Singapore's Tastemakers - Part 1
Taste is subjective, a matter of cultural, societal, psychological and emotional experiences all combined to shape how one’s perception of what’s beautiful and what’s not. But there are commonalities, shared ideas. Last month, LiTV (Life Inspired) selected four Singaporeans who are shaping our style, design and experience palates both locally and abroad. We speak with the four tastemakers to find out what shapes their style and taste.
Bu Shukun, 34
The founder of architecture design firm Architology also co-owns Trace, a club; One Fantasy, a Thai disco; Refinery, a restaurant; a time-pledging crowd-sourced charity app; a data analytics app for fast-moving consumer goods; and Tuckshop, a casual diner. Next up is Recess (next to the Tuckshop), which will be a space available for rent to anyone for any purpose. Above the Refinery is also a workshop space that hosts a few small firms and gives them the option to construct, produce and create.
Community is clearly the focus for Shukun’s projects. He's taken his expertise and wealth of knowledge in design and translated it to various projects, using the same ideas. “Architecture is about two things: solving or finding a better solution to a problem; and preventing problems before they occur.” His next project, Recess is focused on community engineering. "Communal spaces are rarely privatised, because they don’t make economic sense. We wanted this to be a social project in a diverse area like Geylang, to see what would happen." The location, next to Tuckshop, will be where one can host anything from a pop-up to a skit. For him, it seems, it's less about profitability, but about re-engineering a community to engage with each other once more.
Nathan Yong, 37
Former President's Design Award winner Nathan Yong first made headlines with his previous label, Air Division, but he's gone on to an edgier environment with Grafunkt, with a raw industrial showroom at Playfair Road. "People like to come here for inspiration, to discover what’s new. They don’t always want the formal and pristine showroom spaces at larger companies." His designs have earned him international renown, a number of which have been acquired by Italian label Ligne Roset and retailed. More recently, Grafunkt is also involved in the Ligne Roset showroom that opened at Millennia Walk.
Yong doesn’t follow a rigid design style. Rules are meant to be broken. "Sometimes, methods or materials aren’t suitable, and we have to find alternatives. We may envision an item in wood, but it proves difficult, so we try metal." In design, flexibility is necessary, at least in his opinion.