Singapore’s renowned design son and founder of Air Division, Nathan Yong spreads his designer wings and discusses what inspires and consumes him outside the realms of work. See his story in Habitus 05, out now.
After achieving commercial success with his furniture and manufacturing company, Air Division, industrial designer-turned-furniture designer, Nathan Yong, has recently left the company and now finds the time to enjoy his own personal space and tackle new design challenges.
In his current career operating multi-disciplinary design consultancy working across industrial, graphic and interior architectural fields, Nathan is working on a number of international design projects. Yet, it is his earlier beginnings, growing up in a poorer environment, where his family collected items off the beach, that has shaped his design philosophy and led to eclectic interests, such as collecting vintage items that were produced to last.
“I like to keep old objects. Not that I romanticise it but, rather old things are designed and built to last, they are efficient, they have more design and social integrity, items that are designed to provide solutions,” Nathan says.
This encompasses a penchant for collecting toys, mostly play mobiles, 1960s appliances including an 8mm camera and farming and woodworking tools.
“I collect…play mobiles for their childlike form, simple design and engineering, camera for its hand-held ergonomics, balance in weight distribution and cool ray gun looks! Not to mention most of it’s in stainless steel and black leather cladding,” he says.
Nathan says the old tools serve as a reminder of how they were used in relation to hands and movement; all-important facets he can truly appreciate as a designer.
The Singapore resident credits his single speed bike with getting him out and about and he spruiks the humble invention as being something that remains relevant in today’s world. “It is funny that the things I like at home are the things that get me out of the house,” he says.
Outside of home, Japan has captured his interest for its balance of nature with the commercial, craft and technology, religion and decadence. “It is important for me to soak up these energies and be refreshed every now and then,” Nathan says.
“This sounds like a cliché, but the fact is everything inspires me; a sculpture, an image, nature, technology, materials, memories and human behavior.”
Nathan Yong Design