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Design, front and centre
ARE you good with your hands? Have some creative ideas? If yes, you could play designer and create a product of your own, using craft and traditional materials at Singapore's first Design and Make Fair.
The fair, to be held at the National Design Centre, is a key event at this year's Singapore Design Week (SDW), where Singaporeans and international visitors can immerse themselves in a diverse range of more than 100 design events and programmes.
SDW runs from March 8 to 20, and is organised by DesignSingapore Council.
Its executive director Jeffrey Ho expects the fair to be a big hit with Singaporeans. Besides workshops, more than 30 homegrown designers, craftsmen, artisans and makers such as The Farm Store and Supermama will display their craft, wares and products.
He says: "We have been seeing an increase in consumers buying locally designed products, and there are more and more people who are making them, which is indicative of the level of awareness and appreciation that the general public has for design. The fair is a good platform for us to nurture this growing interest."
Design and Make Fair is in line with the council's aim of bringing design to the masses through SDW. Now in its third year, the council promises that this year's edition will be bigger and better.
The number of events has doubled since SDW started in 2014, and there are now more interactive events. "These are activities that the general public can appreciate," he says.
One of them is Design Trails, where visitors can hop onto shuttle buses hired to take them around Jalan Besar/Geylang and Joo Chiat. There will be stops at design studios and visitors can speak with designers and even get involved in making things.
For young ones too
There are also more kid-friendly events too, such as Prototyping for Kids, for those aged five to 12. At this workshop, kids are taught how to create structures using straws. Such events are a way to give children an early appreciation of design through play. "We hope to make design part of their growing knowledge," says Mr Ho.
SDW's other key event is Singaplural, organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council. This year marks the fifth Singaplural.
Just like SDW, this is bigger this year, says its chairman Mark Yong. Singaplural 2016, which runs from March 7 to 13 at 99 Beach Road, will have a record 71 installations by designers, manufacturers, builders and design schools; there is an increase in content by about 30 per cent.
Last year, installations were housed mostly on the first floor and open areas at 99 Beach Road, the former Central Police Station. This year, they will also occupy the second level of the old blocks. This year's theme for Singaplural, "Senses - the art and science of experiences", will also mean that installations are more interactive. "We want the public to experience sensorial design beyond aesthetics," says Mr Yong.
One such installation is I Feel The Clouds Singing by Studio Asobi, a local ceramic studio. Ceramic artists Lee Huiwen and Kenneth Lau are using rattan and clay to create an interactive cloud-scape installation. Visitors are encouraged to run their fingers over the clay pieces.
"We hope to draw our visitors away from the hustle and bustle of life and invite them to imagine what it might be like to walk among clouds, to be able to touch them and feel them and hear their whispers," says Ms Lee, a first-time Singaplural participant. "Hopefully, this installation will encourage our visitors to pay more attention to the beauty and wonder of nature that is all around us, even in this urbanised environment."
Mr Yong adds: "With more interactive installations, we hope that visitors will want to spend more time at Singaplural." In previous editions, most people spent about an hour or two, but this year, he hopes "they will stay the whole day".
While SDW and Singaplural cater to the public, both events also aim to connect designers and businesses.
This year also marks the first Innovation by Design Conference, where top design leaders and heads of design-led businesses reveal their design and innovative journey. Speakers include Masaaki Kanai, chairman and representative director of Ryohin Keikaku, the parent company of MUJI and renowned Spanish designer Jaime Hayon. The conference is targeted at designers and businesses, but is open to the public too.
Mr Yong says businesses such as material companies have benefited from taking part in Singaplural. Rather than just display materials such as laminates in a static way, materials players partner with designers and show their products in more unconventional forms.
For example, at last year's Singaplural, artist Noreen Loh, better known as Miun, used pieces of laminates to create floral sculptures.
This year, four design studios will create items using a table top surface material from Luxx Newhouse, a materials company. What is usually meant for table tops has been transformed, for example, into lamp shades by the designers of Studio Juju.
Jimmy Tong, founder of Luxx Newhouse, is impressed with the results. "Hopefully, people will fully realise the potential of solid surfaces and how adaptable they are to various disciplines."
Mr Yong adds that over the years, more materials players have chosen to showcase their products at Singaplural, "as it allows consumers and designers to see what they can offer, unlike at trade shows, which are mostly for a select group of people".
For designers, taking part in Singaplural has not only meant that the general public is able to see their products, but it has also led them to collaborations with new partners.
