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Designs on 2015
HOW did a growing number of Singaporeans get creative this year? By designing and making things - from 3D printed models and miniature plastic sculpting, to soldering electronics and even building their own furniture. "This was a watershed year for the Maker movement in Singapore, with much interest coming from both the public and private sectors to start maker-related projects," says William Hooi, founder of SG Makers, a community that advocates technology and innovation through the Makers' movement. He organised the highly successful Makers' Block: A Build, Craft & Design Experience, the largest maker festival, in June.
The event may be over but that has not stopped people from making their own items, judging from the popularity of workshops teaching people to build terrariums, or even how to bend copper pipes to make them into lamps.
The opening of the Prototyping Lab at the National Design Centre (NDC), a space that provides designers, entrepreneurs, the Maker community and the public with access to tools and equipment for prototyping, is further testament to the popularity of the Makers' movement.
The Makers' movement looks set to grow even bigger next year. Mr Hooi cites how agencies such as the Science Centre Singapore will reach out to schools through regular maker road-shows and the biggest Singapore Mini Maker Faire to date.
Another boost for local design this year came from the opening of the NDC. DesignSingapore Council's executive director Jeffrey Ho says that it adds vibrancy to Singapore's design eco-system by bringing together the local design community, enterprises and the public to explore opportunities, inspire a culture of co-creation and, simply, to learn more about design.
This year also saw the inaugural launch of the Singapore Design Week, which garnered strong interest and support from the design community and the general public. Some 96,000 participants attended over 50 design activities held during Design Week in March.
Singapore Design Week will return again in March, with SingaPlural as its key event. The last three editions were organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), but next year will be the first time the council is collaborating with a local team of curators "who will bring cohesiveness to SingaPlural through a well-defined festival construct," says SFIC president Ernie Koh.
Besides, unlike previous editions where activities were held at several locations, the main programmes of SingaPlural 2015 will be at an iconic location at 99 Beach Road, a historical site which is the former Central Police Station.
Apart from the homegrown International Furniture Fair Singapore, which saw a steady increase in visitors to the show, Singapore welcomed another prestigious home furnishing show. Maison & Objet, the biggest design trade show in Paris made its Asian debut in Singapore earlier this year.
Maison & Objet Asia returns with a bigger show in March, featuring an expanded selection of the best of high-end decoration and home fashion by prestigious brands.
The month of March was not the only busy month on the design calendar. October saw a peak in activities relating to architecture. The Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) handed out its annual awards for well-designed projects in Singapore, and also held its first ArchXpo, an exhibition showcasing the latest technologies, products and related services in the architectural and built environment industries.
The general public was not left out either, as the annual Archifest made its return, with talks by architects as well as site visits.
"We had something on architecture for all walks of society, getting the professionals and the public engaged at the same events," says SIA president Theodore Chan.
He gives a sneak peek at next year's Archifest, "which will be even bigger with more bang, including an architectural appreciation talk for the public and a photo exhibition by young architects on their favourite places in Singapore".
On the shopping front, more design-centric stores, such as Kapok and Bloesem, boomed this year.
Even stylish global-affairs magazine Monocle jumped on the bandwagon by opening its Singapore store early this month.
Watson Lee, owner of year-old The Redundant Shop says the market is not yet saturated with such design shops as most of them tend to cluster in the same locales, such as Tiong Bahru or Haji Lane. He acknowledges that the challenge that store owners such as himself face is in the selection of products.
"A majority of the shops rely on local distributors for their stocks, and as such, shoppers tend to see the same products being sold at different stores," he says. "Many shop owners also observe what other shops sell and search for the distributors to increase their product range and to reach out to the same group."
Does he think that there will be more such shops and can the market sustain them? "Definitely. With a good, and unique location, and proper curation of goods, the market should still be able to accept it," he says.
Those who are doing up their homes may want to take their cue from the colours that industry experts say will be ontrend in 2015.
Julian Koh, head of design at Commune, which recently opened its second furniture store at Paragon says, "Colours such as grey, khaki and tan brown leather with a splash of colours from throw cushions - this offers the versatility to change the look with different throws and cushions."
Hue and cry
Just like how colour company Pantone recently announced Marsala as its colour of the year for 2015, paint company AkzoNobel also has a colour of the year. For 2015, it is Copper Orange, a warm orangey hue that marks a move towards warmer and more mellow colours.
"It represents a new emphasis on the concept of sharing, and reflects a sense of positivity and optimism globally, marking a shift from the cooler blue and green shades like indigo and teal that were popular in previous years," says Jeremy Rowe, managing director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints, South East and South Asia.
Copper Orange combines well with neutral shades such as off-white, as well as with other warm hues such as pinks and yellows, and metallic gold and wood tones.
"You can choose to add Copper Orange by repainting one wall at home with it," says Mr Rowe. "Or incorporate this new colour through small touches with home decor items, such as throw cushions, a statement lamp or a new set of bedlinen."