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Showcasing Singapore's design talents
FIRST there was Keepers, a local design collective which set up shop last September in a purpose-built space in Orchard Green next to Singapore Visitors Centre, featuring more than 50 home-grown fashion brands.
Now Singaporeans can show their support for more local designers at a pop-up shop located within Tangs department store.
Located on Level 3, Born & Raised features works by over 25 local talents and runs till Aug 31.
It is started by Watson Lee, who is also the founder of The Redundant Shop, a lifestyle store at Everton Park that sells well-designed products. "Tangs approached us last year about setting up a concept shop in their flagship store, to celebrate SG50," Mr Lee explains.
He came up with the idea of a concept shop divided into four categories, featuring local talents. The categories are: Lifestyle for products such as bicycles, 3D printed products, watches, T-shirts and totebags; Merchandise which includes notebooks, stickers and even coffee powder; Art, for artworks, and linocut prints; and Design, featuring works by fashion designers, craftsmen, and makers.
Put simply, the range of items include accessories, food, furniture, jewellery, watches, toys, and sneakers.
"Born & Raised's mission is to create a platform which enables local talents, including brands, designers, artists and makers, to showcase their creativity through the retailing of their work or products. The aim is to allow shoppers and more Singaporeans to understand the process of transforming creativity into sustainability."
Mr Lee adds that his team worked on creating a brand name that represents local talents, rather than just shouting "SG50". "We came up with different names and finally decided on Born & Raised, which we felt was most appropriate."
Naturally, the talents featured had to be Singaporeans, or at least Permanent Residents. "Although it is important to ensure they are born and raised in Singapore, we always wanted to be sure that they are a locally registered business, a local brand or a local label," says Mr Lee.
The designers featured are a mix of both established and lesser-known names. "Some talents have full-time jobs and only craft their products during the weekends," explains Mr Lee.
For example Jenny Chen works in advertising but creates handmade purses under the label Granny Purse. There is also Johnny Chong, who works in retail and makes bracelets and necklaces under the Workdesk label. Alvin Chan is a full-time industrial designer, but has found time to create concrete lamps under his label Concrete Everything.
"We want to showcase their passion and inspiration behind their work and products," says Mr Lee.
Mr Lee also says he is "extremely honoured to have some very established local designers, artists and brands come onboard". Some of the names under Born & Raised who have their own cult following include artist Jahan Loh, Mark Ong from SBTG, fashion label Depression, cruise wear label Yacht21, and Monster Gallery.
Many of the items on sale are exclusive to Born & Raised. They include art gallery-cum-toy workshop Flabslab's PAPA range of products, such as sculptures, totebags and oil paintings. The PAPA series have the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's image on them.
Linocut artist Joseph Chiang from Monster Gallery also offers exclusive items, such as his LKY linocut prints of which there are only 50 pieces, as well as the National Theatre tote bags and T-shirts.
Those who are looking to dress up their walls may want to consider getting Jahan Loh's "Luncheon" and "Syrup" canvas prints, or his Syrup lenticular print of which there are only 25 pieces.
On the fashion front, Mr Lee's Redundant Shop is collaborating with design label SBTG to create customised New Balance 996 shoes as well as Born & Raised T-shirts.
"Besides that, we are very excited that local cruise wear label Yacht21 will be launching their latest collection 'Samsui Goes to Work' exclusively at Born & Raised in May.
And forget about those hipster coffee joints. For some old school kopi, there is a special local coffee blend on sale. "We worked with Ho Tit, the oldest coffee roaster in Singapore for this blend," says Mr Lee.
Some of Born & Raised's popular items include the LKY linocut print by Monster Gallery, merchandise from the Ang Ku Kueh Girls label by designer Wang ShiJia, and Mr Loh's Reconstituted Philosophies T-shirts.
Asked what plans there are for Born & Raised after its run ends in August, Mr Lee says it will depend on how well the response is over the next few months. He hopes to be able to run it till the end of the year, so that he can bring in more local talents to this platform.
"We need active support from our local community in order for designers and artists to open up new possibilities and opportunities," says Mr Lee. "Many of the partners are very established artists or designers, but they never had a suitable platform to commercialise their work. We hope this is the beginning of more to come."