Saturday, December 3, 2022

Yi Chieh’s Proposal to Airin at Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Have you ever heard of the saying “you need to have an artist’s ambition but an engineer’s mindset”? Well, we’re no artists nor are we engineers so we don’t exactly know what that means but it does sound like it’s an ideal pairing to go far in life. Therefore, the coupling of Airin (Makeup Artist and Founder of @arly.co) and Yi Chieh (an engineer) could just be the perfect formula for a happily ever after.

When we first saw snippets of Airin being proposed to, besides feeling extremely happy for her, we were equally curious about how it had all unfolded. Did Yi Chieh paint her a painting? Did Yi Chieh write her a poem? How did Yi Chieh come up with such a brilliant idea?

Well, we are super grateful that they had let us in on the details and as we hear their story, we can’t help but feel goosebumps rising on our arms. Because they have reminded us that love is more than just an emotion; it is and should be a constant work-in-progress. Their journey together had brought them to this beautiful proposal thus far and if you’re ready to find out how Yi Chieh had artfully engineered a proposal plan, then read on!

Yi Chieh proposed to Airin at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery on 8th February 2021. It sure wasn’t the setting he had first envisioned for his proposal plan, but it did carry all the elements he wanted and so it naturally became the best place to carry out this important mission, given the circumstances.

I wanted to propose in Japan with a mountain range in the background but thanks to COVID that wasn’t going to happen. At the same time, I’m absolutely certain that Airin would prefer something unique and intimate. I was discussing this with friends, and they suggested proposing at an art gallery, which is brilliant because that is something we do from time to time, so it isn’t out of the blue. I scouted out a few art galleries and the exhibition at Sundaram Tagore, Hiroshi Senju’s BEGINNINGS, resonated with me. The inspiration from nature settings, his style that speaks of Japanese heritage; I thought it was fitting because the original idea was to propose at nature sites in Japan.

Yi Chieh
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie

The Painting

It was here in front of Hiroshi Senju’s piece “The Waterfall” that Yi Chieh went down on one knee. There were many reasons why this piece was chosen as the central element of the proposal. As could be expected of Yi Chieh by now, besides the artistic aspect, there was definitely the technical side to it.

The gallery’s layout offers the greatest depth for the chosen piece. It is also one of the largest paintings, so it helps with framing the subject (me and Airin) nicely. That’s on the technical side.


On an emotional level the chosen piece is one of my favourites out of all Hiroshi Senju’s pieces. The colours are exceedingly simple, just black and white, but from afar it captures your attention, and when you close in, the details are impeccable. Which is a bit like Airin; simple elegance from afar, much to discover when you get to know her.

Yi Chieh
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie

Besides his own perspectives, Yi Chieh also considered how the chosen piece would resonate with Airin –  not just Airin herself but also those who matter to her. All of that is encapsulated in this art piece that brings them both together.

The gallery manager told me that Hiroshi got his inspiration for “Waterfall” from Oahu in Hawaii, which is a destination Airin wants to bring her parents to because they’ve always seen it on TV but never had the chance to go. In short, the artwork means something to me personally, the inspiration means something to her personally, and the Japanese style means something to us as a couple.

Yi Chieh
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin

The Ring

Even the ring that Yi Chieh had chosen to propose with was inspired by Airin’s parents personal love story and included advice from the experts – Airin’s girlfriends.

airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie

The ring is something sapphire because her dad proposed to her mum with a sapphire. The design must be classy and elegant because that’s the kind of lady she is. I created a WhatsApp group with her friends inside to make sure I don’t screw this up.

Yi Chieh

The Engineer’s Guide to a Marriage Proposal

Guided by a very simple principle to “Start with routine, end with extraordinary”, Yi Chieh had devised a plan that was succinct yet also exuded all the grandeur that such an occasion would call for. Here’s his step-by-step guide along with how the plan had unfolded with the help of a few conspirers:

Step 0 – Get the ring

Step 1 – Find a suitable venue
Source for an art gallery that allows for private events and has the artwork that appeals to both of us.

Step 2 – Find a photographer

Step 3 – Plan the logistics
Visit the venue prior to the proposal date with the photographer to choose the right spot, considering lighting, places to hide, what’s the movement like for me and Airin on the day itself, when will the photographer appear, etc.

Step 4 – Make it personal
Made a pact with the art gallery staff to print a customised artwork description tag, which has Airin’s name within a poem; they agreed to swap the real one for my customised one for the chosen art piece. Also worked out a plan with the art gallery to use their space on a Monday where they are typically closed so there wouldn’t be outsiders accidentally barging in.

Step 5 – Execute!
On the actual day, the plan is for the photographer to arrive on-scene about 30 minutes before my arrival. We’ll proceed through the art gallery as per normal, and when we arrive at the selected art piece, I would direct her attention to the description tag. While she’s confused that is when I take the knee, and the photographer pops out and captures the moment.

So, was it a success? Yes! Airin wasn’t suspecting a thing and was totally caught off-guard!

I was utterly confused because I didn’t expect it at all. I was unexpectedly calm and impressed by his effort. I couldn’t remember most of what he said to me, but this will etch in my memory forever, he said, I don’t have much right now, but I will work hard for our future. “Will you accept me?”

Airin
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie

That is what Airin will remember for life now, along with the chosen artwork which she had described as “incredibly grandeur yet calm at the same time.” We definitely had to give it to Yi Chieh for carrying out his “Start with routine, end with extraordinary” plan to great success!

It Was a “Yes” Right From the Start

Steve Jobs used to say, “as with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” Perhaps this has always been the case for Airin and Yi Chieh.

airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin
airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie

Previously when my bridal clients shared with me that, “if you meet your partner, you just know it”, I was skeptical. But when I met Yi Chieh for the first time, as cliche as it is, I felt this sense of comfort that I never experienced before. We are a great balance for each other, he keeps me grounded. I feel free yet guided when I’m with him.

Airin

I think we connect on many levels, in terms of life habits, perspectives, and world views. Though as with any couple we have arguments and need to constantly communicate, heated sessions are about ‘how’ we get to a shared future, not ‘what’ is our shared future.

Yi Chieh

As with all things worth having and keeping in life, you have to constantly work at it. We think Yi Chieh had sum this up the best way for us!

airin proposal
Photo courtesy of Yi Chieh & Airin, taken by Hosanna Swee @hforhozzie

The Big Thank You

Here’s a shout out from Yi Chieh to his small group of conspirers that day –

To Hosanna, the photographer –

She’s a champ! We were moving through the gallery too fast so I didn’t have time to inform Hosanna. Good thing was, she was on a constant look-out and her dedication was 100% – she took off her shoes so she could move about silently.

To the staff at Sundaram Tagore Gallery,

Special mention to the art gallery staff who came in on their off-day, switch out the art piece description tag, and cordoned off areas to dictate our visiting pathway (and created the photographer hiding place).

A big congratulations to Yi Chieh and Airin! Thank you for sharing your story with us and for reminding us that marriage and love will involve a constant figuring out of “how” and not “what”. We can’t wait to hear more about it as you both journey ahead together!

The Conspiring Team:

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