Last year, designer Chan Wai Lim presented a range of outdoor rocking furniture in the shape of a puppy, pig and cat. The public were encouraged to hop onto the furniture which resulted in many photos on social media and coverage in international design magazines. Subsequently, she was approached by whisky brand Glenfiddich to create an art piece to accompany a limited edition bottle of whisky to mark Singapore's Jubilee year.
Ms Chan says events like Singaplural bring together local and regional like-minded and passionate designers. "It is an event where we share and exchange different cultures, identity, and insights." This year, she will be participating again, this time, presenting a range of jewellery boxes in the form of endangered animals.
Ivonnn Law, managing director of VONQUESTON Showroom & Gallery, is participating in SDW for the first time. The company will be showing handmade lifestyle products by emerging Asian designers and craftsmen. She says SDW is an important platform for the design industry in Singapore, as "it gives our designers and businesses an avenue to share their design capabilities, brand stories and products with consumers, industry stakeholders and the general public".
She adds that by participating in SDW, she hopes "to educate and grow advocacy for Asian emerging artists and designers through our curated showcase and that our brands will receive increased visibility, brand profiling and most importantly, more business deals".
What's on for Singapore Design Week
THE annual Singapore Design Week, which runs from March 8 to 20, brings together a collection of local and international design activities. For a full list of events, see www.designsingapore.org/SDW.
Here's what not to miss.
Design and Make Fair
March 8 to 20, 11am to 8pm
National Design Centre
This inaugural fair will house more than 30 Singapore designers under one roof, making it a one-stop shop to buy all things by local brands.
Some participating names are familiar, such as Supermama and Epigram Books; others are lesser known, such as Momolato Popsicles, floral artist Fleurapy and wallpaper company Onlewo.
But it is not just about buying stuff. Visitors can also design and make their own products by participating in workshops such as soap-crafting, glass-painting, leather-crafting and ceramic doll-making.
Design Trails: Thoughtful Design
March 19, 20, 11am to 6pm,
National Design Centre and Jalan Besar/Geylang and Joo Chiat areas
Hop on the Design Trail shuttle service from the National Design Centre and go on a tour of the Jalan Besar and Joo Chiat areas. The tour will make stops at several well-designed spaces and also at design studios.
You'll get to visit design studios such as The Half Half Studio, Fictive Fingers and Papypress and also to better known places such as KARAFURU Desserts cafe and The South Beach development.
Buses run at 25-minute intervals.
Innovation by Design Conference
March 15, 16, 9am to 5pm, Drama
Centre, National Library Building
Admission: Free, but pre-registration is required at innovationbydesign2016.peatix.com
The signature event of Singapore Design Week will discuss ways in which design influences innovation and the impact it has on business success. It is targeted more at design businesses, but the public is welcome to attend too.
This will be the chance to hear from speakers such as Masaaki Kanai, chairman of Ryohin Keikaku, the parent company of MUJI, Janice Wong, chef and founder of 2am: dessert bar, and Dionne Song, managing director of Zalora, on how design has helped their business.
March 7 to 13, 11am to 10pm,
99 Beach Road
Admission: S$5 until March 6 and S$10 on site price from March 7, available from singaplural2016.peatix.com
Back for the fifth year, SingaPlural's line-up of activities covers all elements of design from advertising, architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture to interior, furniture, graphic and fashion design.
This year's theme is "Senses - the Art and Science of Experiences", which promises lots of interactive installations.
In addition, there will be talks, tours, workshops and live performances on site.
March 8 to 11, 11am to 7pm,
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre Basement 2
Admission: Free, registration required at www.maison-objet.com/en/asia
Singapore Design Week gets an international touch through the Asian edition of the French trade show Maison&Objet.
Of the 180 brands that will be exhibiting, up to 40 per cent are exclusive to this Asian show. If you are an interior designer, this is the networking platform to attend. There is also a curated exhibition featuring key international and regional brands that provide inspiration and concepts for the hospitality and F&B industry.
International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) 2016
March 10 to 13, 9am to 6pm,
Singapore Expo, Halls 1-6
Admission: S$20 for trade members, free admission for the public on the last day, from noon to 5pm
Now in its 33rd year, the IFFS has long cemented its status as the region's leading event for furniture manufacturers, furniture buyers and interior designers to source for the latest products.
This year's edition gathers more than 350 exhibitors, including new players from Ireland, Lebanon, Mexico and Russia.
While the fair is mostly for trade visitors, the public can head there on the last day of the show. Not only is this a good opportunity to source for ideas for the home, but most of the furniture pieces on display are also for sale.