Design Day Out

Singapore Architecture Week came and went, as did the World Architecture Festival…quietly. Whereas October would be bustling with both locally and internationally organized design events in Singapore, this year seemed to have just fizzled out. And it’s only the second week of the month.

Thankfully, Singapore InDesign (SID) is back after a one-year hiatus (the design day out was held in Hong Kong last year), so design aficionados had something. On the other hand, the well-oiled machine turned up quieter than its past two iterations.

These were the destinations our little band of ex-teammates went to. We started at Xtra, of course, where SID used to begin and end, after breakfast at Kith at Park Mall.
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Next we took the SID shuttle over to Liang Court to see Sand, the children’s furniture collection by Hong Kong-based Italian designer Silvia Marlia, at OM.

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We hopped over to APS Gallery to visit Romanez, which was showing off its Christian Lacroix for Designers Guild collection, and the APS kitchen showroom, which served a custom-designed cocktail by Nuevo Vino, called the Smurf Cocktail.

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We took a breather and lunched at the chi-chi PS Cafe Petit next door to APS before moving on to the Red Dot Museum. The biggest thing to see there was The Tree by laminate company EDL and Formwerkz Architects. Although its steel skeleton was solidly screwed, all the laminate members were attached by a tongue-and-groove design.

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Our favorite stop was Dream Interiors. Maybe because we all wanted the furniture here; maybe because the showroom was just so beautifully put together…we spent the most time just caressing the pieces and photographing the settings here. And also, a shoutout to Shawn and Ivee, who are always warm and welcoming, and helpfully informative. Ivee explained the Charlotte Periand chaise longue inside the EDL-laminate structure as being one of seven limited edition pieces of the iconic piece covered in Louis Vuitton leather, available in Singapore.

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We went to W. Atelier from Dream to see the new Fritz Hansen showroom, Novamobili and Toto. Fritz Hansen had an Egg chair in its finishing stages of hand-stitching. We were told that the master craftsman who accompanied the raw materials from Denmark had only started the stitching that morning. It takes eight hours to hand stitch a fabric Egg chair. This special fabric, for this one of a kind and very special chair, was designed by Raf Simons for Christian Dior. It is the only chair in this fabric hand-stitched in Singapore, and should now be available on auction, starting at S$30,000. The entire amount it ends up raising will go to a charity for children with Down Syndrome.

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We ended our day at the newly opened Janus et Cie showroom. While the furniture on highlight here was the woven-faux wicker resort-style designs, it was the lighting and one-off pieces that I found most interesting. And the kir imperial that they served.

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Singapore Design Week

With Maison & Objet Asia’s debut show opening the week, and the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) closing it, the Singapore Furniture Industries Council teamed up with the DesignSingapore Council to pad up the decor and furniture fairs with events like Singaplural and the 48 Hour Challenge.

The highlight for me, though, was the opening of the National Design Centre on Middle Road. Taking off from the original structure, a convent school, design firm SCDA adapted the building into the offices of the DesignSingapore Council, complete with prototype lab, design appreciation lab, exhibition galleries, event space and cafe/retail space.

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Currently on exhibit are the finalists and winners (shown here) of the Furniture Design Awards, which are held in conjunction with the IFFS.

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Here are a few snaps of Maison & Objet Asia

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Singaplural: 30 LifeStories

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And the 48 Hours Challenge at Park Mall and Robinsons

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Milan Design Week: Hermes goodness

Beyond wrist and arm candy (in The Devil Wears Prada Miranda Priestly wears a white Hermes scarf around her wrist; in Le Divorce the Kelly Bag appears as a character much more glamorous than Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson; and of course we all know about the Birkin), Hermes is also known for its small fashion and home accessories.

Like these picnic gear from the Spring-Summer 2013 Objets collection:
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At Milan Design Week this year, Hermes launched its newest home collection, consisting of furniture, fabrics and wallpaper (the luxury brand launched its first full furniture collection in 2011, and went into wall units last year).
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There’s still some of that traditional equestrian touch if you look closely, but this new collection feels much younger and edgier than previous accessories, shapes and prints.

