The 1,380 people who pre-registered to attend Saturday Indesign Singapore 2019 knew it would be a day well spent. If you weren’t one of them, you missed filled-to-capacity Design Conversation panels on must-know issues; impressive installations and showcases by 25 product exhibitors; plenty of networking and hospitality; prizes and workshops aplenty; serious debating of the cultural and industry developments affecting practice; but also laughs and good times!
For us at Indesign Media Asia, the joy of the day is the connection it fosters among diverse members of Singapore’s design and architecture community – and with the design-interested public. The value of a shared conversation in a relaxed setting can’t be underestimated, and we were delighted to see impromptu chats arising after the Design Conversation panels.
Thank you for an inspiring day. We need many more days like this, bringing more people to the table, including developers, owners, operators, legislators, educators, journalists, environmentalists and enthusiasts.” – Maria Warner Wong, Design Conversations speaker and Design Director, WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design
The day is also about the opportunity for us all to position ourselves within discussions about themes and developments crucial to design practice – via the thought leadership of key figures from the design and architecture industry and leading product brands.
Sustainability, for example, emerged as a critical topic in a number of the panel sessions, as well as in the product installations of a number of the exhibitors, and such overlaps gave the day that much more meaning and impact.
A Neighbourhood Of Design
The day was focused on just two locations this year – the Tan Boon Liat Building (TBL, where 15 showrooms participated with special installations and activities) and our nearby Curated Space at Theatreworks, 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road (where ten brands showcased their finest). Free Saturday Indesign shuttle buses and a walking route between the locations made getting around a breeze.
Our Saturday Indesign tote bags, created with Silver Sponsor Louis Poulsen and featuring a cross-section of the innovative anti-glare three-shade light system designed by Poul Henningsen, were seen dotting the Robertson Quay area on the shoulders of attendees. We’ll definitely be using ours for years to come.
Special thanks to our on-day helpers: a team of dedicated School of Design students from Temasek Polytechnic. They made registration and navigation simple and stress-free. We couldn’t have done it without them!
Thanks also to all our event partners: Hotel Partner The Warehouse Hotel (a member of Design Hotels), Trophy Partner MINIWIZ, Prize Partner Wilkhahn, and Beverage Partners Jupiter 57 with Verum and SPRMRKT.
Exhibitors Were Set To Impress
At the Curated Space, Saturday Indesign 2019 Gold Sponsor Flokk Asia created an impressive display showcasing the sustainable supply chain at the heart of its products. Facts about its material use and sources revealed that, for example, Flokk used 559 tonnes of recycled plastic waste in its products in 2018. The brand hopes to make that 1,000 tonnes by 2022.
Three special collaboratively designed installations graced the rear exhibition space at Theatreworks. Congratulations go out to Kreon and studiogoto, Greenlam and Index Design, and The Cinnamon Room and Fraction. Look out for a dedicated article on all the collaboratively designed installations!
There were also impressive displays by Luxxbox with its new Luxxbox Brix acoustic partition system; Cosentino, who created an inviting bar setting with furniture incorporating its quartz surfaces; Kokaine, who created beautiful shadows with laser-cut fabric screens from CUT Direction; Laflor Living, whose vinyl flooring was showcased underfoot as well as on numerous other surfaces; P5 Studio, who presented the outcome of its recent AR_T chair reinvention project with Frag and eight Singapore-based design studios; and Tappeti Fine Hand-Crafted Rugs & Carpets, who created a comforting realm in which to sit down and contemplate design and fibre. Debate Trophy Partner and circular economy enterprise MINIWIZ also presented an array of its products.
Over at TBL, there was plenty of action from our exhibitors from breakfast to happy hour. There were workshops, snacks, scents and music at Commune; ikebana demos at Fritz Hansen; artist demos and talks at Emperor’s Attic and LivingwithArt Singapore; designer talks and block printing at ipse ipsa ipsum; paper elephant making at Vitra; special installations at Bode Fabrics & Furnishings and Hassan’s Carpets; a special talk about healthy sleep at Dormiente; a styling workshop at Arete Culture; a panel chat at The Beuro, and even more at Gamut, Jehan Gallery and Pomelo Home! And of course the #TBLshelfie contest ran all day – winners will be announced soon!
