Singapore Design Week 2015 – Design Trails 2015 – Calligraphy and Handset Typesetting

We managed to visit the artists’ warren at 195 Pearl’s Hill before the sky broke, and there was torrential rain, and lightning and thunder, that made everyone flee deep indoors. It used to house the Singapore Police Headquarters, and like many old buildings, has had a second lease of life as artist workshops probably until there is enough commercial interest for the whole thing to be refurbished.

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill TerraceWhile waiting for the typesetting demo to start, some of us sought to replenish fluids at the Mama Shop:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace mama menu book. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill TerraceDown the corridor, Craft Varies (facebook) was at hand (haha) to write beautiful copperplate notes for a tin-can donation. He said he was proficient in many other calligraphy styles as well.

Craft Varies Calligraphy. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace Sun Yao Yu arrived from his talk about typesetting and ushered us into his exciting Typsettingsg (facebook) workspace:
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
A little Aladdin’s cave of handset typesetting metal types and presses:
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace

Yao Yu gave us a whirlwind tour through the history of printing from ancient China to Gotenberg to plate-printing, then let us play a little with his handpress and cylinder press:
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill Terrace
typesettingsg. Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trails 2015 - 195 Pearl's Hill TerraceYao Yu described this as his personal project, and also his only job. Glad that he didn’t just sit around and complain about lack of opportunity and lack of a scene in Singapore, but actively got himself trained, imported bits from all over the world, and is sustaining himself through the wedding industry. 🙂

Typesettingsg from Sun Yao Yu on Vimeo.

Singapore Design Week 2015- Make a F-ake by Freitag, and the Design Trail

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design CentreA no-reservation, no-waiting list, walk-ins only, first-come-first-served bit of fun cutting off pre-stamped Freitag tarp at Kapok, National Design Centre. To ensure more people could enjoy the freebies, the woman-in-charge made a big deal of checking that each person only took away either a Merlion tag or a “F-aster Chope” tissue holder.

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre
F-aster Chope! Tissue Holder, Make a F-ake by Freitag, Kapok, National Design Centre, Singapore Design WeekThen it was all-aboard the Design Trail 2015 shuttle bus that took us round to various open houses:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

First stop, Basheer Graphic Books (Blk 231 Bain Street, #04-19, facebook) at Bras Basah, where a talk was going on and the logistics uncle was making teh tarik:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Next stop, Park + Associates Architects:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailSingapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailI really liked the little plant-covered house-office in one corner of the open-plan work area:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailChatted about one of their current projects: a new black-and-white bungalow(s) project for a man and his family. This brought us to the question: makes a colonial bungalow so easily recognisable as such? The colours of course, but also the shuttered windows, the pillars, and the verandas (but not those roof-top spaces seen in this model).
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailAnd because it started to rain quite heavily, the final stop of the day was Matter HQ (145 Neil Road). The restored shophouse we heard so much about at the Appreciating Architecture talk at SingaPlural 2015.

The shade of blue on the front facade was positively delightful:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailSingapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

And it was great to actually experience the interior after seeing all those slides a week ago – current use is both commercial-retail and residential:
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

Patterned dhotis, harem pants, cloth:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail

And Fictive Fingers (facebook) had laid out some eraser stamps for us to play with:

Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design Trail
Singapore Design Week 2015 - Design TrailAll-in-all, an enjoyable opportunity to experience the sort of “creative” work that is going on in Singapore.

SingaPlural 2015 (99 Beach Road) and Existential Authenticity

Primary by Brandon Tan? SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporePrimary by Brandon Tan?

Pleased to be in town this time for SingaPlural 2015 (99 Beach Road, facebook), part of the Singapore Design Week 2015.

Salad Dressing's "Royal Stinker". SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeSalad Dressing‘s Royal Stinker

Incandescence by Desinere x Tinge. lamps, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeIncandescence by Desinere x Tinge

In the courtyard, a playground of Heveatech wooden furniture by the Little Thoughts Group product design collective (facebook), constructed in collaboration with Samko Timber, and inspired by local places and heritage structures and a good dose of nostalgia. Ponggo by Alvin Sitoh, The Last Tiger by Andrew Loh, Icons of Sembawang by Chan Wai Lim, PlayStool by Jane Tang, Tempinis Forest by Lee Chang Tat, Open Play by Leonard Bahroocha Tan:

My Hood, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore The Last Tiger by Andrew Loh, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Chan Wai Lim's rocking animals (Icons of Sembawang). SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore You could take a lovely bike from Coast Cycles (facebook) for a spin as well… Coast Cycles, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore

…while watching out for an army of giant ants! Big Feast by Joyce Loo. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Big Feast by Joyce Loo. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeBig Feast by Joyce Loo

We were slightly antsy about being ushered into the Airbnb hut by chirpy girls, thinking of the hard-sell of time-share resorts and the like. But what fun! 3D image projection of, we were assured, real Airbnb rental sites around the world!

