theartistandhismodel is a curated portal of all things creative and inspirational for creative professionals, students, and anyone who shares the same love for art and design started in 2005. The site has since then featured over 3000 creative professional across 80 cities.
Internationally acclaimed Indonesian artist Arkiv Vilmansa debuts in Singapore with his solo exhibition, One or Nothing, a graphical take on Singapore’s relentless pursuit of being number one. Singapore's first designer toy-inspired exhibition ‘One or Nothing’ is a series of twelve paintings that are based on uniquely Singaporean icons. The exhibition invites art and toy enthusiasts to explore the distinct Singaporean way of living through the perspective of an international artist. Arkiv's signature style incorporates fluid and curvaceous lines paired with bright vivid colours which is seen in many of his paintings. ‘Arkiv Instant’, his first vinyl toy figurine, is also one of his most recognised works. The exhibition runs at the FLABSLAB gallery at One Commonwealth from 16 November to 30 November. >>
By Invite Only™ presents its inaugural pop-up store at Nana & Bird with jewellery pieces that sums the year, yet welcomes the future. From all-time favourite pieces of the Nature//Nurture series that feature eye-catching crystals and stones, to new arrivals yet to reach stores, there is something for everyone. 26th & 27th November.
11am to 6pm. Nana & Bird. Blk 79 Chay Yan Street #01-02, Singapore, Singapore 160079. >>
Wake Me Up Music, Singapore's premium indie record label, is taking a long long nap after more than a decade of contribution to the Singaporean music scene. Before we take that nap, let's bring back the old times and have one hell of a party! The two-day show will feature current and past Wake Me Up Music bands and also other bands who have been such great friends to us. This will probably be the LAST TIME you'll see bands like Surreal, Sky in Euphoria, Vertical Rush, Marchtwelve, My Squared Circle and Pension State come together for a show like this. Show Details: Venue - Home Club (20 Upper Circular Road) Date & Time - 10 December 2011 (Sat): 8.00pm-10.00pm 11 December 2011 (Sun): 4.30pm-10.00pm Charge - $10 for 2-Day Pass (Tickets sold at door) >>
The brief is to create an invitation for an event, Annual General Meeting, incorporating the club’s theme for
the year, Venture: Breaking New Grounds. This direction chosen by the club is aimed to bring about change, through bold decisions and actions.
A regular invite (4-page fold) is given a quirky twist, with the thought of wood as the main element of the final product. Hence, a tactile project was the approach chosen to compliment the theme of the year and the nature of the club. It was important to also translate the personality of the club and its members, through the execution of the project.
A Wes Anderson colour palette was adapted upon request of the club. Various forms and dimensions of wood were used, finished with two layers of wood stains. Nails and hinges are also part of the final work measuring at 160mm x 230mm x 40mm.
Ruben Pang is a full time practising artist and graduate from the Lasalle College of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Art (2010). Pang explores an intuitive method of painting. His paintings are projections of his psyche, reflecting on notions of prospect, arrival, and transformation. With no preconceived notion of how the painting should look like at its inception, Pang’s process of creation evolves with each mark added or subtracted from the painting surface.
His recent international shows include a solo exhibition, Aetheric Portraiture with Primae Noctis Art Gallery in Lugano, Switzerland and a group exhibition, Deep SEA with Primo Marella Gallery in Milan, Italy. Locally, he has exhibited and performed in the Singapore Art Museum, Lasalle College of the Art’s Praxis and Project Space, The Substation and Chan Hampe Galleries. He received the Winston Oh Travelogue Award (2010), the Georgette Chen Arts Scholarship (2009-2010), and the Lasalle Award for Academic Excellence and was a finalist in the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2010 and 2011.
Catch a glimpse of him and his work space in the video by The Creators Project below.
We all should be rejoicing when Singapore is being awarded a UNESCO Creative City of Design and especially so when we are one of the first two ASEAN cities to get the designation, alongside Bandung of Indonesia.
With so many the red tape and its restriction, campaigns championing Singlish and majority of work are unsightly, while most of our citizens don’t value or know good or bad design, I don’t think we deserve this for now, came a bit too early if you were to ask me.
On an external outlook, we may seems to have Thomas Heatherwick’s The Hive at National Technological University, Mofie Sadie’s Marina Bay Sands, National Gallery and Esplanade, PARKRoyal on Pickering by WOHA, Toyo Ito’s Vivocity, Zaha Hadid’s d’Leedon. But is it healthy when two third of our landmarks have been designed and awarded to foreigner companies?