I loved the set-up in Brera last year, especially because of Shigeru Ban’s Module H, and from the pictures this year, could only wish to have seen the presentation in person. Home collection launches and the occasional Hermes-sponsored art exhibit openings are the only time I can ever touch and absorb the Hermes goodness…oh, and when I receive the magazine/catalogue in the mail.
Images courtesy Hermes

Milan Fair: Singapore represent!

A small contingent organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and Design Singapore Council is showing at Zona Tortona, one of the fringe event destinations (actually considered the most critically acclaimed) during the Salone del Mobile Internazionale. Last year, I hobbled my way through Zona Tortona a second day, after parting with my Fair accomplice, because it had all the names worth writing about. I guess the Singapore contingent figured that out, too, because they chose to exhibit here, rather than at Rho Fiera (the fairgrounds).

Part of the contingent, collectively calling themselves Singapore lah! is new Singapore label Hinika, helmed by Australian-born designer Jarrod Lim. “Hinika” takes its name from the Japanese term roughly translated as “someday” – and you can see the wistful, whimsical sentiment in its lovely wooden pieces. Jarrod apprenticed for the likes of Matthew Hilton and Patricia Urquiola, and his craftsmanship reflects that.
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Another new Singapore label is Kapsule, from President’s Design Award-winner Kelvin Teo, who is both an interior and furniture designer. He’s got fun statement pieces like Doggy Hart, Pebble Table and Telephone Booth shelf.

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If you are not immersed in Singapore design culture, and Hinika and Kapsule are your first exposure to it, I can tell you that they are very representative of the young country’s aesthetic: Japanese-influenced in its Zen and modernist sensibilities on one hand, and cheeky-fun, primary colors on the other.

The Spanish armada in Milan

Ooh-la-la, the Españols are making their presence felt in Italy.

Waiting in my overflowing Milan Fair mail folder was this juicy release from RED, the Reunion Empresas de Diseño (Association of Spanish design companies), with a who’s who of Spanish brands: Andreu World, Enea, Made Design, Vondom, Sancal, BD Barcelona Design, Expormin, Sellex, Mobilfresno, Nanimarquina, Lladro, LZF Lamps, Vibia, Marset and Santa&Cole.

Of the list, I am most familiar with Andreu World, Vondom, Sancal, BD Barcelona Design (whose booth I kept coming back to last year to drool over the limited edition mirror by Antoni Gaudi), Nanimarquina, Lladro and LZF Lamps.

It’s very different when you’re looking at a press release, and when you’re trawling the halls in Rho Fiera. You get sensory overload at the fairgrounds, and you’re looking at installations, looking for trends. With a press release, you pay more attention to the little details.

Right now, I’m liking the following:

Andreu World’s Olivia collection of solid oak side tables / stools
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Made Design’s Berna recycling bins by Stone Designs. They look a little too deep and narrow for practical reasons, but I like the CMYK-way they look together – they make garbage segregation so hipster, haha.
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Sancal’s Sumo sofa by Yonoh studio looks as cushy as a marshmallow! I could be a couch potato in this.
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Looking like marshmallow on sticks? Sancal’s Elephant poufs by Nadadora. Yummy.
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It’s the Year of the Snake (if you follow Oriental zodiac), and I’ve been known to wear snakeskin print (shoes, bag, shirt, dress…yeah), so how can I not at least consider the Bouroullec brothers’ Losanges II carpet for Nanimarquina? Sure, Erwan Bourollec says it’s all about diamond geometry…but what do your eyes see?
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How cute are these lantern-inspired pendant lamps called Chou by Yonoh studio for LZF?
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Inspired by the disco ball, Scotch Club is a ceramic pendant lamp by Xavier Mañosa and Mashallah for Marset.
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I have to include this picture of Jaime Hayon in the outdoor seat Gardenias that he designed for BD Barcelona. I have to admit, while I’m truly relieved not to be freezing in Milan, I am green with envy that my colleague is interviewing him! She doesn’t even habla Español 😦 Asi es la vida.
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(Muchas gracias RED for the photographs)

Design this and that

THIS: the International Furniture Fair Singapore 2013 + 30th ASEAN Furniture Show is the fair I’ve regularly seen since 2007. This year was…quiet.

