Mass-produced products are convenient finds and easy on the pocket. But after the 10th mall in a 30km radius, you start asking, "What's the purpose to life?"
Okay, maybe not. But one does question where consumerism is taking civilisation. Taking that culture to task, sisters Aisah and Hani Dalduri are reclaiming craftmanship through their deeply personal initiative, Fictive Fingers.
Fictive Fingers is a creative business that sells a range of totes, pouches, pocket slings and wrap tops in limited collections. But it's not just the usual galore of stuff. Every piece is painstakingly handprinted, handmade and made to "last through memories".
Here's a look at the website:
"We put our work into the world with the intention to change the pervasive throwaway consumer culture in any way we can, instead of blindly adding to the pile," says Aisah, who's the brand director.
Photo: Fictive Fingers website
Aisah recounts the discussion in 2008 that led to Fictive Fingers.
"We sat down in the living room and asked what we see ourselves doing years down the road. We weren't sure about a lot of things but we knew, deep in our hearts, that we wanted to make things with our hands."
The name of their brand points to that vision.
Fictive Fingers is about the wonders of imagination, and the skills of deft fingers to make those wonders a reality.
Aisah was introduced to design in the digital world, while Hani studied fashion design and was a natural "hands-on" person. The sisters found that they balanced each other and hence put their minds together for better. Every design is inspired from their life and surroundings, and the materials are handpicked from local textile merchants.
Explaining the philosophy to their work, Aisah says: "We have a very simple yet distinct approach to design. We believe that design should be unobtrusive so as much as our prints are inspired by our way of life and have stories of their own, they're presented in a way where the users are given the freedom of self-expression."
A growing appreciation for local
Sisters Hani (left) and Aisah (right). Photo: Fictive Fingers website
At the beginning, none of their customers were local. It reflected the lack of appreciation for local and handmade products in Singapore back then. But thankfully, it's a very different scenario today. Fictive Fingers now has a strong local base in addition to their customers from the States, UK, Australia, and around Europe.
"People are starting to see the creative scene beyond just communication design or performing arts," says Aisah, who co-founded the not-for-profit Handmade Movement Singapore in 2012.
"We're still a really young nation, so there's definitely plenty of room for all of us to grow. We choose to think that thriving in a field has got nothing to do with the geographical location or surrounding environment, especially in this digital age. It really is all about self-motivation, pure handwork and building relationships."
Besides creating beautiful items, Fictive Fingers run in-studio events and classes, as well as partner with individuals or organisations like NTUC Income for specific projects. They also hope to have more meet-ups with local clientele this year. It's a lot of hard work inside and outside the studio, but they remain committed.
"The human quality of our brand doesn't stop at the handmade process but at making real-life connection with the people who have supported what we do all these years," Aisah says.
Working and journeying together
Hani and Aisah do not regret partnering up since first collaborating on their eldest sister's wedding stationery.
"It has been nothing but rewarding to work with someone who knows and understand you well." Hani says. "It gets tough not to discuss about work all the time. But experience will teach you to balance it accordingly."
For siblings thinking about going into business together, she advises them, "Be ready to accept them wholly for who they are and look out for each other's strengths and weaknesses. It is important, as you cannot do everything yourself, nor are you great at everything."
The pursuit of passion has also taught the sisters to accept the unexpected with appreciation.
"Life is short and I will make time for what I truly care for," Hani reflects. With that, she comments on the satisfaction they find in determining their own creative direction. "The most rewarding is when we could inspire others to answer their creative calling too, even the smallest idea, because that was how we started."
As is obvious from the interview, Aisah and Hani are two thoughtful women constantly motivated to bring meaning to their work and everything else in between. And Fictive Fingers has been instrumental in that journey. So regardless of what they do in future - if their plans even change - the values instilled through Fictive Fingers will always remain at the core of who they are.