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Heilam Choy


Today we’re sharing the home of a die-hard design enthusiast, whose tiny one bedroom apartment in Collingwood has been no limitation to his passion for collecting!  With the apt instagram moniker @thedesignhoarder, Heilam Choy has, over the past few years, amassed a seriously impressive collection of designer furniture, artwork, original design pieces and trinkets, all of which are displayed in museum-like order in his meticulously kept apartment.

21st January, 2015
Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 21st January 2015

Heilam Choy’s background is in Interior Design, with a current role as Visual Merchandising Designer at Country Road, conceptualising and designing window displays and special projects for the brand.  It follows, then, that his home has a certain level of ‘merchandising’ going on too… it’s the kind of space where favourite furniture pieces are on high rotation, and the steady stream of new acquisitions, (even on a tiny scale) are almost impossible to make room for! (I said almost!).

Heilam rents his apartment, and has lived here for just over two years.  ‘It’s a small one bedroom apartment with simple blank white walls, which luckily works perfectly as a backdrop to my collection of furniture, art and objects’ he says.  His aesthetic can only be described as ‘curated clutter’ – Heilam’s artful and ever-growing collection of furniture and objects form an important backdrop to his life – he is truly passionate about contemporary design, and has amassed a seriously impressive archive of classic contemporary furniture and objects, one obsession at a time!

‘I surround myself with things I love’ says Heilam. His collections range from classic iconic things such as Iittala Alvar Aalto vases (he has around 20), to Ittala kivi glass tea lights (up around 50!), an extensive collection of Stelton Cylinder Line pieces by Arne Jacobsen, to more obscure things such as local handmade ceramics and hand grafted plants. ‘I love things which showcase an appreciation / respect for design and design history, and at the same time can be a little less expected’ Heilam explains.  ‘I find myself constantly torn between being a modernist collector (i.e. simple clean timeless things) to a maximalist where I just simply want everything rich in character!’

When asked if there are any particular favourite items here, Heilam’s response is cautious.  ‘This could take some time…’ he says…!  After a little thought, Heilam explains that the Favela Chair by the Campana Brothers (from Space Furniture) is one of his most recent substantial purchases. ‘I love the fact that it is randomly handmade from raw pine, and nailed together to form a rough shape of an armchair’ he explains. ‘Its not necessarily the most comfortable or practical chair, but it is beautiful to look at and I enjoy the naivety and modern take on traditional craftsmanship’.

Another all time favourite, and probably the most distinctive element in Heilam’s apartment is his INSANE ‘Up 7 Giant Foot’ by Gaetano Pesce fro B&B Italia (also from Space).  ‘This one is definitely one of my oddest purchases’ Heilam admits!  ‘It’s made from solid black lacquered foam, it’s unique and becomes quite a talking piece when friends drop by!  I don’t have a foot fetish at all, but I love the fact its a highly impractical piece of furniture – its not really a seat its just really an object / sculpture. Its just playful and silly and I like that’ Heilam says, matter of factly.

Though he is an unashamed fan of European and American classic design pieces, Heilam is also a huge supporter of local makers. Amongst his extensive collection of handmade ceramics, local crafters including Anchor Ceramics, Bridget Bodenham, Weakend Club, Kim Jaeger, Tessy King and Jessilla Rogers are all represented. ‘I just love these, as each vessel has its own unique characteristics and personality’ Heliam says.

With such a tiny little pad, Heilam’s much loved local neighbourhood is an important extension of his home.  ‘Collingwood is amazing’ he says.  ‘It’s got the perfect blend of grit and polish. Its still a bit raw and humble and it always feels exciting’.

Huge thanks to Heilam for sharing his world with us today – he is well worth following on insta.

Heilam’s tiny indoor ‘garden’ – ceramics by Kim Jaeger, Cody Hoyt, Jessilla Rogers, the crazy cracked / smashed black vases are by Studio Dror for Rosenthal, plants range from succulents, hoyas, and elephants foot plants. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins /The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email