And for applied graphic design projects, you might have heard of these from award shows—Theseus Chan’s WERK, &Larry’s 7 Letters, H55’s A Guide To The Flora And Fauna of the World, Holycrap’s Rubbish Famzine, and a few not so popular ones like Bureau’s Door Wedge, Hair How by Edlo Kawa but how many of these award winning projects are not pro bono or self initiated projects? Probably none. To note, not slamming or shaming anyone cause I am probably the same too.
We still can find hope in very meaningful project in Bishan Park where they turned a lokang into a neighbourhood into a park, Spotted Nyonya Collection by Hans Tan, The Browsing Copy project by Beautiful who he made browsing copies in bookstores and gave them second life.
Singapore Insider, published by Singapore Tourism Board
Inside spreads of Singapore Insider
Covers of A List
Inside spread, A List
Biblioasia, published by National Library Board, Singapore
Inside spread, Biblioasia
Challenge Magazine by Public Service Division
Heritage Trails by National Heritage Board
Inside spreads of Heritage Trails
You will be disappointed if you are hoping to see nicely designed currency notes and passport like the Norwegian in us. And it seems like our media has been populating the best works but none of the above have been circulating around. Are these good? Does the clients or initiator even know what is good or bad? Are these bad because most are civil sector or corporate work? Whose fault is it? Client? Designer? To me, choosing to hire a cheaper and bad designer are it’s a keen to going to a bad but cheap dentist. And you probably need two or three fixes to get things correct. Why not spend a bit more and get a better and slightly more expensive one to get things done once? I still don’t think there are bad designers or clients. But the work shown below are probably better direction or strategy. Or perhaps they are nicer because the clients are in the art or creative industry.
Kith, Sentosa Cove. All images courtesy of Hjgher.
Kith, located on the heart districts of Singapore in Park Mall, Sentosa Cove, Millenia Walk and Robertson Quay, is a cafe where coffee meets food meets people.
It launched its first outlet in 2011 that sits by the Singapore River, along Robertson Quay. Its interior and branding was designed by Singapore based Hjgher.
In a landscape that is so fast-paced and constantly evolving, where the locale’s past-time is either food, shopping or movies, how do you start a shop that can stand out? A shop that is at stage—creating ambience and to give pleasure and to sell.
Perhaps it was a budget constraints or a conscious effort to be organic as possible or a marketing strategy to make things modular and hand-done to further compliment the cafe’s ethos. An ambience has been created with 10,000 blocks of plywood, trimmed, then hand layered block by block and affixed with an absolute precision.
These, not just make them stand out from the market where usually it’s either the nostalgic, or the old-school decor or the white-washed walls, exposed hanging bulbs, dark wooden tables. Set with dried flowers. If not, communal table with industrial chairs or stools. The choice of the interior became value-adding; became a marketing tool on its own where it made its way into websites like RetailDesignBlog or Dezeen that bags million of viewership and winning design awards. This proves to be crucial as a business plan as you don’t just rely on reviews and word-to-word mouth for a start-up that doesn’t have a media buy budget.
Kith, Robertson Quay.
The visual identity and its first logo came in an classic tartan pattern that symbolises the fabric of community that comes together for a common purpose—matched with a yellow colour palette that is most luminous and captures most attention and seen from far. A colour optimism, enlightenment, happiness sunshine matched with a cool grey that when used together looks light, easy and warm for the eyes. Perhaps it was done to bring in the lifestyle in fashion into cafe, with that familiar tartan that we can see on clothing or it was chosen so that the printed paper cups can make its way to the Instagram world.
A rebranding exercise, by GNU, was called last year in 2015. The new logo appears to have a shape which resembles a sun or a octagon. The typeface and yellow palette retained but the colour of the sans serif has been changed to black where the contrast might be more.
Branding of Kith by Hjgher.
New logo of Kith by GNU.
In a cafe business where it probably can self-sustain without making much marketing and promotions, where should the plan lies now? Expand and franchise? Or is it better to start a new business like the owner of Creamier has in Sunday Folks? Or will the cafe culture just die down like bubble tea and frozen yoghurt in years to come?
I first come across the word ‘cafe’ almost a decade back and my understanding was that it’s usually fronted in places in Paris, Melbourne or Taipei, where the lifestyle is a more laid back, and have a place where you stop for food, drinks and a chat. No atas restaurant setting and non pretentious. Simple decor, functional interior. And to quote an article on Wikipedia: “A cultural standpoint, coffeehouses largely serve as centers of social interaction: the coffeehouse provides patrons with a place to congregate, talk, read, write, entertain one another, or pass the time, whether individually or in small groups.”
