Sher Reen Lim
photography by Sher Reen Lim
Communion | 2015
“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David Thoreau
Sher Reen Lim is an architect with a long-time fascination with light and its influence on the human experience in and around the built environment, two complementary processes developing in parallel.
1/ How do you carry through your practices of ‘slowness’ from your work and transfer them to life at large?
To be honest, architectural work in this part of the world rarely offers such a luxury, therefore my practice of ‘slowness’ has always been considered. However, because design is a creative process, it cannot be rushed. Mobile photography as a weekend pursuit, in contrast, allows me to take time to compose and make − something I really treasure.
When time permits, I light a candle to end my work day, treat myself with the Awakening body scrub from my friends at Mmerci Encore or seek out an hour of relaxation yoga to recalibrate. I try to regularly make time off for a change of pace and scene by travelling − I find it does so much good for reflection and self-assessment.
2/ What kind of preparations do you participate within for the holiday season?
My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so my preparations for the holidays typically involve gift shopping for friends, making time for reflection and writing long messages in Christmas cards. And tidying up my room − decluttering does wonders for the mind!
3/ What does the holiday season remind you to do more of?
I take the holidays as a time to slow down, take stock of what I have and haven’t achieved, and make plans to better myself in the year to come. They are a perfect reminder for me to live in the present, because one of my cardinal sins is that I think too much.
4/ Do you have any rituals or traditions for this time of year? If so, what are they?
Year end catch ups with friends and family, even though I do this all year round.
5/ What makes them important to you?
I’m at the stage of my life where some of my favourite people are chasing their dreams, and they don’t all live nearby anymore. I always try to make a point of seeing the ones who’ve made an impact on my year to compare notes over a good meal. It’s always bonus when my oldest friend who lives in the U.S. is back, like this year, and I’m really looking forward to realigning with him.
6/ Has your perspective on the holidays changed over your life? How?
Yes. When I was in school, I recall finding the year end holidays too long (2 months) and spent a lot of time with my nose buried in books. Having started full-time work in 2012 though, I now see the break as leisure time I need to plan well to reap its full potential.
7/ Do you have any particular standout or fond memories of the holiday season?
Christmas 2009 − I was stuck out cold alone in Paris when the Eurostar halted its services days before Christmas Day because of the snow. My family and I had planned to meet in London for the holidays. Fortunately, I managed to book the last flight out of Paris and make it to the UK in time for us to be be reunited family for the holidays, despite Christmas not being a ritual for my family.
My other favourite Christmases were the years I spent summers in Melbourne where I did university. My friends and I would walk to the Victoria Night Markets and have paella and Crabapple cupcakes − it was a ritual we kept up for five years.
8/ Throughout the year we find ourselves losing track of important practices we emplace at the beginning of every year, what are you keen to get back on track with the rest/holiday season coming up?
Reading and regular exercise − I make the same resolutions at the start of every year, but find they are the easiest to lose sight of. This holidays, I will be making a short solo getaway and hope to get some reading and city walking done; I have missed doing the latter since moving back home from Melbourne. In between all that though, I will be spending quality time with old friends − the perfect way to end the year, in my opinion.
My approach to gifting is…don’t gift if it’s half-hearted. I am serially guilty of missing birthdays and Christmases, but when I do I like it to be meaningful. Nothing compares to seeing a gift treasured and/or well-utilised − some of my go-to gifts are spa vouchers, Aēsop and Mossery. When I have time, I love personalising a greeting card for the person I’m gifting as well.
I would like to close this year... by putting away what’s no longer relevant, and bringing my best into the new year.
My ideal morning over the holidays looks like... rain falling softly outside, a cup of tea in hand and a scented candle burning.
Materials and fabrics perfect for the holiday season are... wool (in air-conditioned spaces) because it reminds me of that precious Christmas in London.
The holidays mean...family and friends get to spend time together feasting! On a personal level, it means I get to slow down, sleep in and pace myself better.
My Christmas menu must haves are... sashimi, all year round.