All images courtesy of Karyn Lim.
Today we have a conversation with Karyn, a recent graduate from National Universal of Singapore Division of Industrial Design.
Yanda: Tell us something about yourself.
Karyn Lim: Hello. My name is Karyn.
What got you into your course industrial design?
I had to attend university but didn’t want to study. Industrial design was one of the more hands-on courses.
Were you always into design or arts?
Was in art club in primary school. Does that count?
I’ve always had an attraction to tasteful things. The real interest in design only developed after 6 months on exchange at L’ENSCI in Paris. It was a small school where students had to compete against each other to get in and really only a handful of all applicants are admitted. We can imagine how passionate and talented they are. Passion and talent aside, what really struck me was the pride that they had of their work. It wasn’t boastful, more of self-satisfaction and some intention to impress.
Another great influence in my development as a designer was having Patrick Chia a mentor. It was he who got me interested in design literature. He used to lend me books after books and I’d spend hours flipping through them and wondering his intention for lending me the particular book. Once, he lent me a book on Thomas Heatherwick. & he asked, you know this guy right? Sheepishly, I shook my head no. It was a good read.
Transformation Bags II
So are you reading more now? The best talks I have ever attended was by Thomas Heatherwick and Toyo Ito. But I never really like keynote presentation or TED talks. Would actually prefer chats over coffee or studio visits.
Owning more books but reading less. I’ve always enjoyed reading. More fiction than non-fiction. & I used to complete many books while commuting daily. But it’s really bad for the eyes so I stopped. Coffee chats and studio visits are definitely more intimate than talks and presentations.
Which batch were you from for NUS DID? And coming from a school that has produced so many President’s Design Award recipent like Hans Tan, Studio Juju, Hunn Wai, Patrick Chia, Nathan Yong, are there any pressure among yourself or your peers?
I graduated from NUS DID in 2015, same batch as Litile Collective (Lim Zhi Ying and Tay Tze Yu), one batch after Afzal Imram (Proper People) . These are friends who were brave enough to start independent studios after graduation and whom I hope will join the ranks of “names we throw out when talking about Singaporean designers”. Pressure, maybe not so much. Everyone is trying to give their best.
If you could own a project of anyone, what would it be and why?
It would be interesting to co-own/co-work on a project with someone of a different field of study/expertise. Collaborations are interesting to me as it offers a peek into another person’s concerns, considerations, and ways of working.
I was actually asking what is your favourite project of others that you would wish you designed.
I know! Wouldn’t steal anyone’s project! I never really wish to have done something that someone else has done. More like, can I achieve an equivalent calibre or do better.
Masses or the niche?
But niche doesn’t get you very rich.
Riche Niche. The niche has potential to produce a rich outcome. Rich not in monetary value but in concept and execution. Niche is an indulgence that does not compromise. Niche has its own mind. For that, niche over masses.
“Collaborations are interesting to me as it offers a peek into another person’s concerns, considerations, and ways of working.”
What would you want to be known for?
“Hi (friend’s name), Karyn will be joining us later. She (insert descriptor)”
(insert descriptor) has always been of great curiosity to me. That one line that sums up a person. The hashtags that create the identity. I’d strive more for descriptors about character or thought than descriptors including names of works done. (eg. she’s really interesting vs. she designed that bag that folds)
Which is your favourite project and why?
I don’t play favourites. A fulfilling project is one that meets personal expectations, one that has had enough time and effort devoted to it.
From working without a client in school for assignments to working for a client with a brief, what has changed?
Things are different when dollars and cents come into the picture. The challenge is finding the balance between self-indulgence and practicality.
Transformation Bags I
There are so many products around, some good, some meaningful, some bad, some useless. How can you make another product that doesn’t add on to these noise?
We all fail sometimes. Some noise is ok, like babies learning how to speak. As long as we eventually get more articulate.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by creators who speak passionately of and are devoted to their art. Here is a recent example: https://youtu.be/3AbrDWIwBO4 . Inspiration is of course, not found solely on the internet. I also like exploring new places, meeting new people, trying new things. Everything contributes to the giant web called inspiration.
If you could design something for a public space, what would it be?
Cliche as it sounds. it depends on the nature of the space. I’d probably want to do a sculpture, kinda like Calder outside Centre Pompidou in Paris. (Photo attached)
Is there a trend in your industry too?
Trend is interesting. It is inevitable, especially with the ubiquity of the internet and things viral. Although nowadays, with things so orchestrated, I’m not sure if trends become trends because of sheep-nature or the decision of the shepherd.
Lastly, do you think CCTVs should be redesigned to be a say a bird so no one will know there is one there or should it be known there is one installed to deter people from doing crimes?
This CCTV question brings so many questions to mind.
Why do satellites look like stars?
Would we act the same if we cctv-ed our lives whether or not we eventually watch the footage?
The airplane-shop sells a clock that has a hidden camera and my first thought was ohmy, better check that the hotel room clock isn’t that.
Thank you for time. You can find out more of Karyn Lim and her works here.