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.”
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).
A week in Singapore was much too short to cover the variety of retail shops and neighborhoods in the city. I regret not having seen Books Actually as it was slightly out of the way, and places like the Substation, and Gallery 2902. Hopefully another time.
Why most guides and official websites insist on promoting shopping malls on Orchard Road is a mystery to me, as they are totally generic and don’t have any local flavor. Haji Lane, Arab Street, Serangoon Road, Club Street, and Ann Siang Hill were a million times more interesting and affordable. Local favourites are United Label and SaladShop on Haji Lane, K-Ki near Club Street, and Mustafa Centre in Little India…
© Daniel Håkansson for Readymade Projects
New York-based industrial designer Stephen Burks has been collaborating closely with artisans and crafts people from Senegal, South Africa, Peru, and India. His work merges high-end design work with local traditions, highlighting the positive side-effects of globalisation – to impact more meaningfully as opposed to destructively vis-a-vis local cultures. The processes of making things are, in this context, turned into a celebration of traditional cultures and savoir-faire that are often waiting to be discovered in other parts of the world.
Man Made is Burks first solo exhibition in New York and will take place at the Studio Museum in Harlem from March 31 to June 26 2011. The exhibition will unfold as a workshop involving local weavers and artisans. Photographic and video installations of Burks’ travels will also be showcased alongside drawings and prototypes.
© Michael Marriott
Happiness for Daily Life is a beautiful regeneration project led by four UK designers in collaboration with the local community in Gongju, South Korea. The project was established in the framework of a residency programme with the National University of Cultural Heritage (NUCH) in partnership with the British Council. Continue reading on INDIGO
Cities x Design is one of the chapters in Design for Change, a book that looks at design beyond the purely economic dimension, at the crossroads between technological innovations and social, political and ecological issues.
Edited by Léa Gauthier. 2011
Texts by Caroline Naphegyi, Valérie Guillaume, Joe Colombo, Marie-Ange Brayer, Emanuele Quinz, Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, Andrea Branzi, François Roche, Lars von Trier, François Jégou, Jérôme Saltet, Sali Sasaki, Alok b. Nandi, John Sorrell, Le hub-agence, Osamu Sudoh, Jean-Charles Massera, Anthony Elliot, John Urry.
Graphic design: Jean Michel Diaz.
400 pages (color & b/w ill.)
Ahead of my upcoming Design DNA: Paris Workshop at Parsons, I browse around the old streets of central Paris (1st) and I am impressed by the visual marvels that I encounter. One of my favourites is the Kitsuné fashion/music store Parisien. So contemporary and yet so true to the city’s traditional roots.
© Voyageurs du monde
Since 1979, Voyageurs du Monde (Travelers of the World) has been offering tourism experiences of another kind. It is a travel agency that believes in tourism for peace, cultural exchanges and mutual understanding. Their flagship building is split into 3 floors that are each dedicated to a region of the world and where “travel counselors” from various continents answer their customers’ most detailed requests. Those can range from a scooter ride in Jerusalem, a spiritual stay at the foot of the Himalayas, to a private home rental in a historic setting in Johannesburg. Continue reading on INDIGO
© Japan Brand
Since the end-of-year holiday festivities, I have been thinking of writing a little blog post about cookware design and its relationship to food and local identity. After all, isn’t cookware design one of the most interesting reflections of people’s culture and their everyday life habits?
My interest in cookware design lies in the evolution of the object’s form and function. It is conceived around specific cultural traditions and needs which evolve as time passes. While culinary traditions are maintained, fusion is a term that is now commonly found in contemporary cuisine. As people of the world open up to other cultures, cookware designs are also taking new shapes. Continue reading on INDIGO
The creative mix of old and new can positively impact the shaping of local culture, the development of the tourism industry, and generate possibilities for environmental sustainability in many countries. In the Asian context, this approach seems particularly fit: the region is infused with traditional aesthetics, has a deep interest in its own cultural heritage, and is also driven by technology and innovation. By strategically merging local traditions and design, a number of positive transformations are already taking place. This paper reflects on this current movement through examples taken from South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and China. Within this context, contemporary objects and places are showcased as tangible outcomes of a synthesis between old and new practices. They also raise questions on the possible difficulties related to the processes of transformation that seek to seamlessly bind past and present times in an effort to define local culture.