Few years later, we started to see more and more cafes that it became a culture. Was the cafes of today spun off from thematic restaurants or bar though? Back in the earlier days, you could find bars with waitresses dressed up as nurses and serve alcohol in injection tubes or servers as cosplay maids. If you are lucky, you could be sitting at a toilet bowl to dine or a walls of dungeon or jail cell. Did this experiential experience influence the cafe culture of today? One where customers eat with their eyes, a cafe isn’t just about getting the right look anymore or serving the best coffee. Or creating the best experience.
Starting a cafe or F&B business, used to be just a job where one loves cooking, eating and coffee. Not sure what is it now. Even KFC and Soup Spoon are refurnishing and trying to position themselves to fit in. And sad to say, to me, cafe isn’t a cool thing anymore.
There have been so many dialogues on what defines art and what defines design, on when is art, art? And can art be designed?
When it is captioned? When it is at a gallery? When it’s beyond an average’s technical ability? When it look nice on the wall? Or when it has some deep lying message?
Take Dawn Ng’s ‘Things of Beauty’, a photographic installation series for example. It’s soothing and eye catching. It fits in any walls whoever’s home are. It’s market-able and sellable cause it’s easy to relate to even if you don’t read the artist statement or understand the message or any political resounding behind it if there’s any. I like it.
But now let’s take a step back into the real world. And if we were to see similiar visuals like ‘Things of Beauty’ in magazines in those independent magazines styled and shot, done and produced by stylist and photographers. Its output is art to designers or the publication world but is it art in the art world?
Take another example and look at Ezzam Raham’s ‘Here’s who I am, I am what you see’. Fossils and Flower sculptures were made from dry skins shredded from the artist’s feet, then enclosed by a bell glass jar and delicately placed on a marble top table setting, finished with the lights dimmed and mood set. So that is art. And if a similar set up is done by visual merchandiser or be seen at a window display. Most would call them designs that are designed.
It’s termed design if there’s a brief or that, there’s an issue raised or a gap to be filled. Art, probably, doesn’t necessary need to cater to be a solution for anything, or to cater to any briefs. Art, probably, has a message and a cause behind.
Who I Am, I Am What You See (2015) by Ezzam Raham
So, can art be designed? Or the answer is that obvious? It is but they avoid using words like design. They will probably be using—crafted, produced.
In today’s context, we see dual professions—artists who are or were designers. Take Heman Chong. He started his profession as a graphic designer but has moved on as a artist, curator and writer. See Hanson Ho who has almost to two decade of working as a graphic designer whom recently has his first solo art show.
But when do one actually enter the art world? When you are hand picked by curators to showcase in the museums or art galleries? What if you organised your own show in a rented venue—some call it independent, some call it D.I.Y. Does one enter the art world when they are being acknowledged by fellow artists or gets interviewed by art writers?
Questions being raised. Curiousity on a rise. Hope I can find a place for myself in this world.
We spoke with Edwin Low of Supermama who I think is more than a product designer, educator and an entrepreneur. To me, he’s an activist who champions ‘Don’t complain, just do it.’ where the things he is doing is more than just a design or a shop—reviving the landscape here in Singapore that I have decided to rename his shop to my own liking, SuperingaporeMama.
Yanda: Supermama was started because of your wife and family? What has changed and how different is it now from the beginning?
Edwin Low: Yes. Nothing has changed. The day any one of my kids tell me “Papa you are not spending enough time with me” will be the day I shut Supermama – no hesitation.
I didn’t expect Supermama to survive more than a year because I totally disregard the business aspects of things. To me, good design matters and I want it to come first. Now that I managed to survived and be celebrating our 5th birthday in March, I felt a lot more responsibility to “represent” the design community and represent the Singapore identity well (and accurately) to the world outside.
I have also grown deeper in my relationship with the Singapore designers and Japanese craftsmen I work with and it is something I never take for granted. At the end of the day, if we were can add value to the lives of others, why not just do it?
What makes you want to start your souvenir project?
I wanted to do this long time ago. I think it is the dream of every industrial or product designer to want to do something for their own city. This is especially so in Singapore – we are known for shopping, food, etc but ask someone to name an “iconic” object or product that represents the Singapore identity, he/she will probably give you a blank stare. I am always jealous that Japanese can have their bento boxes, Koreans metal chopsticks… what about Singapore? That’s how I started the Singapore Icons project few years back.
