Tunku Shazuddin bin Tunku Sallehuddin seems to have done it all – he’s been a ‘poet’, a ‘pirate’, a ‘pauper’, a ‘pawn’ and a prince, much like the lyrics of the song That’s Life, which seems as to have been written just for him…”Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race…” is one line from the song which particularly resonates with his view of life.
Fondly known as either ‘Ku Shah’, or just ‘Shah’ to his staff, ‘Tunku Shah’, as he is also known, always wanted to build things, “…ever since I held my first lego piece in my hand”, he says. It’s a dream he has more than accomplished with the design and construction of high end restaurants, cafes, palaces and Tun Dr. Mahatir’s own niche bakery numbering among the achievements of the team headed by him; feats most would only dare dream of.
It seems among life’s many teachings, one that resonates with him is that one must “always have something to fall back on.” This probably explains the prudence behind his multiple, simultaneously operating ventures, all headed by him and fronted by his various teams. The rest of it can probably be put down to his boundless love of life and his esoteric tastes, many of which manifest in his businesses.
It’s hard to believe that he’s a day out of college when you look at him, but since Tunku Shah had his tertiary education in Advertising, Design and Marketing in the United States, he has been active in many areas, from work as a waiter, valet (imagine having your car parked by a prince – only in fairy tales you’d think!), and library assistant to business ventures with Petronas overseas, and running his own businesses in the hospitality, design and wellbeing industries. Many are the lessons learnt from experience – as he puts it “you learn more outside the classroom than in it”.
One of the people who is most influential on his life’s work is Dato’ Johan Ariff, at whose design firm he found his first work as a designer on his return to Malaysia after seven years in the United States. In an interesting manifestation of fate, it is incidentally the place where he met his future business partner, Rozaidi Mohamed, who is Head Creative at Rethink Sdn. Bhd., Tunku Shah’s own design firm, today. All in all, wisdom beyond his years, great taste, and a disarming humility about him, make Tunku Shah a force to be reckoned with, on a self-assigned mission to “rid the world of visual clutter”.