As the nation commemorates its 55th birthday, we also celebrate the various local talents who continue to sculpt and change Singapore’s arts, design and culture terrain. In this issue, we cast the spotlight on a new breed of Singapore creatives, from artists and sculptors to furniture makers and designers, who bring with them a fresh crop of ideas and perspectives.
TIFFANY LOY, textile designer and weaver
The art of weaving is experiencing a contemporary revival – and Tiffany Loy is one to watch in this field. The industrial designer-turned-weaver took up textile weaving at Kawashima Textile School in Kyoto and first set up her studio in 2014. She melds her knowledge of product design with textile making to create 3-D objects and spaces, while also focusing on material structure at a micro level. To date, she has worked with the likes of The Rug Makers, Uniqlo (for an installation) and Alma Leather and has won the Design Anthology Award (Textiles). A recent graduate of the Royal College of Art, she will be exploring and creating bespoke textiles for interior companies.
Website: www.tiffanyloy.com Instagram: @tffnyly
LIEW YU HUA, furniture designer and maker
A lifelong appreciation of trees led to Liew Yu Hua taking a leap of faith to embark on a furniture-making course in the UK. The wood she works with – from the grain to the growth of wood rings and knots – is at the crux of her pieces, which are shaped by hand and eye rather than with computer-aided drawings. She also seeks inspiration from the people whose stories inspire her and forms found in nature. The highlight of her woodworking journey is the Songjun Cabinet, a personal project made with wood that was gifted by her mentor. What’s next in the pipeline? She hopes to launch a sculptural furniture collection next year that explores a more fluid and organic style.
Website: www.secretlifeoftrees.com. Instagram: @secretlifeoftrees_
“THE FORMS FOUND IN NATURE REPRESENT THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM. THE CONCEPT OF FREEDOM IN DESIGN, WITHOUT THE MANY RESTRICTIONS I SEE IN MASS-PRODUCED FURNITURE, IS CENTRAL TO MY WORK.”
– LIEW YU HUA, FURNITURE-DESIGNER MAKER
HOWIE KIM, freelance visual artist
It’s easy to be drawn to visual artist Howie Kim’s arresting works, which he describes with adjectives like surreal, whimsical, strange and cute. Delving into Internet culture for inspiration, from memes and viral videos to selfies, he works across various mediums, including digital illustrations, animations, photo manipulations, paintings, and, most recently, augmented reality filters. It has only been about four years since Howie, who has a fine arts bachelor’s degree from Lasalle College of the Arts, stepped into the industry but the visual artist boasts a clientele of brands, including DBS Singapore, Apple, Tiger Beer, IWC Schaffhausen and local musician Gentle Bones.
Website: www.howiekim.com Instagram: @howie759
CELINE NG, industrial designer
From working with brands to create exhibition booths, installations and digital showcases to launching its own furniture collection, Fraction Design Studio has done it all. It is headed by Celine Ng, who set it up after being invited to brainstorm creative concepts by Xtra Designs and Swedish flooring company Bolon for SingaPlural in 2016. The studio, which has exhibited on international platforms like Milan Design Week, received the Golden Pin Design Mark in 2019. It’s full steam ahead for Celine, who will be partnering Sevenvine Design and Office Planner to create hybrid office pieces enhanced with technology and height adjustability.
Website: www.fraction.sg. Instagram: @fractionsg
KARYN LIM, industrial designer
Minimalistic aesthetics that allow a product’s concept to shine through characterise the work of Karyn Lim, who collaborates with brands to conceptualise and develop products and accessories. Her love for contemporary design started during an exchange programme in Paris. Since then, she has showcased her works at Milan Design Week and designed for brands like La Prairie, Zanotta and Samsung, as well as worked alongside prominent designers Sabine Marcelis and Erwan Bouroullec. The soon-to-be graduate of Switzerland’s Lausanne University of Art and Design (ECAL), where she’s been studying luxury design and craftsmanship, is looking forward to working with local and international brands, manufacturers and artisans.
Website: www.karynlim.com Instagram: @ karyn.lim
“I BELIEVE IN DESIGNING WITH CONTEXT IN MIND. I’M INQUISITIVE BY NATURE AND LIKE TO UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS WORK AND ARE MADE, THE PHILOSOPHY AND ORIGINS OF THE BRANDS, AND WHO THE PRODUCT IS FOR.”
