by Almas SadiqueJul 28, 2022
September 2022 saw the return of Singapore Design Week after two years of the pandemic-induced lull. A successful run of products, installations, and innovations pulled designers and creative enthusiasts from across the globe to the city’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Within this design week's popular furniture fair FIND – Design Fair Asia, a new initiative garnered much praise and footfall for putting the spotlight on rising South Asian design talents who are introducing the industry to new materiality, techniques, and processes. Titled EMERGE @ FIND, the event was pegged on the theme of materiality, and it converged over 50 creatives and design practices from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam to present their works. Comprising furniture, lighting, sculptures, textile, and everyday objects, some of the works reflected an inventive reimagining of trends, while others saw unique applications of natural materials and artisanal techniques in the hope to preserve local craft and heritage. The design event’s curation was helmed by Suzy Annetta, founding editor-in-chief of Design Anthology – a publication that celebrates designers from Asia Pacific.
Combing through the sea of talent, STIR brings to you 10 distinguished works and their creators from EMERGE @ FIND that caught our eye.
1. Log Bench by Alvin Tjitrowirjo
The industrial-looking Log Bench by Indonesian product designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo is in reality a one-off piece crafted by local artisans using natural rattan. The indigenously produced seating installation embodies Tjitrowirjo’s idea of connecting modern architecture with natural surroundings, and creating forms that foster interactions while invoking within the user’s mind, a respect for nature and local culture.
2. SL Screen by Stephanie and David Getty
Co-founders of Jakarta-based practice Surrounding Objects, Stephanie and David Getty collaborated with Indonesian master weavers to create the natural rattan screens that have been handwoven into white oak frames. The beautifully crafted screens feature a simple assembly with hand-fitted hooks, and patterns in natural fibre which as per the designers, is a nod to the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930 where Sigurd Lewerentz created simple geometric wallpapers to be shown in ‘single-family houses’.
3. Ketupat Pouf by Wei Ming Tan
For this furniture piece, Malaysia-based Ming Tan sought his material inspiration in the remote reaches of rainforest Sarawak. The verdant landscape, which thrives in the growth of a creeping vine called rattan, continues to pull Penans from nearby villages who indigenously process the vines to create everyday essentials. Composed of locally treated rattan and wicker, Ming Tan’s Ketupat Pouf is the product of his collaboration with the artisans of Long Kawi, a village residing in Sarawak’s Middle Baram region.
4. Maya Stand birdhouse by Gabby Lichauco
Filipino designer, curator and founder of multidisciplinary design practice Openstudio presented an inventive bird nest during EMERGE @ FIND. Seeking inspiration from nature, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, Lichauco created the basket-like nest forms using handwoven wicker, and a sleek steel frame to nestle the units. Adaptable and versatile, the trendy pieces could also be made with single units to suit small space requirements.
5. Contrapunto collection by Stanley Ruiz
Manila-based designer and founder of Estudio Ruiz, Stanley Ruiz’s practice explores the commonplace to bring about new meaning and interpretation to object archetypes. For his Contrapunto collection which constitutes floor lamps and ceiling pendants, the designer uses pellets extracted from an invasive indigenous plant called Bakong which were then melted and injected into metal moulds to produce the objects. To the coldness of the injection moulded component, Ruiz added the warmth of wood serving as structural supports for the pieces: the very idea that helped established the name of the collection, Contrapunto (or counterpoint).
6. Ethereal Chair by David Lee
Designed to look like chairs while their conception was about embodying the qualities of an art sculpture, David Lee of Singapore-based I Am Not David Lee Studio beautifully balances this contradiction in his presentation. The frosted acrylic pieces are abstract, fragile, and not meant to be functional. However, Lee’s idea has been to question whether function alone justifies an object as ‘design’ or does the reflection that went into creating the object also qualify it as design.
7. The Weaverly Way Collection by Tiffany Loy
The sculptural textile piece by Singaporean artist and industrial designer Tiffany Loy reflects the fragility of our understanding of things around us. Loy created the textile art in collaboration with the Gainsborough silk weaving company using silk and cotton waffle weave on a digital jacquard loom. The artist employs a weaver’s approach to sculpture that explores fundamental relationships between elements of materiality such as colour, structure, and tension.
8. Floor and Pendant Lamp by Saruta 'Pin' Kiatparkpoom
Raised in an environment where steel and its processes composed an everyday scenery, Bangkok-based Kiatparkpoom later chose a creative career where she turned worthless steel debris into everyday objects. The Thai artist and designer presented at EMERGE a collection of lamps and mirrors that used steel and its material finesse to create geometrically detailed forms. For Kiatparkpoom, the octagon lamps represent the light of wisdom, whereas the mirrors symbolise truth.
9. Woven panel by Shoson Thatawakorn & Jarupatcha Achavasmit
Bangkok-based designers Thatawakorn and Achavasmit presented woven panels made of banyan tree roots and hand-knotted copper wire. As the founders of Ausara Surface & Textile, a boutique company established in 2013, the duo works with craftsmen and artisans of different backgrounds to create textiles and wall coverings. The combination of a natural material like bamboo with industrially produced copper wire fosters the designers’ vision of enriching old craft traditions with new materials and techniques.
10. Ca Rang stool by Phuong Dao
Ho Chi Minh City-based furniture designer Phuong Dao brought to the fore a set of sturdy stools and coffee tables made out of a naturally compressed composite of newspaper waste, cardboard, and coffee grounds. The handmade objects have been inspired by a kind of traditional Vietnamese stove around which families gather to eat, socialise, and share stories. With this collection, Dao advocates the need for sustainable practices in design, especially at a time when industrialisation in product design is impacting the environment, and Vietnam for that matter is one of the sixth most vulnerable countries affected by climate change.