DesignSingapore Council opened its first live exhibition at the National Design Centre (NDC) since the pandemic began in December with Visions of the Futures: Design in a Pandemic State of Mind.
Curated by Wendy Chua and Gustavo Maggio of multi-disciplinary design practice Forest & Whale, Visions of the Futures showcases how design might help us to thrive in dire times. The exhibition features seven projects by eight local young designers who have thoughtfully imagined new rituals of living in the new normal.
Displayed in plywood pedestals with undulating soliton waves inspired by the graphic charts tracking the Covid-19 waves, the seven projects highlight issues ranging from the ageing population and circular economy to cultural beliefs and the ritual of making.
Here are the eight designers to watch:
Industrial designer Sheryl Teng’s explores the relationship between materials, people and objects. Her project, titled the Looft Collection, investigates air, an abundant yet intangible source, as a supporting design element made visible through pneumatic textiles. The collection comprises wearable apparels and soft furnishings, which she dubs “clothing for people, furniture and space.”
Jasmine Quek designs through making. Her Phenomenal Wood collection is a contemporary take of the traditional tea wares in the Chinese Gongfu tea ceremony. She explored and exploited the unique characteristics of woods to create refined designs.
The Grained Tea Boat, for example, was crafted by eroding hemlock wood. The wood’s distinct variations in hardness yielded a sculpted surface as its softer wood rings were abraded. A tribute to traditional Chinese painting, her Inked Tray turns the discolouration once perceived as imperfection into a design feature.
A recent graduate of the Innovation Design Engineering programme at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College in London, Kevin Chiam redesigns everyday objects and tools to aid us in overcoming our conditioned reflexes, like touching our face often, ignoring fire drills and forgetting to wash our hand with soap.
Did you know that most casualties in building fires are a result of hesitation? This is not really surprising considering how many of us opt to ignore fire drills in our workplaces. Kevin’s Echo is a modular system that smartly taps into our psychological discomfort. The module features an inflatable balloon that rapidly expands as the fire alarm blares, illustrating the urgency of the alarm that instinctively motivate people to evacuate.
Did you know that we touch our face in average 23 times in an hour? For that, Kevin has designed the Odour Ring, a ring that twist open to reveal a core saturated with ammonium sulfide – a chemical component responsible for the unpleasant smell of rotten eggs and farts, among other things – which guarantees to stop you from touching your face. Meanwhile, Kevin’s Soap Tattoos (created in collaboration with designer Nacho Villanova) are soap-coated stickers aimed to motivate children to wash their hands.
Fashion industry is the second biggest contributor of landfills around the world – blame the fast fashion culture. UX and product designers Ng Luowei and Mervyn Chen aim to make the repair culture fun and attractive with Canvas, a repair kit for one of the most popular wardrobe staples, the canvas shoes.
The kit comprises tubs of liquid rubber paint and pre-cut stencils. The paint hardens upon contact with air, forming a rubber surface that seals hole in canvas shoes, repairing them and remaking them anew.
Product designer Poh Yun Ru seeks to create a positive impact on society by creating intuitive and inclusive products and solutions. Her Rewind project is a cognitive stimulation tool that aims to joyful provide mental agility and acuity exercises for seniors.
Developed in collaboration with THK Nursing Home @ Hougang and supported by NUS Design Incubation Centre, Rewind comprises a handheld device with a motion tracking tool that produces visual and audio feedback through a paired device like tablets or laptop. The exercises include simple daily activities with repetitive motions like ironing, cooking with a pan, and making tea, which were designed to unearth personal memories that users associates with sensorial interaction.
A graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven, Yingxuan Teo is a multidisciplinary designer who seeks to revive the joy of making what we use, where the autonomy of production is returned to the hands of the consumers. First exhibited during the Dutch Design Week in 2018, Yingxuan’s project, titled Mass Production of Happiness is a result of years-long investigation into sustainable soap-making process.
It is an apparatus comprises glass parts for manually extracting saponins from soap nuts and adding desired scents and ingredients for making one’s own soap. While admittedly not the most practical way to make soap, Mass Production of Happiness does offer a playful ritual that nudge us to re-examine our relationship with the product we use.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word lucky animal feng shui totems? Gaudy and gilded? Not anymore. A recent graduate of NUS, industrial designer Lin Qiuxia explores contemporary object rituals inspires by her Chinese cultural roots.
Quixia has updated the aesthetic of these artefacts to suit our contemporary taste. Her Ji Jian Wu collection comprises five feng shui artefacts made of white and gold lustre porcelain: Qi Lin (for good fortune), Jin Chan (for luck in wealth), Hu Lu (to contain negative energy), Pi Xiu (to guard wealth), and Ma (for immediacy), that would look at home in any contemporary setting.
This article was first published in Home and Decor.