Interview with Callum D MacBean - Asia Principal for Interiors at B+H

After working alongside the Global Board at B+H to hire their new Asia Principal for Interiors, we sat down with Callum and discussed his thoughts & his goal for the year ahead. (Note: Callum is a truly great guy and massively experienced, it's a great read!)



In joining B+H Architects and the global network of talent, my goal is to build a strategic platform in the sector of Interior Design across Asia, which is inspirational, culturally relevant and that generates value driven innovative solutions that will lead to transformative design for all our clients.

Building on the Interior Design base that B+H has in Asia, my goal is to grow the Interior Design Sector by attracting the best dynamic creative design talent, and focussing on supporting our clients with a holistic approach to design as a strategy to enhance our client’s business needs.
True to the B+H Design Culture of being ‘Bold + Human’, and by understanding the business of design, my goal is to build an integrated Interior Design Practice that is focussed on high performance design and great results, that adds value to our clients business, and which is delivered by an experienced and driven team of passionate professionals who have fun and want to create a better future through visionary and sustainable design by enhancing the human experience of Interior spaces.


From an early age I have always been passionate about creating, art and building, whether it is writing, painting or playing with Lego. As my professional career has grown, my passion has focussed on building creative inspiring spaces to improve the quality of life of people through great design, to help building a business for all to succeed.

I am motivated to do great work that can be transformational and inspire positivity in others, and the creative design profession impacts so many people, that truly great design can change lives for the better. Growing a business with passionate people who embrace the culture of teamwork and collaboration with high performance and great results, while also having fun at the same time, is what I love to do. The why I do it, are the results.

People need to love what they do, as along with Faith, Family and Friendship, if you are fortunate enough to choose what you can do, the reason you will be successful, is if you have passion, talent and really love what you do.
Inspirational design truly transforms lives, and a satisfied client supports great business, and an inspirational and passionate leader allows others to succeed. I have been very fortunate to have experienced all.


Every project has the potential to be great, and like a great chef, the design team needs to work with the ingredients and be creative. The basis of any great project, starts with a great client. Design is a collaborative process, and the best clients (like the best design professionals) work together to realise the vision of the project, culture of the firm, and share the same values all within the agreed quality, budget, programme and schedule need to be purposeful and meaningful, and as such great design can really improve the quality of life and so build a better world. I believe that this is a professional responsibility.

Great projects always reflect the client and the design team, consultants, contractors and suppliers working together to an agreed set of parameters. Truly great projects, push the boundaries of design and stretch the client beyond the edge of their comfort zone, and so achieve something unexpected creating an even more exciting user experience.

Great clients are the ones who push the design team to deliver more than they think they can. What ‘needs to be achieved’ is different than what ‘can be achieved’. The latter must always be pushed.

The key to the above is communication and teamwork, and knowing and trusting each other to go above and beyond. When you see a great project, the experience is all emotion, a stimulation of the senses that makes you love the space.


Design as a creative process is constantly facing challenges, and to be honest, if there were no challenges there would be no opportunities and areas to push boundaries. Design challenges also vary, depending where you are located in the world, and the size and type of project. The impacts of Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic and Political drivers are all factors in change.

With globalisation, demographic shifts, and the rapidly emerging technologies, the design sector continually needs to evolve to embrace the constant changes of a developing world. The pandemic is also pushing design firms to adapt and evolve. Businesses need to be competitive and relevant, and the design sector needs to push boundaries in seeing culture as a strategy, where inclusivity in organisational structures has a focus on acquisition, cultivation and retention of top talent.

In the workplace sector, design spaces that support effective social engagement, collaboration, a focus on culture building, learning, and mentorship, need an orchestrated solution through effective design thought leadership. Design sector firms need to fully understand the impact of individual amenities and alternative workspaces as it relates to performance, and see the clients business as a driver to the solution that can be delivered in a sustainable way. All firms compete on performance and purpose, and creating a truly balanced workspace that has individual focus, collaborative spaces and supports an interactive catalyst for creativity, vision and sector purpose that supports the client culture, is the opportunity for design. Firms that embrace diversity and inclusivity as it relates to employee experience will succeed where others will fail.

Creating smart spaces that facilitate agile working, are resilient and sustainable and encourage technology as a positive disruptor, will be the norm of the workplace. The differentiator will be the brand and culture of the firm and the ability of the design sector to inspire and lead positively to create a great experience in an environment that is being constantly impacted by change.


The Design world is constantly changing, developing, learning, growing, so as not to react but to inspire and create, and be proactive to drive innovation. In 2021, the impact of a post-covid environment will lead to a fundamental shift in how we view space. Supporting health & well-being was always important to most clients, but now it is paramount to a firm’s success or failure.

Great design has always been about creating user experience that balances supporting the value of culture and mission, functional and effective space, the interaction of social catalytic space and personal behaviour as the use and experimentation of space. In 2021, resilient and sustainable spaces which optimise mechanical and new technologies which minimize energy use will be designed as intelligent smart spaces that maximise wellness for the employee. Workspaces will become hybrid-blended workplaces, where density versus distancing will support flexibility and adaptability. More firms will embrace strategies of embracing virtual and physical worlds with technology driving communication and delivery.

With health and wellness at the forefront, spaces will prioritise employee experience and efficiency. Wellness will become ‘visible’ with heightened data showing the cleanliness of surfaces, the quality of air, particle breakdown, to support transparency and employee confidence of the workspace. Surfaces will be focussed on solution clean fabrics and safe materials that are easily cleaned, and a ‘hands free’ or touchless approach will be the mantra for mobile devices and sensor activated lights, temperature, faucets, doors etc. to give employee comfort that the workspace is as clean or cleaner than their home.

The design of spaces will have to reinforce the behaviour and culture of the Client, with signage, partitions, furniture and screens clearly influencing the public health of the workspace.

It is always hard to look too far to the future, especially with technology acting as a disrupter and a positive influence. Leaders will look to provide innovative solutions that reinforce their brand identity and build purposeful and meaningful spaces that create an exciting user experience for their staff and clients. The challenge for the design world is to be able to deliver in an ever more competitive environment.