After more than a decade, Patricia Ho Douven is still designing with an attitude

White Jacket founder Patricia Ho Douven. PHOTO: White Jacket
White Jacket founder Patricia Ho Douven. PHOTO: White Jacket

When it comes to creating unique interior experiences, the work by the award-winning White Jacket studio continues to expand the boundaries of what interior design can be. And it is all thanks to founder Patricia Ho Douven and her aptitude for adding feeling and attitude to her work.

“12 years ago, I started White Jacket by myself in my tiny apartment. Today, we have offices across Southeast Asia, Singapore, Bangkok and Cebu. I enjoy this journey of growth and expansion," explains Ms Ho Douven. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my team. So many have been with my studio since the early days. I feel extremely proud when I receive feedback that I have a great team. Mentoring designers and helping them grow as the company expands to me is the greatest joy and satisfaction.”

White Jacket is a Singapore-based design studio that has worked with some of the biggest names in the hospitality space, including Kimpton Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels, JW Marriott Resort, Shangri-La Hotels and Langham Hotels.

“When I first started White Jacket, I wanted to disrupt the hospitality design trend,” says Ms Ho Douven. "Before starting WJ, I spent a few years working at a local boutique architecture firm as the head of their Interior Design department.

"After that, I worked at the former hospitality giant Wilson Associates – which has sadly closed its doors – as the youngest Design Director they had ever hired. Such diverse experiences broadened my view on interior design. I saw a white space in the hospitality design scene, a blend of boutique design hotel sensibilities, with the commercial five-star hotel standards and luxury.

“Today, this is what we are known for – our work is ‘a design with an attitude, a feeling rather than just a look’,” Ms Ho Douven says.

Aeropalmics - Earthing Way. PHOTO: White Jacket
Aeropalmics - Earthing Way. PHOTO: White Jacket

Mixing Art and Interiors

Alongside the interior architecture work, White Jacket under Ms Ho Douven has also become a substantial supporter of the Art world. To celebrate the brand's anniversary and the move to brand-new premises, Ms Ho Douven organised two simultaneous exhibitions – ‘A Decade’ and ‘WJ x NAFA Showcase’.

“I love art, and I envisioned the new studio environment to be artful and atmospheric. When I first stepped foot in our space, I knew that this was ours,” says Ms Ho Douven.

"The open plan allows me to create a layered spatial flow and experiences. It led us to create a series of interconnected and layered spaces, fostering a sense of intrigue and wonder among visitors as they move through each room.

Le Matt - W is for Wonder. PHOTO: White Jacket
Le Matt - W is for Wonder. PHOTO: White Jacket

“One of the main highlights of the studio is the atelier/gallery space. This space is also a tribute to our local artists – not only does it give them a space to showcase their works, but it also allows our clients to familiarise themselves with them. In addition, I want to help the local artists to raise their profiles and give them a spot on the international art stage.

“Therefore, I wanted the first of many exhibitions to start with a bang. The collaboration with NAFA on the ‘Lepak’ stool series was inspired by the design concept of the arrival foyer of the studio. To pay homage to the unique spirit of a void deck, we turned one of its ubiquitous fixtures — a tiled round table with stools — into the main feature of our retail gallery. These 10 stools complement the space, and through this showcase, we can share the message that art is accessible and not limited to high net worth individuals or intimidating galleries.

“‘A Decade’ exhibition is being showcased in the atelier space. Based on the theme of a decade of celebration and hard work, these nine selected emerging artists get to interpret this theme with their own signature styles and mediums.”

PHOTO: White Jacket
PHOTO: White Jacket

Working in a Man’s World

As a woman in what is often an entirely male world, that of architecture and construction, Ms Ho Douven admits that she has unfortunately experienced some gender bias while working.

“I choose to see all humans as equal. But unfortunately, not everyone does," she says. "There is still a lot of gender bias in this industry. I don't identify this as an issue, as it may give too much power and attention. However, I have been addressed as 'Patrick' in emails and asked if; 'my boss - he - will attend the meeting as well.

“Normally I will play along, and enjoy the look on the surprised faces when they finally meet me or realise that I am the founder of the company.”

Despite this, Ms Ho Douven says being the female founder of a significant design studio has led to many positive experiences.

“As a female leader, my connection with my team goes beyond work in the office. I feel that they find me more approachable and openly share their issues – including the personal ones – with me. I appreciate that a lot as I did not have such a relationship with my previous supervisors.”

David Chan - Liminal. PHOTO: White Jacket
David Chan - Liminal. PHOTO: White Jacket

"The Hospitality Interior Design industry has long been male-dominated. However, I have been told that my design brings a refreshing perspective and style to the scene. As a young designer designing for the modern-day traveller, I am able to create experiences that resonate with the increasingly independent female travellers – both business and leisure,” says Ms Ho Douven.

She also has some valuable tips for young women looking to work in the industry: "Don't limit yourself by paying too much attention to gender, age or race. It is important to know that you too have a shot in this, it is a level playing field.”

Ms Ho Douven says that one should “maintain a clear head; always remember why you chose the entrepreneurial path" and "keep your passion and drive high. Most importantly, do not forget to celebrate wins – big or miniscule. Always be ready to give yourself a pat on the back."

As for her plans for White Jacket, Ms Ho Douven says she wants to share the love and take the White Jacket style to a broader audience, both for interiors and art.

“I want to give our Singapore artists a platform to shine in the international art and hospitality scenes … [and] to bring Asian design sensibilities and creativity to Europe and the States.”

White Jacket is located at 17 Upper Circular Road, #03-00, Singapore.

For more information about White Jacket, go to You can also follow the studio on Instagram at @whitejacket_wj.