Journey East went big with no less than three collaboratively designed installations (with UPSTAIRS_, Wynk Collaborative and Feral) and Saturday Indesign’s very first silent auction! Read more in our dedicated article on all the collaboratively designed installations. Thanks to all our exhibitors for bringing such a great spirit to Saturday Indesign!
Someone asked me if Saturday Indesign was worth attending. My simple response was it was amazing how much I didn’t know. I absolutely LOVED how this was curated to such a refined level. Having just two ‘epicentres’ made it easier to attend the talks, and the contrast between the talks was brilliant.” – Steven Louie, Interior Designer
Design Knowledge To Fuel Your Creativity
The Saturday Indesign Design Conversations have been attracting big audiences since 2015 and this year was no exception. We’ll soon be posting a series of articles – one dedicated to each session – but here’s a brief overview.
The first session at the Curated Space examined wellness at two new workplaces at Paya Lebar Quarter. Speakers Tamagin Blake-Smith from HASSELL, Richard Paine from Lendlease, Penny Sloane from Siren Design and Peter Andrew from CBRE discussed how they went about designing for wellness and productivity, and singled out the need for leadership in the achievement of spaces of health, sustainability and connection. “Get off the fence!” This was a key message for designers and enterprises.
Session two explored the open-ended world of retail design and asked just who is driving consumer experience these days – and how. Speakers Billy Ip of Woods Bagot Hong Kong, Leong Hon Kit of Wynk Collaborative and Ken Yuktasevi of Parable Studio referred to the substance (rather than the image) of things and community making as core elements of brand engagement these days. “Retail is not dead, it’s been unleashed,” said Yuktasevi. “What are you going to do with the possibilities?”
Over at Journey East at TBL, Dennis Cheok of UPSTAIRS_, Jonathan Poh of Provolk Architects, Quck Zhong Yi of ASOLIDPLAN and Howard Wee of 7 Interior Architecture shared the novel ideas that can be employed in HDB flats and apartments here in Singapore. Says moderator Janice Seow, “They observed that clients today were more discerning and open to new ideas, and given the rise of compact homes, there was quite an emphasis from the speakers on the creative ways that the issue of small-space living could be addressed.”
At the Vitra showroom at TBL, the designpreneurship of Pan Yi Cheng of Produce and Type 0 Architects, Toh Yah Li of Light Collab, and Goy Zhenru of Goy Architects was put in the spotlight. “The conversation was very candid and they shared both the joy and sorrow of running their own design studios, what worked and what didn’t,” says moderator Asih Jenie. “For these three new-gen bosses, the key is finding the right people – collaborators, not just employees – and retaining them, or at least imparting something that they can use to cultivate their own design businesses, and together create a sustainable business ecosystem.”
Back at the Curated Space, sustainability was the key topic of the afternoon’s sessions. Discussing how we can design more sustainable hotels and hospitality experiences in the climate-change era, Maria Warner Wong of WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design, Dr Hossein Rezai of Web Structures, and Teo Su Seam of LTW Designworks talked about costing (implementation, operational and lifecycle), ‘conscious’ travel, embodied carbon and energy, the challenges presented by the world’s energy pricing system, and timelessness versus fashion. Again, the sense of a call to action resonated, despite some of the associated issues being beyond the control of designers.
The Saturday Indesign Debate was, once again, a powerful way to end the day. It ended in a tie this year, with the audience clearly as challenged by the topic as our debaters! Hunn Wai of Lanzavecchia + Wai, Josh Comaroff of Lekker Architects, Razvan Ghilic-Micu of HASSELL, and Tan Szue Hann of MINIWIZ Singapore gave it their all to argue whether designers are lazy when it comes to sustainability.
Commentator Sarah Ishioka of Desire Lines critiqued their arguments thoroughly and pushed all designers in the debate team and the audience to think not as individual actors, but as entities with agency to intervene in the systems at play in the industry. “How can we bring our whole selves to the table to address these issues?” she asked. Stay tuned for our full report!
It was the day’s final wake-up call on the big issues that designers must face today. Throughout Saturday Indesign 2019, the sense that today’s new playing fields and realities require new approaches from designers and architects was tangible – and even confronting at times.
Do we want to contribute positively to addressing immense challenges? Then let’s face the music of how times have changed and take leadership to push for best practice. And let’s keep the conversation going!
Thanks to all involved in making Saturday Indesign Singapore 2019 such an impactful, enjoyable and memorable day!
Photography by Vernon Wong unless otherwise stated
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