What do you think of the Merlion chocolate packaging or the I LOVE SG t-shirts?
I think they are effective designs that served their purpose in their time. Am I proud of them? No. Do I think they can be improved? Yes. Then what am I doing about it? Complain? No. Just take in your own hands. If I don’t change it, who will? In fact one of my future plans is to set up a Merlion shop – well design and well thought through kind.
Say how much percentage is of the souvenirs as compared to the other products (like furniture or usable items) in the products you produce now?
Everything in Supermama are souvenirs. There are good home ware shops around (like Muji), good furniture shops around (like Grafunkt), but souvenir shop? Not really. So I hope to be one. I’m also very inspired by the Japanese way of giving gifts, it is a way of life. Giving is a thoughtful and considerable act that makes people happy – both the giver and receiver – I wanted to encourage people to give.
What do you wish to champion and advocate in this?
I think if designers don’t bring design to the public, then non-designers will bring design to the public. So if we think the design standards in Singapore is screwed up, we as designers only have ourselves to blame. My wish is for designers to take up more initiative and do what we believe in – too many are complaining about everything other than themselves. Will I still do supermama without support/grant? Yes. Really? I sold my home to do so.
Though seems to be collection’s edition, the souvenirs are not highly priced. Why and how did you manage that?
Traditional gift shop focuses a lot on packaging or to create a nice interior space (often designed for impulse buying) and it seemed like the actual gift itself is a second rated by product. I wanted to be a gift shop that sells great gifts. That’s why in Supermama we demand excellence in our product quality – not so much on packaging or the shop experience actually. We merely spend money on what we think matters and save on those that don’t.
When you chase after packaging and trends you end up spending money refreshing every season but if you invest on the product itself, you don’t need anything else actually.
At the end of day it is also about selecting the price model. We can choose high pricing low sales volume or low pricing high sales volume. And because I am a designer, I want as many people to have access to my designs as possible. So how did I manage to do that? Earn less profit per unit.
You shared before how you work out a deal with your contractor or was it collaborator over giving them a share on each item that is being manufactured to maintain the quality and reduce wastage and rejects. Is this sharable to the public? And do you do that to all the products?
Yes can share with the public but a clearer picture is this – I got the designers and makers on board as partners. I.e. for this project I got Stuck as the design partner and Meykrs as the production partner. I came out with the project and business direction. We split the profit equally. And because everybody owns the project, everyone takes ownership. Die die have to do good works. In fact the project is so successful that we spin a new company off just to manage this project. The company is called “Souvenirs from Singapore”.
Going forward and thinking ahead, should all public art be functional and meaningful instead?
In an article by Penny Balkin Bach titled ‘Public Art in Philadelphia’: Public art is not an art “art”. Its size can be huge or small. It can tower fifty feet high or call attention to the paving beneath your feet. Its shape can be abstract or realistic (or both), and it may be cast, carved, built, assembled, or painted. It can be site-specific or stand in contrast to its surroundings.
In our context in Singapore, we could find Public Art in form of sculptures in the atrium of the shopping malls, bridges or pavement, or paintings, photography installation in platform of train stations. These might have serve its purpose to rejuvenate the surrounding landscape but to some, they are a form of healing and feeling, to some, they could be just a decoration and serves no other function.
TOP: Christopher Fennel‘s Bus Stop (2007), Athens, GA. Source: http://cfennell.org.
BOTTOM: An installation by Vertical Submarine, Singapore
What if you put the same kind of art into design? Will it redefine how function these kind of art could be? Could our bus stop shelter designed like Lim Soo Ngee’s Bird? Or instead of having ads on the roof of the bus stop shelters, could we say, let’s see what if Jeff Koon’s floral art is up there instead? Or could Vertical Submarine’s chainsaw-ed be applied to a bus stop or a bench? Or could the big stone of Eng Tow be a bench in the park? One of an recent good example is Canopy by FARM, a shelter walkway in the fringe of the Civil District in Singapore.
The question of how to improve everyday life in an urban environment is closely connected to the transformation of public spaces into public places. To quote Marc Auge in his ‘From Places to Non-Places’, he defines a place as meaningful for people but a space, a non-place, is meaningless.
Maybe we should redefine what Public art could be we could do so much with bus stops, shelters, lamp posts to even rubbish bins. We ought to review and rethink and also encourage art to be in the public spaces instead of being enclosed in museums and galleries.