as interrelated aspects of a whole.

For Scarlett and Chun art and design is not just about water color paintings hanging on plain gallery walls. Nor is it about expensive works stowed away in mansions only for private collectors and viewings. No, art is more than just paint on canvas or dusty collections. Their vision is about contemporary artistic works interacting with people and spaces. It is about lived in, living art. A piece of art looks different hanging in a gallery wall. How would it look in someone’s home? How would it interact with the lighting and spatial dimension of a residence? Similarly they want to raise public appreciation and awareness of the contemporary art form and make it accessible for everyone.
If you look at the new generation they are not interested in paddy fields and all those things. They are looking, seeing things like concrete jungles from a different perspective in their photography. They’re seeing installation works in a totally different light, explains Scarlett.

This philosophy is encapsulated in the physical layout of the Gallery itself. The lower floor has been completely opened up. The living room ceiling was dismantled and hacked away, revealing the steel reinforcement bars or BRC wire mesh underneath, which was then left bared and incorporated into the design of the gallery by hanging lamps and metal filigree to enhance its look. The sense of borderless space is enhanced with minimalist decor. The old fashioned parquet staircase was replaced with a clean steel version without hand rails. The lack of rails takes a while to get used to but with time it barely registers a second thought.

The support and assistance structures were left untouched. No finishing was applied. Instead the original cement render was left bare and naked with no touch ups. This is in line with their view that you don’t need to spend lavishly on Italian marble or granite to make the setting stylish. On the contrary, if the space can be made appealing even cement render adds to its overall look and design. It’s all about minimalism and getting back to basics in terms of design. Back to the core. That’s the genesis of the name Core Design Gallery.

Again it is inexpensive and it’s a matter of how to use inexpensive things in the right way. We didn’t spend a lot in renovating. The major cost is in hacking off a lot of walls. So what you are doing is a stripping off as to back to the originality of the house. said Chun. Core Design gallery is all about functionality, affordability and being contemporary. And that is the key word, contemporary.

For Malaysia Contemporary Art has been a driving passion for Scarlett. A pharmacist by training her first love had always been the arts and along with her design architect husband Chun, they set out to realize their dream. It is a passion that has seen her travel the length and breadth of the country in search of up and coming artists. You never imagine what kind of works they can do under some atap roof and come up with some amazing things, said Scarlett. She goes on to add. That is the most exciting part of the journey. To discover all these artists in our own backyard.

For these Malaysia Contemporary Artists to be discovered and groomed by CDG has its tangible benefits. The CDG vision for the relationship between the gallery and the artist is all about promotion, collaboration and development. We will sit down with him (the artist) and actually go through the process of development together on a weekly basis, said Scarlette.

The dream though, remains setting up a Workshop for artists, architects and designers to exchange and discuss ideas. Much like Core Design Gallery itself, it’s all about different aspects combined as a whole to bring forth art.

Reflecting their commitment in terms of promoting and raising the profile of Malaysia contemporary art and Malaysia Contemporary artists in Malaysia, CDG is at the forefront with themed and solo exhibitions highlighting some of the best of Malaysia’s contemporary artists and their works.

Themed exhibitions included the ˜ROAR of the Brutalists’, 7th Movement, the bizarre and aptly named ˜Cirque Du Freak’ and currently on show ˜Malaysian Landscape’. Their next exhibition will be ˜Ahmad Scissorhands’ where contemporary artists showcase works that explore inner turmoil skirting on the aspects of dream and reality, horror and fantasy .

Solo artists have included Ong Oh Hup Hoe with his 7th Heaven Series and Shafarin Ghani and his Oeuvre of Movement No 1. Both have garnered rave reviews on Malaysia Contemporary Art in the Malaysian media.

For his part Chun also runs the Design Workshop which integrates architecture, interior design and Malaysia contemporary art. CDG Workshop has developed client-based projects ranging in value from a few hundred thousand ringgit private residences, to multi-million dollar commercial properties.

Mailing Address
87, Jalan SS15/2A Subang Jaya
47500 Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA

Contact Person
Ms. Scarlette Lee
Office number : +603-56121168
Email :

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