Airbnb Hut, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore

Airbnb Hut, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Airbnb Hut, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore

Airbnb Hut, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Airbnb Hut, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore

A lot of the other installations were pure interactive enjoyment as well, even if many of us didn’t bother with the intended message of the exhibit (sorry!):

Dream A Little by RSP Architects, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Dream A Little by RSP Architects, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeDream A Little by RSP Architects

Heads in Cages by Josephy Louis Tan. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeHeads in Cages by Joseph Louis Tan

Scent Mapping Singapore by Allsense. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Scent Mapping Singapore by Allsense. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Scent Mapping Singapore by Allsense. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeFor someone who with mild prosopagnosia and who therefore tells people apart by their smell (not something to admit to anyone!), the potential of Scent Mapping Singapore by Allsense (facebook) was beyond exciting. However, by the time we got there, most of the scents didn’t quite do their descriptors (eg. Balestier Bak Kut Teh, East Coast Chilli Crab, Paranakan [sic] Pulut Hitam, Dempsey Durian Stall, Satay By The Bay, Kampong Glam Pandan Cake, Boat Quay Tiger Beer, Vanda Miss Joaquim Orchid) justice. If only they did! I’d love to have a whole scent library!

Scent Mapping Singapore by Allsense. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeOn the other table, the commercial blends were doing very well indeed! Ion Orchard White Tea, Tangs Gingerlily, Mount Elizabeth Clover & Aloe, Capitol “X”. More stable perhaps?

Let The Papers Sing To You by Roots. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore Let The Papers Sing To You by Roots (Jonathan Yuen) and Victor Low. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeLet The Papers Sing To You by Roots (Jonathan Yuen) and Victor Low featured infrared sensors hidden within the frame of the table and recordings of fingers being pulled across papers of different textures.

You Have to Know Me to Love Me by Ezzam Rahman. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeYou Have to Know Me to Love Me by Ezzam Rahman

The Marriage by Miun x Lamitak. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore The Marriage by Miun x Lamitak. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, Singapore The Marriage by Miun x Lamitak. SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Road, SingaporeThe Marriage by Miun (facebook) x Lamitak. Amazingly imagined plants and flowers made from laminates.

Many of the white-box explanations next to each exhibit contained phrases like “offers an open conversation”, “this is an exploration”,  “…is a subjective affair” or asked whimsical questions of inanimate objects.

Was this the result of innate emptiness? Was this avoidance of any moral or philosophical stance a symptom of the hegemonic tyranny of existentialist thinking? asked someone.

(Then there was pointing out that this was a “design” event, and then there was pointing out by way of response that the line between “design” and “art” had been crossed when those exhibition blurbs were written, and then there were further attempts to define differences between “design” and “art”.)

But even existentialists are quite adamant about what constitutes their angsty equivalent of The Good Life. On the way home today, N and I discussed existential authenticity. Not persuaded by any of these – they seem a desperate struggle for meaning and a reason why they shouldn’t just kill themselves. But for what it’s worth, briefly:

Søren Kierkegaard problem: the media and the church, mass culture, creates the loss of significance of the individual. Society no longer forms its own opinions but relies on opinions constructed by the media. Religion too has become a tradition that passively accepted by individuals, without authentic thought.

solution: face reality, form one’s own opinions about existence, make an active choice to surrender to something that goes beyond comprehension, a leap of faith into the religious.

Friedrich Nietzsche problem: lack of questioning by the individual, herding animal morality, Christian morality = slave morality

solution: transcend limits of conventional morality to overcome oneself, revaluation of all values, decide for oneself what is good and evil, stand alone and avoid religiously constructed principles

Martin Heidegger problem: daesin has fallen away from its authentic potentiality and fallen into the world, “they” (das man) have relieved us of the “burden” of making our own choices, we live in a critically unexamined way, levelling, averageness

solution: authenticity is not about being isolated from others, but finding a different way of relating to others such that one is not lost to the “they”

Jean-Paul Sartre problem: bad faith (self-deception) is when an individual defines himself through social categorization of his formal identity, morality is a tool of the bourgeoise to control the masses, bad faith is when being-for-itself is replaced with others’ freedom

solution: authenticity is realising that the role we are playing is a lie, good faith is living within the portrait one paints of oneself and overturning set roles

Albert Camus problem: its philosophical suicide when we accept religion to relieve us of the anxiety of not having any guarantee of justice etc, life is repetitive and we live in futility and will soon be forgotten

solution: honestly confront the Absurd, live without appeal, keep life’s questions open, gain enchantment with life

not installation art, SingaPlural 2015, 99 Beach Roadfake blurb: This work draws the viewer to consider the utter futility of existential thinkers in identifying the anxiety caused by the absence of what is essential for authentic life, yet refusing to acknowledge the only One who can provide what is necessary for this life and the life to come.