Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters

How important is lighting in a home? Are there any useful rules to follow, especially from professional designers who install lighting in restaurants, stores and hotels?

These so-called “professional designers” always commit the glaring mistake of lighting a room from the ceiling down. Are they blind in noticing that it is highly annoying to see the source of light, which irritates our eyes, and that illumination downwards invariably casts shadows on faces which is never flattering? These problems are further aggravated by the gradual disappearance of warm, standard yellowish light and its substitution with LCDs that resemble more the harsh whiteness of a fluorescent tube. Talking of which I can offer an explanation as to why Marks and Spencer seems to struggle with its clothing range, despite adverts involving some of Britain’s most recognisable icons. The reason, as I once told the chief executive who obviously did not think much of my logic, is that in every branch of M&S, the prevalent lighting is harsh white light. While this might be acceptable for buying frozen fish fingers or refrigerated chicken korma and even underwear, it is very unflattering for clothing. M&S must introduce soft yellow lighting for these departments. Just look at all the other clothing stores, none of which use white light.

As a married Asian woman with a primarily western upbringing, I would like to seek your advice on how best to respond to a very hands-on and nosy mother-in-law who calls several times a week and needs to know every detail of our weekly schedule.

If you love your husband who loves his mother and loves you to love his mother, then you must suffer your mother-in-law and be nice to her and do as she tells you. This is the submissive attitude of the Chinese tradition at least. But if you love your husband who loves you more than his own mother, then you and your husband could join forces to repel the domestic invasion of your mother-in-law, because you would then be lending full support to your husband, which is also the Chinese way. If you don’t, however, love your husband, this is the chance for you to be belligerent to your mother-in-law and find ways to deceive and unnerve her so that she becomes upset and complains to your husband who will then complain to you, thereby intensifying your loveless marriage. This also falls in with the Chinese tradition of being cunningly Machiavellian in achieving what you want, viz, a divorce.

What do you think of the basement invasion in central London? Rather than having your kitchen in a cave, shouldn’t you accept the fact that you are not rich enough for Chelsea or Knightsbridge?

I agree that for the same money, I would prefer a proper space in a lesser area than a dark and dingy space at the bottom of a building in an area with a snooty postcode. Besides, these days most means of communication is through email rather than letters with postal addresses. So having a smart home address might well be superfluous, even for the obsessive middle class.

I am the curator of the Museum of Imaginative Knowledge, a project of mine that sometimes takes the form of an indoor installation. With artefacts such as Prince Andrew’s boxer shorts, I try to keep things light. I’d be delighted to invite you to participate in the museum. If I were to give you a museum room, what would you put in it and why?

I don’t understand how the Duke of York’s boxer shorts are imaginative or worth knowing about. But if your museum room were big enough, I would, without hesitation, settle for Picasso’s “Guernica” which evokes so much imagination and knowledge. I suspect this work would be a touch more interesting than underwear worn by the Duke of York.

On sending flowers to a young lady – was it de trop to send a note along with them which I dictated to my personal assistant and which I topped and tailed? I am forced to muse that perhaps a handwritten note in its entirety might have had a more favourable outcome.

Never send flowers to someone you fancy with a note. It is a more stylish way to express one’s affections since anonymity breeds intrigue – an important ingredient of romance. And when you don’t get a fairly swift reply, you know you are in competition with other suitors.


Email questions to david.tang@ft.com

Get alerts on House & Home when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article