Emerging Singaporean designers showcased in ‘Visions of the Future’
DesignSingapore Council presents a curated showcase of seven designs by emerging Singapore designers, presented online and at the National Design Centre from December 10 to January 7
DesignSingapore Council’s Visions of the Future imagines future trends in the wake of the pandemic, through seven designs that look at the improvement of health and wellbeing through rituals and practices, sustainable processes, new materials and safety through design.
The participating designers were selected through an open call held by the DesignSingapore Council in late 2019 and were mentored throughout the process by Wendy Chua and Gustavo Maggio, founders of the multi-disciplinary design practice Forest & Whale.
Design in a Pandemic State of Mind
As cities begin a slow return to some semblance of normality and the initial alarm to the public health crisis subsides, people begin to grapple with what it means to live in a pandemic state of mind. The effects of quarantine fatigue and isolation linger; we see the repercussions in the cognitive decline of seniors with dementia and the rise in mental health cases of anxiety and depression.
How might design help us to thrive despite the challenges of the moment and reimagine hope in such dire times?
From memory stimulation therapy using new technologies to design probes that aid us in overcoming conditioned reflexes – such as touching our face mask unconsciously – the exhibition highlights the significance of design in safeguarding our health and wellbeing.
Beyond the immediate needs of the crisis, it explores the intangible but deeply rooted cultural beliefs that anchor one in a future filled with uncertainties. Through new interpretations of rituals of repair and mindfulness, design plays a pivotal role in building financial, mental and emotional resilience.
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The seven works presented in Vision of the Future illuminate the opportunities in the crisis by imagining new rituals of living in the new normal. Through innovations in craft, technology and materials, the designers illustrate a hopeful future – better by design – despite the pandemic.
“It is a joy to see our young designers’ in-depth design research and creative responses to the pressing concerns of today. From transforming the act of soapmaking into a meditative ritual to empowering the elderly to hold onto their fading memories, these young designers provide a fresh perspective to everyday issues – and those brought anew in the current climate – that anyone can appreciate.
We are most excited to present this intimate show to the world, both at the Singapore Design Centre and on a digital platform for all to enjoy.” – Mark Wee, Executive Director, DesignSingapore Council.
‘Mass Production of Happiness’ by Yingxuan Teo
‘Mass Production of Happiness’ by Yingxuan Teo is a project which envisions a near future where plastic packaging is eliminated from the cosmetics industry, with single-use plastic being replaced by entirely sustainable ‘make your own’ systems.
Yingxuan Teo has designed a soap-making device which can be incorporated into an everyday routine. The device uses natural ingredients, for example the Aloe Vera plant, therefore avoiding the harsh chemicals that are often used in everyday soap products. The design is a call for more sustainable practices in our daily sanitising procedures due to the public health crisis.
‘Rewind’ by Poh Yun Ru
‘Rewind’ by Poh Yun Ru is a cognitive stimulation therapy tool for people with dementia – who rely heavily on repetition in everyday life via sounds, smells and sights in order to retain memory. A motion-tracking tool produces visual and audio feedback through a paired device and asks the user to relate personal memories which they associate with the images and sounds that appear on the screen.
Due to their vulnerabilities to the coronavirus, seniors are encouraged to stay at home, even to a state of near isolation with little physical contact with their families. The lack of suitable activities while being confined at home also contributes to the rapid deterioration of their cognitive faculties. Poh Yun Ru has designed these new activities to engage the mental agility and acuity in response to this.
‘Pneumatics Touch’ by Sheryl Teng
Taking an experimental approach to pneumatics (a branch of engineering that makes use of pressurised air), Sheryl Teng seeks to investigate how air can “come to life” in the form of a pneumatic textile, which responds to the needs of the user and the environment.
Using a battery-operated handheld heat sealer and pleated fabric, Teng produced an inflatable, stretchy resilient material made up of multiple compact air pockets that can be used for a variety of purposes. The resulting series of clothing, objects and protective cases that Teng created serves to reimagine the system and application of pneumatic objects, utilising its thermal insulating properties. The innovative series comprises thermal wear, a laptop case, a space partition and applications to a wingback chair and lamp.
‘Ji Jian Wu: A belief, A blessing’ by Lin Qiuxia
Lin Qiuxia presents contemporary artefacts of belief as vessels for hope under the invisible threat of the coronavirus.
Originated from the ancient divination rituals of Chinese geomancy, each object by Lin Qiuxia is designed to maintain the Feng Shui meaning associated with its traditional counterpart. Like amulets, these contemporary artefacts are vessels that carry one’s hopes and wishes to bring forth good fortune and ward off ill health, assuaging fears and easing anxieties
‘Canvas’ by Ng Luowei & Mervyn Chen
‘Canvas’ offers a visionary approach to the ‘make do and mend’ culture which fell out of fashion as goods became cheaper. Designers Ng Luowei and Mervyn Chen have repurposed quick-drying liquid rubber paint to become a material that can be used to restore and repair worn-out shoes in creative patterns.
Shoe repair is democratised, and unique works emerge in every attempt to breathe new life into old favourites, thereby reducing the number of shoes that are unnecessarily thrown away each year. The work recalls old repairing cultures in the frugality of the impending economic recession due to the pandemic.
Design Probes by Kevin Chiam
Our conditioned reflexes and unconscious behaviours, such as our tendency to touch our face mask, can place us in harm’s way. Through design probes that nudge behavioural change, Kevin Chiam innovates design solutions to overcome our worst inclinations and safeguard our health and wellbeing.
Soap Stickers – created to bring delight to children in the repetitive sanitising process of “the new normal” – dissolve upon contact with water to reveal animal prints, while ‘Echo’ is a response to building fire fatalities of those dismissing emergencies as false alarms; it is a fire alarm system that uses an imminent bursting balloon to motivate occupant evacuation.
‘Phenomenal Wood’ y Jasmine Quek
The ‘Chun’ collection by Jasmine Quek – part of her wider ‘Phenomenal Wood’ project – is a modern reinterpretation of traditional teaware that is used in the Chinese GongFu tea ceremony.
The contemporary tea set, that explores new interpretation of familiar materials, brings a ritual of mindfulness into our homes in times of quarantine fatigue.
‘Grained Tea Boat’ was created from a block of hemlock wood that was sandblasted to naturally remove its softer, more water-absorbent earlywood. This formed gaps between the harder latewood that remains undisturbed to create naturally sculpted slats that allows the tea to seep through during the ritual of rinsing the tea leaves and warming the tea pot.
‘Inked Tray’ adorns a stain akin to traditional Chinese painting. By simply rubbing steel wool across the surface of vinegar-coated wood, a chemical reaction that permanently alters wood’s colour along the grains as the vinegar dries off, forming a natural pattern that the guest can appreciate during the tea ritual.
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