‘There is no such thing as “Asian design”,’ says Ernie Koh, chairman of International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS), and also founder of successful Singaporean furniture brand Koda. ‘There is Chinese design, there is Thai design, but there isn’t a signature Asian aesthetic. That’s what Singapore is here for.’ With cultural influences flooding in from all over, Koh feels it is Singapore’s moment to create a powerful design trait that can be branded Asian.
All around the halls of IFFS at the Singapore Expo, SingaPlural at the F1 Pit Building, and many other locations around the city (including our very own Wallpaper* Handmade Classics at Gillman Barracks), you could feel a growing aura of design devotion during Singapore Design Week. Building up over the years, Singapore’s cultural heart is beating stronger that ever, and for the rest of the continent it seems. The design week even has its own furniture award that has been around since 1993, acting a platform for upcoming designers.
At IFFS, all the action took place around Singaporean design veteran Nathan Yong’s central pavilion. Titled ‘The White House’, the architectural structure was made up of hanging white ribbons and housed designs centred on the theme of whiteness and purity. Yong also celebrated multiple new launches at the fair, including a collaboration with Ipse Ipsa Ipsum. The shapely new range puts a contemporary spin on classic Indian craftsmanship of marble and metal. Showing for the second time at the fair, Journey East also launched new editions in its vibrant ‘PLAYplay’ collection by Italian-Singaporean design duo Lanzavecchia and Wai.
Elsewhere at the fair, international players also had a moment in the Asian spotlight; an exhibition titled ‘The Italian Hospitality’ curated by Giulio Cappelini acted as lounging space peppered with Italian design, classic through to contemporary.
New brand Ariake also showed the incredible potential of Singapore’s relationship with other design countries, marrying Japanese manufacturers with the likes of Swedish designer Staffan Holm and Norwegian designer Anderssen & Voll for an inaugural collection that includes side boards, table and chairs, led under the direction of Singaporean creative Gabrial Tan.
Heading back into the city, SingaPlural put on a show of installations and pop-ups offering up Singapore’s more experimental and artful side. Here Singaporean-based, Central Saint Martins graduate Olivia Lee launched her ‘Athena’ collection that nods to powerful feminine nature, while creative practice Dazingfeelsgood showcased a two-fold installation inspired by Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, and brutalism.