While Polish designer Piotr Saladra’s Artichoke pouf (below) joined the ranks of previous Furniture Design Award (FDA) winners — there was a retrospective of past winners like Kenneth Cobonpue, Nathan Yong, Anon Pairot, Jarrod Lim and Outofstock at Singaplural in Scape — in opening the four-day event with a burst of color, the fair itself seemed lackluster.
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Few design highlights, like the FutureCraft showcase, made it to the Singapore expo (most of the newsy design events were at Scape).
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Fortunately, some of the bigger exhibitors made an effort, like D-Bodhi, which is becoming a leading presence at IFFS, not only for its booth size, but for setting design trends among the other manufacturers (reclaimed teak was a much-repeated byword this year).
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The edgy-on-the-outside Carezza:
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(I really just liked the studded metal shell of the booth — here’s a closer look)
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The go-big-or-go-home Villa Francaise:
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The delightfully tactile and colorful Sharda, which was one of my favorite booths:
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The quirky Sunbrella:
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And then there the Singapore brands, with fortress-like booths so jealously guarded by wary staff (not everyone with a phone camera is a factory owner from China looking to knock off your designs…I get it — but you know, nobody in Milan behaves this way, even when the Salone del Mobile is swarmed with Chinese “buyers”).
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And to add to the so-so reception, D-Space seemed diluted (perhaps, again, because some elements were transported to Singaplural at Scape). There was a Green Pavilion, with really interesting material like this cork fabric — but it wasn’t designed to look like a fair highlight (we miss those days when designers like Jarrod Lim were commissioned to make this space special).
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Platform, which used to showcase up-and-coming designers, was very small.
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So was the Mozaic designers collection
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(Cici and Honfay of Ciliconfaytory seemed like Mozaic brands’ flavor of the year)
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Here’s a couple more images from my favorite booths:
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…and THAT:
Two new shops opened the same week that IFFS opened. Toto Kitchen on Bukit Timah Road:
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And Timothy Oulton at Dempsey:
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Design Saturday*

March 9th officially opened the International Furniture Fair Asia (IFFS) at the Changi Expo, with fringe design event Singaplural at Scape, but alphabeticalife and Sleepwalking had a different “Design Saturday” of their own in mind, and they let me tag along.

First stop was The Library x Sunny Hills, a pop-up design books-library initiated by Jing Quek and graciously hosted by cult Taiwanese pineapple tart specialist Sunny Hills.

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Nourished with pineapple tart and oolong tea, we took the MRT circle line to industrial district Tai Seng / Macpherson for what we thought would be an afternoon of antiquing at Oddysey and Hock Siong.

Oddysey is a little shop selling vintage curio and refurbished furniture.

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Hock Siong is a warehouse where furniture, furnishing accessories, and even mattresses discarded during hotel renovations and post-showflat-use go to find a new lease on life.

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Alphabeticalife had hoped to score a pair of bookends from Oddysey or Hock Siong, but someone had already bought it. Since we were in the area, I suggested 85 Playfair Road, home of lifestyle shop Egg3 and local furniture’s design doyen Nathan Yong’s Grafunkt.

At Egg3, alphabeticalife found something to buy.
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At Grafunkt, we all found something to want.
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Like these pendant lights.
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I have also been wanting this desk-sound system since forever.
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I really like Nathan’s aesthetic.
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(fortress of solitude, anyone?)
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These made an appearance at the IFFS Design Space:
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We ended the afternoon with authentic Italian gelato. Fitting, because the last time my feet ached so much from walking up, down and all around an industrial area was at Zona Tortona during last year’s Salone in Milan.
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