Singapore Design Week 2016 – National Design Centre: Design and Make Fair

Singapore Design Week 2016 at the National Design Centre. This was the site of one of NAFA’s former campuses – I have fond memories of the place in its previous incarnation and the promising smell of watercolour paint that used permeate the place.

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Design and Make Fair
The Design and Make Fair, said the official non-committal blurb,

is an introduction to the lively, growing community of designers and makers in Singapore, many of whom are small business entrepreneurs that produce delightful creations. It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone and everyone to get started on the creative process of making, and appreciate design embedded in everyday living.

It was certainly more middle-class design-focused than Maker Faire (facebook), Supermama’s Trunk Show featured:

what was advertised as maki-e painting, but turned out to be another way of getting designed lacquerware – by painting layers of naturally-dyed lacquer onto a pair of chopsticks and then sanding off sections to produce a pattern. The originally-advertised maki-e, it was explained, would have taken too many days to do:

Design and Make Fair. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Design and Make Fair. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
Design and Make Fair. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
For S$30, you could sand down a pair of lacquerware chopsticks for yourself.

In the foyer, you could make an abacus under the watchful eye of another Japanese craftsman (Mr Hidetaka Miyanaga?) for, I think, S$30 as well.

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design CentrePrepared as we were to be educated and wowed by these Japanese master craftsmen, the lack of knowledge of the salesgirls, the regretable inability of the craftsmen themselves to converse in fluent English, resulted in little communication at all about the intricacies of each trade. Instead, the constant refrain to pay up for a go a chopsticks-sanding etc. just left us feeling a little vulgar.

  1. Why the push to vapid consumerism?
  2. And surely even vapid consumerism requires some hardsell? Ask any of the pasar malam salesmen with their sweaty portable microphones.

What a lost opportunity to really showcase the artisans Supermama (facebook) had taken the pains to find and partner with.

How far this was from the appreciation shown by Richard Sennett to craftsmen (in The Craftsman), whom, he says, glory in the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake; good craftsmanship involving hardship and struggle, developing skills. Not for them are those tedious superficial signs of self-promotion (“artisanal”, “atelier”).

On the ground floor though, the lack of aspirational figures in the One Maker Group‘s Make! Prototyping Lab space did not diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd. How could they get access to the 3D printer? When were the woodworking classes?, eager mothers-with-precocious children wanted to know.

Make! Prototyping Lab. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Make! Prototyping Lab. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
Make! Prototyping Lab. Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design CentreLeather making (Atelier Lodge, The General Company, Stone for Gold, Lucky Apron Studio), woodworking, laser-cutting (Steammetry (facebook)), electronics, 3D printing classes abound in Singapore. If the maker movement really takes off locally so that amateur attempts mature into something more masterful (currently watching: Jeremiah Ang of J. Myers), and if making is thinking (qua Richard Sennett), then it will be very interesting to observe the relationship between Singapore society and artisanal products (qualitatively so, not just branding) in 10, 20 years.

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre

Singapore Design Week (March 2016), National Design Centre
Would there be a general shift from passive consumption? Will we reach beyond quirky merchandisation? What mindset shifts would occur? How will values change?

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.