Designed in Singapore and made in Japan by ceramic company Kihara Inc., the Singapore Icons Studio Project sets out to identify new symbols for Singapore.
Working with five Singapore-based studios, including ampulets, Relay Room, Chang Shian Wei, Desinere and Quiet Studio, Democratic Society have produced five sets of flatware each comprised of a big plate, a small plates and a chopstick rest.
From sky cranes to blocks of flats built in Singapore in the 1930s, the collections feature each designer’s personal interpretation of a ‘Singapore icon’.
Democratic Society explain, ”We hope to create souvenirs or omiyage that documents our contemporary Asian beliefs, lifestyles and cultures.”
Days of Lightning by ampulets: In many ways, the speed, illumination and force of lightning make it an apt expression for Singapore’s much admired progress in the last 50 years. It has been a a progress marked by an assertive and rapid pace of change, illuminated by the inspired efforts of its people, and led by a charged focus.
With all this in mind, we created a chopstick rest with the Chinese character for lightning (電 a combination of the words for rain and electricity), incorporating the symbol to express its immediacy and energy, and making its meaning intuitive and universally understood. For the 10.8cm plate, we imagined a place where the energies of the past 50 years are stored, the clouds that hold an incredibly beautiful and powerful tropical lightning storm. For the 15cm plate, we created a pattern of crisscrossing lines, an abstraction of merged lightning symbols upon closer inspection but also an illusion of cracks across the plate.
National Bird of Singapore by Relay Room: The common sky crane (also known as cranus metallia) is often seen foraging in urban landscapes. It is known to stand still for long periods of time, and is able to lift weights far beyond its own mass.
HDB by Chang Shian Wei: The Public Housing of Singapore, Housing Development Board (HDB) flats were chosen as a starting point when Chang Shian Wei was exploring the idea of creating a new Singapore “icon’. HDB flats came into existence in the 1930s as a measure to solve acute housing shortage. Designs of the flats have evolved over the years and now more than 80% of the population lives in one. Being representative of our times, it seems ideal to use the visual identities of HDB flats as motifs for the ceramic ware. The motifs are abstracted from photographic images and depict three different exterior views: the common corridors, a facade of kitchen windows and a close-up of a room at night. Potted plants, which is a common sight in our living spaces, are added in each piece to give a sense of life.
Tembusu by Desinere: Famous for its distinctive sweeping low branch, the majestic Tembusu tree that resides in the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a designated Heritage Tree in Singapore and is believed to have existed before the gardens were first laid out in 1859.
Standing before this treasured relic of Singapore, one cannot help but stare in awe of its grandeur and in wonderment of the many stories that it has seen through the years and will continue to do so for the many years to come in our little island country.
The Dancing Joachim by Quiet Studio: Singapore’s national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, was lovingly named after the lady who successfully bred such a hybrid, Agnes Joaquim. The most distinctive part of the actual flower flutters like a lovely purple dress. Perhaps worn by a certain Miss Joaquim? A tribute to the memory of not only the flower that is ours but of the lady that made this dancing flower a reality.