As the property market in Phnom Penh continues to become more diverse and sophisticated, demand for high-end interior design for homes, businesses and offices has grown apace.
One of the first companies to address this market, I Ching Decor, has spent the past decade growing and adapting to the changing needs and conditions of the capital’s increasingly dynamic property sector.
Founded in 2003, the interior design company has evolved into a team of dedicated professionals capable of providing everything from custom furniture to full-package refurbishment. With its team of metalworkers, glassworkers, upholsterers, furniture makers and experienced handymen, I Ching offers full-spectrum interior solutions for a wide range of clients. As general manager Benita Sharpe puts it: “The only thing we don’t do is build houses.”
I Ching fittingly takes its name from the Chinese philosophical classic of the same name, also known as the Book of Changes. Now, after years of helping clients bring change to their spaces, I Ching Decor itself is also changing.
After more than three years as I Ching’s head designer, Sharpe recently took on the general manager position and is taking the company in new directions.
In addition to the design services it has always provided its clients, I Ching is now adding a new offering to its palette: artwork, vases and other extra touches that customers previously had to sort out themselves.
Susan Winchester, manager of I Ching’s office on Sothearos Boulevard across from the Sofitel, said that the new focus on home accessories in addition to furniture grew out of necessity.
“Finding quality artwork and accessories for projects was difficult at times, especially when trying to stay within the client’s budget,” Winchester said. “You can go to places like Street 178, but most of the stores have very similar artwork.”
Through its relationship with local artists and artisans, I Ching is now able to offer affordable solutions for the extra details that complete a design or refurbishment project.
“We want to push the boundaries while keeping it affordable,” she said.
Not only has I Ching changed, but the Phnom Penh market which it serves has changed in recent years.
I Ching project manager Van Dana said that since joining the company in 2008, her clientele has evolved steadily.
“When I first started at I Ching, most of the customers were Westerners – the Cambodians that came in were usually shocked by the price,” Van said. “But over the last few years more and more Cambodians have come to us looking for new ideas.”
London native Sharpe said that she works with Van and I Ching’s team of local designers to integrate complementary elements of Cambodian and Western sensibilities to create unique designs for clients.
“We have four full-time Cambodian designers and they do a fantastic job,” she said. “There are more and more quality designers coming out of schools here.”
Today, I Ching’s clientele is roughly half Cambodian and half foreign, with around 75 per cent of design projects for residential customers and the remaining 25 per cent commercial, Sharpe said.
“We seem to be getting approached by more restaurants,” Winchester added. “Before there was not much of a need for restaurants to think about more than their menus, but now with the increased competition, more establishments are understanding the importance of design in setting your business apart from the crowd.”
As for how I Ching sets itself apart from the crowd, Winchester said that in addition to quality design services, the company prides itself in its customer service.
“We value our customers and we always want to get things right – no matter how big or small the project we try and follow up to make sure they’re satisfied.”
I Ching Decor is located at 85 Sothearos Boulevard, it can be reached at 023 220 873 or via [email protected].