– KARYN LIM, INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER
ZULKHAIRI ZULKIFLEE, artist-curator
An artist-curator and educator, Zulkhairi’s interest lies in lens-based arts, which entail digital photography and materials like archived or appropriated images. The topics he explores are often centred around identity, specifically Malayness and masculinity, and how they are informed by the dynamics and asymmetry of multiculturalism and Eurocentrism. His work has earned him awards like Art Outreach Singapore’s IMPART Award (Curator). He was also the recipient of the 2019 Objectifs Curator Open Call. Most recently, Zulkhairi conceptualised his showcase-exhibition How to Desire Differently, which runs till Aug 7 this year at Lim Hak Tai Gallery.
MORGAN, LINCOLN AND RYAN YEO, bespoke carpentry
As a homage to their late father Roger, who ran system furniture company JR&P Industries, brothers Morgan, Lincoln and Ryan Yeo rebranded the company to Roger&Sons after taking over the reins of the family business. Exposed to the craft at a young age, they often helped out in the workshop during their schooldays, and function before form is at the heart of their design philosophy. This, along with showcasing the beauty of wood and immaculate detailing, has culminated in exceptionally crafted bespoke furniture. Their focus right now is on the Local Tree Project, an ethical furniture initiative that salvages trees felled for urban development. In fact, they’ve worked with Mandai Park Development and Tan Tock Seng Hospital to create public furniture made from fallen trees.
Website: www.rogerandsons.sg Instagram: @rogerandsons
“WHEN WE GREW UP, IF SOMETHING WAS BROKEN, WE HAD TO FIX IT OURSELVES. FROM THAT AGE, OUR LOVE FOR BUILDING THINGS WITH OUR HANDS STARTED TO GROW.”
– MORGAN, LINCOLN AND RYAN YEO OF ROGER&SONS
HAFIIZ KARIM, artist and digital art director
Better known by his moniker The Next Most Famous Artist, Hafiiz Karim is a digital art director by day and an artist by night. He is best known for his photo manipulation of historical art figures placed in a present-day, often Singaporean context. Think Hans Gude’s Fishing with a Harpoon with Marina Bay Sands in the background. The series started when he was pursuing a master in Asian art histories at LaSalle College of the Arts, which exposed him to various artworks. He was then intrigued by and experimented with the juxtaposition of classical Western figures and Singapore’s modern setting. The creative whizz, who has garnered a sizeable following on social media and also created a series for Visit Singapore, continues to make and sell art and prints that respond to current events.
Website: www thenextmostfamousartist.com. Instagram: @ thenextmostfamousartist
“FOR ME, ART IS ABOUT GIVING VIEWERS SOMETHING THEY CAN CONNECT WITH THROUGH THEIR MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES, AND INVITING THEM TO ADD TO THE CONVERSATION.”
- HAFIIZ KARIM, ARTIST AND DIGITAL ART DIRECTOR
ELIZABETH GAN, potter
Potter and founder of ceramic studio School of Clay Arts, which she started in 2016, Elizabeth cites the Taoist concept of wu wei (or non-action) as her inspiration. Effortlessness is a natural result of the deep practice of her craft. At her studio, she hosts workshops and pottery classes. She also has a retail arm that produces commercial ceramic ware. Spot these at Michelin-starred restaurants Meta and Cloudstreet, as well as at clothing brands Our Second Nature, Apartment Coffee and furniture company Dreams. Together with her husband, she recently launched The Primary Occurrent, an online retail business that focuses on home goods.
Website: www.schoolofclayarts.com Instagram: @schoolofclayarts
TAN YANG ER, multidisciplinary artist and set designer
Not having formal art training hasn’t stopped self-taught Yang Er from building an impressive resume that ranges from installation to set design and art directing. For starters, her works have gained international recognition. She was crowned Best Visual Art Director at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in Korea for her work on the set of The Sam Willows’ Keep Me Jealous music video. Apart from working with heavyweights like Singapore Airlines, Sony Music and Guerlain under her practice Yangermeister Studios, she also scored a gig as a production designer for the TV series Mixed Signals. You’ll want to keep an eye out for more of her public art installations like her previous interactive ASMR Wonderland creation on Sentosa.
Website: www.yangermeister.com Instagram: @yangermeister_
text MICHELLE LEE