Let’s be honest here; the whole cliché of ‘taking over the family business’ is as played out as it can get. The struggle of choosing between honouring the family’s legacy or breaking the mould to find your own place in the world.
Growing up, Nazrin Shahnaz Peer Mohamed had no intention of running a business, especially after seeing her parents' struggle with their own. No, she had plans to do her folks proud by becoming a doctor.
But, as life would have it, things didn’t quite turn out that way.
“In a twist, not only did I take over the family business; I discovered a passion for healthcare interior design, and decided to have my business focus solely in that direction.”
Now, Nazrin is the proud founder of Shahnaz Healthcare Interiors, an interior design firm bent on improving the lives of healthcare patients and staff alike through the wonders of holistic and thoughtful design.
Before taking her rightful place as the successor of her family’s business in 2015, the interior design firm already had a 10-year long history in the industry as Shahnaz Interiors. At the time, the firm still took on projects from other sectors of the industry including residential, hospitality, government offices and universities.
“But I didn’t enjoy what I was doing,” confesses Nazrin. “It was only in 2019 when we had the opportunity to work on the interior for KPJ Manjung that it felt like we had found our breakthrough.”
Despite being the first healthcare project the company had ever handled, this put them on the map and garnered their work recognition from media outlets such as TV3, NTV7, TV9, and the top management at KPJ HQ.
“It also became evident to us, after talking to other clients, architects and consultants, that there was a growing demand for healthcare interiors. From that day onwards, we decided to only focus on healthcare projects,” Nazrin tells us.
And so Shahnaz Interiors saw its rebirth as Shahnaz Healthcare Interiors.
This business module change also called for an evolution in design focus, with many of their clients opting for more modern and practical concepts —something the founder herself terms as ‘functional luxury.’ But like any designer who’s worth their Adobe program, there’s one question they must always ask themselves with any project: what makes a good design?
“I believe that a design is considered good when it's practical, and—in our business—, when it goes that extra mile to ensure it’s practical for the patients, their families and the nurses,” answers Nazrin.
And before heading to the drawing board, the young entrepreneur makes sure to understand her clients’ expectations and to listen to any underlying perceptions that her team may need to tackle, including the importance of key design philosophies that need to be at the forefront of creating the perfect healing space.
“Hospital interiors are always backed by evidence. The choices of colours, furniture, textures, acoustic and lighting; all of these little elements come together to elevate a hospital’s perception, and in turn, provides its residents with a satisfying experience” explains Nazrin.
“Small things like making a point to have the matron of the hospital explain the nurses’ routine at the OT counter to us so that we can better cater to them and adjust each counter accordingly in a way that doesn’t obstruct their workflow make the biggest differences.”
With all that said then, what does someone who found their calling creating holistic spaces for a living have to say about our country’s growing interior design scene then? With the influx of new designers ready to make their own make on the industry, the young founder is confident it’s only the beginning.
“Interior design is still relatively new in the industry and has yet to grow to its full potential. Previously, interior design was done by architects but this is slowly becoming a changing trend, There are many promising interior designers in Malaysia with bolder designs who can take the industry to the next level,” Nazrin shares.
“I am motivated each day to prove to that interior design is an important component of any renovation process and should be taken seriously as such.”
Penny For Your Thought
How would you define a “good life” versus a “successful life”?
A good life is a life full of blessings, surrounded by the many people who cheer you on when you win, and cry with you when you face turbulent times. A successful life is when you make all the heads turn as soon as you enter a room, and you can grip people’s attention with just your speech!
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
I once travelled throughout the UK on a solo trip, and visited London, Manchester, Birmingham and the other neighbouring cities before I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree at the University of Sussex.
Advice you would give to your younger self?
Never undermine yourself; because if you don’t find the courage to build bigger dreams for yourself, no one else will.
What was a question you would’ve liked me to ask, but would like me to ask the next interviewee?
What would your ideal life look like in the next 5 years…?