Singapore objects to love

Singapore objects to love
The National Heritage Board's retail arm, Museum Label, has made 40 new lifestyle items to be sold in store, including the one at National Museum. Life! takes a look at some of these new items.

When you need a supermarket trolley, but are out of $1 coins, Jonathan Yuen's Bountiful gold keychain will come in handy.

The local designer's nifty coin-shaped key ring fits in the mechanism that keeps trolleys chained together, making it a must-have in any self-respecting Singaporean auntie's handbag.

It should come as no surprise, given its nod towards the mundane, quirky aspects of life in Singapore, that Yuen's clever creation is part of a collection called Everyday Objects, produced by the National Heritage Board and sold at some of its museums.

And going by the wares being sold at museums here these days, a mini hipster revolution is underway in the once staid sector of cultural institutions' giftshops (postcards, posters and catalogues, anyone?).

Launched earlier this week, the Everyday Objects collection features works by 40 Singapore talents, who each made one item. The series is part of Museum Label, the heritage board's three-year-old retail arm, and was a collaboration with indie design studio Farm.

The designers took creative licence with eight everyday items: T-shirt, watch, charm, bag, plush toy, vase, box and an accessory.

For instance, the Touch-Me-Not T-shirt by design studio Bravo Company's creative director Edwin Tan sports "spikes" that are supposed to repel people - perfect for a crowded train ride.

The Calico Stray Cat plush toy, by Singaporean artist and illustrator Soh Ee Shaun, is an homage to his first stray cat, which has a personality he likens to Singaporeans - clean, neat and conservative.

This is the first time that an open call was put out by Farm to members of the public for such a project. After the call, sent out two years ago, about 100 entries were received and eight eventually chosen.

Of the 40 objects, 14 are available for sale at the National Museum of Singapore, the Asian Civilisations Museum and Farm's online store. Others will be produced later if there is enough demand. Prices range from $12 for a keychain to $45 for a watch.

Farm's director Selwyn Low, who co-curated the works with award- winning designer Hans Tan, says he is constantly surprised that there is a vibrant pool of designers who have interesting ideas about the Singapore identity.

Previously, Farm had collaborated with the heritage board and Singapore Souvenirs, a collective of local designers, to come up with the Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS) collections in 2012 and a Made For Sam project with the Singapore Art Museum in 2010.

Unconventional items from those collections include Superstition Dice, etched with colloquial Singaporean terms such as "Huat ah!", and a National Day Tote Bag bearing a print of the Aug 9 page from a retro tear-away calendar.

"Over time, the items which the designers come up with tend to have more local stories behind them," says Mr Low, 35. "It reflects the climate of things. There's a conversation about our Singaporean identity and how we grow up."

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