Shop artisanal, chill, tuck in

Artbox Singapore to offer 320 booths of creative stuff in a 50,000 sq ft site at Marina Bay.

Tay Suan Chiang
Published Thu, Apr 6, 2017 · 09:50 PM
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THE local edition of the pop-up creative market that is famous in Bangkok will open in Singapore on two weekends this month.

Artbox Singapore will run on a 50,000 sq ft site near Marina Bay Sands on April 14 to 16 and from April 21 to 23. More than 500 vendors from Singapore and the region will ply their wares over the two weekends, and there will also be food and drinks for visitors to fuel up while shopping.

Lee Haoming, co-founder of Artbox Asia, promises it will be more than just another hipster fair.

Artbox Singapore is modelled after Artbox Thailand, where vendors are housed in containers which can be moved around different locations in Bangkok.

The items offered for sale will bear the maker's creative stamp on them; they will not be tacky products that can be found on cheap shopping websites, says Mr Lee, who is also head of strategy at Invade Industry, a creative retail-space activation and events-management company.

The vendor line-up will change each weekend to entice repeat visitors on both weekends. Each weekend will feature 320 booths - 128 F&B booths and 192 retail ones. Most of the vendors are from Singapore and Thailand, with the others coming from Malaysia, Japan and Korea.

Artbox Singapore is organised by Invade Industry and Artbox Thailand.

Mr Lee says he first went to Artbox Thailand about a year and half ago, and was impressed by its vibe and how the market brought the Thai creative community together.

"The diversity of the vendor mix, and the number of vendors at a single event, are something not seen as yet in Singapore," says the 29-year-old.

Soap and tie-dye clothing

Some of the vendors include I Wish, a handmade soap maker, and Catcher Brand, a tie-dye apparel label. Both are from Thailand.

"We'll keep the prices affordable, but the prices from the Thai vendors will be slightly higher than that in their home country," says Mr Lee.

Unlike in Bangkok, where most vendors are housed in repurposed containers, their counterparts in the Singapore edition occupy booths built to look like containers.

"Containers are the trademark look of Artbox Thailand, so we want to replicate that," says Mr Lee.

As it would be costly to have repurposed containers for only two weekends, he chose to build 2m by 2m booths using metal beams and tarpaulin. "They will have that container feel, but the structure makes it easier to configure or ship overseas."

This setup will come in handy, as he is planning to bring Artbox on an Asian tour, perhaps covering Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Korea. Artbox Singapore will be an annual affair.

There will however, be 10 repurposed containers on site, which will be converted into temporary restrooms, sponsors' offices and an Artbox Singapore merchandise shop.

A few of the 40ft containers will be stacked on top of each other to create a giant photo backdrop. "Like the fairs in Bangkok, we will have a large Artbox logo on it," says Mr Lee. "We foresee many Instagram posts with this backdrop."

Another Artbox Thailand trademark to be replicated in the Singapore edition are the fairy lights. The Singapore event will have 5,000 of them strung up on the site.

"We promise it will be a very pretty sight at night," says Mr Lee.

The dining zones at the fair will also be modelled on the Thai fair: Instead of tables and chairs, visitors will chill out on stacked wooden pallets set up on artificial turf grass.

There will also be live performances by buskers and local acoustic musicians, including Alan Fong, a 10-year-old music prodigy, and budding musician Ken Loh, 20. Both have a strong following on YouTube.

Mr Lee says: "We didn't want to bring in big names, because the aim of Artbox is to support budding artists and entrepreneurs."

He adds that with Artbox Singapore, he envisions a mash-up of a Thai night market and a local creative pop-up market, "with good vibes, entertainment, food and shopping featuring creative entrepreneurs in the heart of the city".

In case things go wrong

Invade has organised other flea markets, but not on this scale. As Mr Lee puts it, Artbox Singapore is "anything that we have done earlier multiplied by 100". The event is expected to cost S$300,000.

His company is covering the bases to ensure that the event runs smoothly - backup generators, proper piping and drainage, and even a plumber and medical team on site in case of emergencies.

He expects 300,000 to 500,000 visitors across the six days. To handle the crowds, all vendors will be equipped to accept payment by cash, NETS or credit cards.

A paging system will be set up for the F&B booths, so that visitors do not have to wait in line.

Mr Lee is confident that the more than 100 F&B booths will serve up enough food for visitors. "There will definitely be enough cups of Thai iced tea to go around," he says. "I expect this to be a success, so long as the weather holds up."

In any case, he has planned this as a rain-or-shine event. If it rains, measures have been taken to protect vendors' booths and goods.

Mr Lee notes that in Bangkok, Thai vendors hang bunches of chilli at their booths for good luck and to keep bad weather away. "I believe the Thai vendors here will do the same. There will be enough bunches of chilli to keep rain clouds at bay."

A sampling of the wares available

WITH more than 500 vendors over two weekends at Artbox Singapore, visitors will be spoilt for choice. Here are some vendors to look out for:

Loco Loco

Loco Loco churros are made fresh on site, and come in flavours such as original, red velvet and pandan. The churros come coated with cinnamon sugar, with the option to add sauces such as chocolate, caramel, white chocolate or gula melaka.

Tio Smoke

The hottest thing on the dessert scene now is Dragon's Breath, a cup dessert made of corn crackers, meringue and puffed cereal, all doused in liquid nitrogen, which causes smoke to billow dramatically from it. Tio Smoke's Dragon's Breath meringues come in seven flavours, including Oreo and blueberry.

The Lab

This is a halal cafe that serves up Western foods such as burgers and pastas. The highlight are the desserts, including galaxy mirror-glaze cakes and doughnuts.

Kane Mochi

What originated in Bangkok is now available in Singapore. Kane Mochi are bite-sized pieces of mochi (rice cakes) filled with ice cream. The brand offers unusual flavours such as lime, taro (yam) and Thai iced tea.


Bearing the same name of the popular flea market in Bangkok, Chatuchak offers Thai ice tea and yogurt drinks. But its speciality is the egglet waffle, which is moist and crisp, and best eaten with ice cream.

Rochor Thai

Located at Thomson Road, Rochor Thai is popular among Singaporean diners. One of its signature dishes is the Pad Thai Rochor Thai, a noodle dish with crab meat and fresh prawns, tossed with beansprouts, chives and egg.

Rattana Thai

This seven-year-old Thai joint is popular with the Tanjong Pagar working crowd. At Artbox Singapore, visitors can taste their Thai mango sticky rice and the hot favourite, crispy Thai fried chicken.

The Wicked Cream Co

The plain marshmallow gets a luxe touch from The Wicked Cream Co. Some of the exotic flavours that it offers include red velvet, Bailey's salted caramel and cotton candy bubblegum.


Airmocks' products give you the pleasure of chilling in a hammock - without the need for trees. Airmocks come with their own stands to hang the netting on. Everything is collapsible and can be packed into a carrying bag.


Local company Pindemic says wearing lapel pins can make a big impact on any outfit. Besides collaborations with other companies, it also produces its own range of pins that are fun and quirky.

Kei Collective

Need a new bag for work? Kei Collective offers a selection of calf leather bags for work and travel. These roomy bags are designed by Thanida "Oat" Dhimasombat, who adheres to the architects' philosophy of form meeting function in her designs.

I Wish

Thai brand I Wish has long been known for its handmade soaps in cute shapes, such as flowers, candies and eggs. The soaps are made of 100 per cent natural ingredients and contain a mixture of essential oils.

Catcher Brand

Frequent visitors to Chatuchak Market will know of Catcher Brand. The Thai label stocks mostly tie-dye apparel for women.

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