Alexandra Beggs knew she always wanted to have her own business. The 33-year-old just never imagined it starting through sheer happenstance. Two years ago, Beggs left her job with a large hospitality design firm in Los Angeles to focus on planning for her wedding and her eventual return to Singapore. “I landed my first client and, within a week, I was flying to Miami to work on the project. That’s how A Common Thread (ACT) was born,” Beggs recalls.
The firm is the culmination of a design journey that first began when Beggs, who grew up in Singapore, majored in architectural design at Monash University, Melbourne. From there, she worked for firms such as Blink Design and Hirsch Bedner Associates in Singapore and Los Angeles.
“My experiences living in these different cities have given me a design aesthetic that no one can replicate. I’ve taken and learnt something from each of these places,” she says. And, while many other creative studios have a certain style they adhere to, Beggs’ vision is more malleable. She believes that it’s far more important to listen to the clients and design something that is uniquely theirs. It’s one advantage of coming from the hospitality field – “we can design for so many kinds of aesthetics because each brand is different.”
It’s also probably why Beggs has multiple design muses. She names Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen and American designer Kelly Wearstler as current inspirations.
She explains, “Vincent is incredibly minimalist and somehow still warm while Kelly is so bold with colour, she throws everything onto the wall and it looks fantastic. It takes guts, and she’s a master.”
This juxtaposition has served Beggs well. One of her most memorable projects so far has been a two-bedroom apartment, not because of its simplicity but because of the client’s brief: modern Chinese with design elements from their favourite hotel, the Amanyangyun in Shanghai. “It’s always fun when you have a creatively gifted client,” she says.
Beggs also reveals that the pandemic has been a boon for business. Beyond interior design, ACT does creative work in branding and product line spaces. All three verticals have taken off, partly because she thinks no one can travel and therefore has the extra spending power to reinvest in their homes and businesses.
Although she’s not complaining, the extended closure of the borders between Singapore and Malaysia has been tricky since she relies on our Northern neighbour for labour and materials.
One thing she has missed after returning to Singapore is wearing coats. “That’s why I chose one for this shoot!” she laughs. “When I saw it, I knew I wanted to put it on, even if only for an hour.”
Beggs is a monochromatic woman who prefers a daily regimen of white T-shirts and blue jeans because “when your work is already so heavily creative, you don’t want to think about style”. But she knew she had to wear the coat from Loro Piana simply because she would never have the chance again in sunny Singapore. Her style mantra? “Less is more. And when in doubt, take away.”