My work was showcased at the INDIGO Mother Tongue Exhibition at Originality 100, an international conference on visual communication design at the National Taiwan University of Arts during the IDA World Design Congress 2011. The exhibition was curated by David Lancashire, and co-organized by ICOGRADA, the Taiwan Graphic Design Association, and Art Charity Taiwan.
About the work:
This dictionary has been present in the family household since my parents moved from Tokyo to Paris in 1979. None of us could speak a word of French back then.
This object quickly became indispensable in everyday life and served as connector between our home where Japanese was spoken, and the outside world where French was omnipresent.
Today, as I look at this dictionary, I am reminded that somewhere along the way, some of my Japanese got lost. But the words that I have forgotten are all in this book to be found again.
I was recently invited to contribute a piece to an HIV/AIDS awareness project for the Centre for the Study of AIDS. The initiative is carried out by my designer friend Jacques Lange and consists of a boxed set of six A6 sized notebooks/mini diaries intended to be a versatile tool for whomever uses and how it is used – either for documenting thoughts, visual diaries, planning, scheduling, noting, recording, etc. The six notebooks/mini diaries will be contained in a black slip cover which will carry the CSA branding and the title “Leading edge” which is the overall theme of the project.
My contribution (pictured above): Cabbages and Condoms is a restaurant in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok that works toward AIDS awareness and prevention. It was set up by the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), one of Thailand’s most established NGOs.
From my purse appear a disorganized bundle of bills (from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam), multiple boarding passes from Air Asia, miscellaneous taxi receipts, and the occasional odd souvenir, such as the green bean cake from Hanoi (pictured above). It’s been 18 days of fun adventure including mishaps (lost taxi drivers, conversational misunderstandings, small injuries), and astonishing sights and experiences (Jakarta traffic jams, over the top ceremonial dinners, governmental meetings, creative encounters, smiles and laughs). Now back in Bangkok, thinking about my 65 interviews, while reflecting on the role of art, culture, and creativity. I am growing very fond of the region, its creative people in particular who are so invested and passionate about what they do (thank you for sharing your stories). I am inspired by the potential though much aware of the many challenges and hurdles that can get in the way. Next stops are Phnom Penh and Chiang Mai…
Beautiful drawings of Penang, Malaysia, by Ch’ng Kiah Kiean, a local artist, architect and designer born in 1974. Published in 2009 and edited by Lee Khai. (Thank you Joe Sidek)
These are “tenugui” (Japanese facecloth used during the hot summer months) designed by RAAK aka Eirakuya established in 1615 in Kyoto. The patterns are dyed using the Kyo-Yuzen traditional method that is known to be highly resistant to fading.
After 13 hours and 11000 km away from Paris, I board my flight to Penang at KL International airport. Shortly after take-off, the cabin fills up with warm rays of sunlight, and from up above, I contemplate the dense Malaysian greenery blend with the hazy morning sky. It is a beautiful sight.
Penang is not the tiny place that I had pictured in my head on so many occasions before leaving, but a place of contradictions, that seems to be struggling with its future or the idea of it. On the one hand it is a sprawl of modern condominiums, malls, and intersecting freeways, and on the other, it boasts an exceptional historic area that is stamped with a World Heritage seal from UNESCO.
George Town, is a place locked in time where scale remains human and trishaws can take over motorized vehicles. The area is protected by conservation laws but is now looking to reach beyond heritage to explore its creative potential.
Locals say that the biggest difficulty for Penang is to retain its escaping youth that prefers to move to Kuala Lumpur for career opportunities. But George Town has enormous potential which has already been tested by a few entrepreneurs with a creative flair. What the city needs today is to multiply such initiatives in order to grow meaningfully.
Like many other Asian cities, rapid growth embodies threat as it intervenes without seeking a connection with the existing local culture. This creates schizophrenic environments with no clear identity nor vision. Establishing a meaningful connection between old and new is fundamental in this case.
Designers have a role to play in this process of reconnecting past with present and ultimately future. Similarly to a city like Kyoto that thrives on its heritage but also acts as a strong base for contemporary creativity, George Town Penang could be Malaysia’s answer to culture and creativity. It already has the historic infrastructure, all it needs now is the concerted effort of its people from various sectors, and a clear strategy for implementing new projects that manage to cross conventional boundaries while staying rooted in a local cultural context.
Whether you love them, hate them, or are one of them, this book is the funniest (and accurate) I have read on Parisians. Adapted and translated from the blog Stuff Parisians Like this French edition can now be found at practically every bookshop in the city of Paris. The author Olivier Magny (a Parisian himself) started writing the blog from his wine shop O Chateau while in the United States, and success quickly followed.
What makes Singapore’s cultural identity? Is it the distinctive character of the colourful and heritage-infused Chinese, Indian, and Malay neighbourhoods? The remnants of the British colonial era? Or perhaps the shiny mall environments filled with locals and expats? Singapore’s identity can only be experienced through a juxtaposition of such extreme contradictions.
I found the Singlish notepad by chance during a stroll in Chinatown, and it seemed to be the perfect souvenir to bring back home.
“Although often viewed negatively as an incorrect use of English, (Singlish) is one of the most authentic and genuine facets of Singapore. (It) is built upon the subtle nuances of the Singaporean personality and reflects daily life in the country.”
This notepad is one of a collection of designed objects called Singapore Souvenirs. The project was initiated by John Chan from triggerhappy, a design agency that develops bespoke solutions and products in unconventional ways.
“A Singapore souvenir serves as a meaningful memento for visitors, but could also act as a reflective medium for Singaporeans as we embrace our identity. Hence, this project raises design awareness through the local context, featuring souvenirs (some for sale, some for free) conceptualised by 8 local designers.”
See the entire collection on their Facebook page
The Singlish notepad and other Singapore Souvenirs are sold at the National Museum of Singapore and local retailers such as Hide & Seek (176 Telok Ayer Street).