PETALING JAYA: When we are born, we are like empty cups. As we go through the journey of our lives, we fill ourselves up – sometimes with unwanted or even toxic matter. But we can pour away what damages us and always be ready to receive the positive.
Interior designer Ed Mun is a firm believer in this philosophy. This tall, distinguished gentleman has certainly been through a lot, from his turbulent teenage years to major business failures, and even a cancer diagnosis.
Mun rose from poor to rich before stumbling and nearly losing everything. In spite of all this, the 57-year-old remains cheerful and positive, firmly holding on to his belief that life is what you make of it.
And now, the story of his many challenges and what he has learnt from them are chronicled in his first book, “My Life Journey: The Rugged Walk”.
“I never thought I’d ever be an author,” Mun told FMT Lifestyle with a laugh. “But during the pandemic, I ended up reflecting a lot on myself and the design industry. And I realised I wanted to share everything I’ve been through.”
Given his close to 40 years in the field, Mun is a prominent name in the local interior-design scene. He is the founder and design director of independent firm Space Utilization Analyst (SUA), whose notable clientele include Samsung, Hong Leong Bank, Volvo Malaysia, and Fuji Xerox.
The man is also the creative mind behind “Interior Insight with Ed Mun”, which provides guidance for new designers, and the founder of #NoFreeDesignMovement, an initiative created to empower members of the creative industry worldwide.
In his book, published by Kanyin Publications, Mun writes candidly about his life, from his humble beginnings to his experiences with lymphoma and more.
No detail is unshared: in one chapter, Mun recalls being made by his mother to serve as a guarantor for loan sharks. In another, he writes about being millions-deep in debt and almost being driven to a drastic act.
“I was making millions at 27. I had many properties. But within a short period of time, my ego took over. Sometimes when you get successful too fast, you don’t understand financial fundamentals, you invest in things that aren’t fruitful. I learnt through very heavy mistakes,” Mun said in reflection.
Thankfully, he got out of his tailspin and rebuilt himself to emerge stronger than ever. His honest, often-inspiring book also describes many positive events in his life such as his charity work, how he found religion, and how he discovered a company successor.
Mun also devotes a chapter to the Malaysian design industry, addressing what he believes are major issues there.
The author is currently devoted to the development of the Ed Mun Academy, a certified provider of mentorship seminars as well as technical and vocational training. He also plans to publish his second book, “Say No to Free Design”, in due course.
“A lot of designers in the creative industry are being exploited with their work. The most common thing they go through is being underpaid, or worse, not paid at all,” Mun writes in his book.
“In some circumstances, clients act unethically, making designers compete against each other for a single job. Where in the end they will pick the lowest cost that they can get. This act of ‘crossing the line’ devalues the work that designers have done, and mocks our design industry as well.”
Mun hopes his readers will learn from his experiences and be encouraged to be the authors of their own lives.
“I recently watched this movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’. It’s a good movie, but I also believe there’s also a lot to be said about the pursuit of suffering. Without suffering, you can’t find happiness. You only find success after you fall.
“I’ve fallen so many times,” he mused. “But I hope my book shows people that a fall is not the end. You can always pick yourself up and keep going. Ultimately, a fall can be your greatest teacher.”
Ed Mun’s ‘My Life Journey: The Rugged Walk’ can be purchased online or from local bookstores.