Off the given track
Colin Seah, design director at Ministry of Design
"I like buying presents throughout the year, especially during my travels to places such as Tokyo, Taipei, Barcelona and Melbourne. I usually buy some decorative pieces for the home, small art works or food delicacies. You can pick up gifts which you may not be able to find in Singapore. It is less stressful and more meaningful this way.
I love checking out new, trendy lifestyle-driven neighbourhoods when abroad and typically come across lots of cool stores. In Singapore, I would go to stores such as atomi and Supermama.
This year, I became a godfather, so I have an extra present to buy, on top of gifts for my father, siblings and nephews. Gifts that express familiarity or a close relationship with the giver mean a lot to me, so any gift, however humble, that does that makes my day.
I have received bad gifts before. I remember getting a fairly silly gag gift during a gift exchange. It was intentionally silly and after one laugh, it was consigned to the bin. I give books as presents, I guess it is because I love receiving them as well. If anyone wanted to buy me something but didn't know what to get, I'd be super-happy with a book voucher. But I don't mind receiving books such as those featuring the works of Herzog & de Meuron.
I have a crockery fetish so I collect ceramics. I don't mind getting something for the kitchen or house. My love of ceramics definitely has to do with my love of cooking, entertaining and eating, or the ritual and ceremonial quality of eating socially. I love Asian ceramics, especially those with a minimal aesthetic. Recently however, I bought the 'hybrid' collection by Selletti, which is an East-meets-West design.
I also have some plates from the Singapore Icons collection from Supermama. This year, someone is getting a beautiful hand-blown glass set from Shotoku Glass Co, the Japanese glassware studio. The glasses are incredibly ephemeral and impossibly thin. When you pick them up, they feel like they might almost disintegrate in your hands and the banal phenomenon of drinking becomes quite a trip."
- Herzog & de Meuron 1997-2001, $257.74, from Kinokuniya, Ngee Ann City, #03-09. OWN Glass by Graf, from $59 for a set of two glasses, from atomi, Mandarin Gallery, #04-27