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Find - Design Fair Asia 2022: Southeast Asia's best designers talk sustainability, locality and style for compact housing in Singapore

Find - Design Fair Asia 2022: Southeast Asia's best designers talk sustainability, locality and style for compact housing in Singapore

Part of Singapore Design Week, Find – Design Fair Asia is a new immersive furniture, interiors and design event this year gathering a curated selection of international independent designers, galleries, and global brands.

Happening Sept 22 to 24, 2022 at Marina Bay Sands Exhibition Centre, the three day affair features experiences across six key pillars. They include cultural showcases Country Pavilions, Italian Design Futures Capsule, a celebration of Italy’s creativity, craftsmanship and design thinking, and EMERGE @ Find, which shines the spotlight on over 50 emerging creators from Asia.

For an inside scoop to Find – Design Fair Asia 2022 and expert tips on styling compact HDB flats or new private housing, we speak to three of the hottest designers displaying their work at EMERGE @ Find.

Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Imperfectly perfect natural spaces

Building a solid reputation over the last decade by remaining faithful to his place of origin, Indonesian-born product designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo currently helms his own furniture brand, AlvinT, and multidisciplinary design & strategy firm, Shape of Thoughts.

Frustrated with the disconnect between designers, makers, materials and the environment, he believes that the pressure of profits and economic growth, has led to an overly “perfect and manufactured, uninformed and soulless” world – which to him, diminishes the character of a space.

Linking design to that of being human, Alvin firmly believes that our imperfections make us unique. He often humanises natural and locally-sourced materials like rattan, which are malleable through human hands, which results in each piece being slightly different and unique to the buyer.

He expounds, “at alvinT, we create products that are in limited quantity and most importantly, these pieces are designed to be only made by humans instead of machines. Sustainability is not just about using renewable materials but to produce less, but better”.

In addition to decluttering belongings that don’t add value to your life, Alvin recommends taking into account negative space that allows the room to breathe and to use lighting, which plays a crucial role when it is focused on certain areas, to visually create more zones within the space.

Phuong Dao: A multipurpose pairing of tradition & innovation

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, furniture designer Phuong Dao will be presenting her Cà Ràng collection at EMERGE @ Find, which utilises waste materials in its construction and design.

Combining Vietnamese tradition with innovation, it’s inspired by the Vietnamese cooking stove of the same name – which was also traditionally a social space for families to gather and share stories by the warm fire. For most families, the living room has now taken over this spatial function, so she has created a coffee table and stools for a modern setting.

Phuong enjoys working with waste materials because she believes that materials should have multiple uses and purposes. “The best advice I can give is to see waste material as ordinary material. The concept is new, but it does not mean we should be afraid of using it. 

People usually perceive waste materials as trash, but once you make the decision to accept the material as is, you will find comfortability and be able to truly experience the material”, says Phuong.

In coming, the designer expects a lot of changes in how we see our living spaces as a home. Our homes would need to be able to cater to different occasions and functions, which is essential for smaller-scale apartments in the city.

Investing in multifunction pieces of furniture would be key, and Phuong agrees that Wabi-Sabi design will remain popular as it bridges design and the imperfect beauty of craftsmanship.

Mismatched elements make for design interest

Similarly with an interest in getting people excited about the idea of innovation, recycling, social change and environmental management, Filipino designer Jim Zarate-Torres fits Find – Design Fair Asia’s theme of Materiality perfectly this year.

Showcasing his new collection that combines metal and coffee waste, the designer was fuelled by the scarcity of solid wood supplies locally to creatively used casted coffee grounds from his own café at Zarate Manila, as a component posing as an alternative to wooden tabletop.

When it comes to integrating different materials, textures and style to create a cohesive look, Jim says, “I think the importance of exploring with mixing materials is that it makes the design innovative and more interesting.

By incorporating selections on textures and styles, the product becomes luxurious with its harmony and stunning effect. Furthering the refined look with its distinctive contrast, material combinations can be the product’s own unique feature.”

His biggest tip for folks looking to design an innovative space? Invest in well-designed products that will last the spell of time. Beyond aesthetic character, this means also choosing products that will stand the wear and tear of everyday use and manages to stay attractive over time.

Jim believes that “form and function must go hand in hand to create innovative, durable designs for daily use. Designs for compact living means to focus on creating long-lasting, functional products with a contemporary appeal.”

Statement pieces that speak volumes

Weaving a narrative of heritage, consumption and waste in his designs, Designer and Educator, Hans Tan’s craft is a visually-appealing juxtaposition of beauty and utility. At his eponymous studio, the award-winning Singaporean designer creates striking works that are “pretty small compared to paintings and furniture, but say a lot.”

Known for his focus on developing materials and processes, Hans’ latest collection utilises outdated porcelain vessels sourced from old shops and thrift stores. The collection takes a less technical approach to resist blasting creating an “erasing” effect.

In a tongue in cheek play on ornamentation, he removes the glaze and the decorative elements from porcelain wares with aluminium oxide to create visual discourse and dichotomy. The pieces then offer varying outcomes when viewed from different perspectives: one could see the vessel as it was before treatment, after, or both at once.

Looking for more tips, tricks and expert advice? Make your way to Find – Design Fair Asia 2022 to get more insights and inspiration and level up your design game.

Meet designers from both multi-disciplinary and specialised studios that practice a wide range of design disciplines, and absorb a myriad of design sensibilities, creative styles, trends at Singapore’s most exciting design fair yet!

Find – Design Fair Asia runs Sept 22 to 24, 2022, at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956. For more information and to register your attendance, please visit their website.

This article was first published in City Nomads.

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