Who started it? Hong Kong interior designer Timothy Cheng worked for Norman Foster's British architectural firm before striking out on his own last year. He is the co-founder and project director of TiRon Interior Architecture, which specialises in applying architectural theories to interior design. Why architecture? 'My schoolboy interests in art and maths were encouraged by teachers,' Cheng says, adding that his decision to pursue architecture owed much to his time at Foster + Partners. How did he get where he is? After his two-year stint there, he returned to Hong Kong in 2003 and worked with architecture and interior-design companies as a senior designer. 'Last year I set up my own firm in partnership with TiRon design director Ronald Lam, hence the name TiRon - the first few letters of our names. 'We focus on office and residential designs, specialising in integrating the latest technology to produce a more cohesive look. Clients include a number of prestigious financial firms, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.' Cheng is also the Hong Kong Interior Design Association's chairman of public relations and a part-time lecturer at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education and Hong Kong Productivity Council. What inspires his designs? Cheng has a philosophical attitude towards design, approaching it as 'interior architecture'. This involves designing a space so it can speak for itself, he says, 'even without the benefit of finishes or colour'. There's 'more focus on space planning and form, which follows function'. How does this philosophy influence his work? Cheng's Sculptor of Light (below), a unique multifunctional lamp that can sit on the floor or be hung from the ceiling, was recently runner up in the fourth Hong Kong Lighting Design Competition. The 430mm mood lamp reflects Cheng's philosophy towards interior design. 'We have to find a balance between practicality and beauty,' he says. 'We use lighting a lot in our work and it's an important part in designing a space and setting the mood.' Cheng used a curved abstract form with slots that can control the amount of light flowing through. This, he says, is used as a physical metaphor to encourage people to re-think their own space and time. Is design being democratised? 'People are starting to appreciate their quality of living,' he says. 'Previously they didn't care what their home looked like and only rich clients hired designers. Now even people with small flats want interior designers. If you're spending millions, then spend a little bit extra on a designer. It will help to improve your life and provide a more comfortable and relaxing environment.' Plans for the future? 'We are considering designing furniture, because we get a lot of requests for custom made pieces and we think there is a demand for our products,' he says.