05 SEP 2022

Weird and wonderful works of EMERGE @ FIND 

Did you know that there are over 150 dog grooming services in Singapore cutting an average of one kilogram of hair each, per day? These are then disposed of as waste.  

Singaporean designer Cynthia Chan decided to explore how chiengora fibres (yarn made from dog hair) can be reused. The outcome is Furmidable and the collection will be on display at EMERGE @ FIND, a first of its kind staging of works by more than 80 emerging creatives across Southeast Asia as part of FIND – Design Fair Asia. 

Chan will not be the only one presenting a project featuring alternative materials at the showcase; other finds include Wilhelmina Garcia from The Philippines, Phuong Dao from Vietnam and THINKK design studio from Thailand.  

Their use of material is equally fascinating: Garcia makes furniture from plastic waste such as beverage cartons, while Dao creates hers from old newspapers moulded from traditional Vietnamese papermaking techniques.  

THINKK, founded by Decha Archjananun and Ploypan Theerachai, previously collaborated on a project to design tabletop objects crafted from six of the most common waste materials in Bangkok: incense sticks, lottery tickets, coffee grounds, plastic bags, wood chips and construction debris. 

The Lens of Materiality

By now you might have an inkling that these designers of EMERGE @ FIND are pursuing the use of unusual materials. And you’re not wrong.  Curator of the showcase and editor-in-chief of Design Anthology, Suzy Annetta, has chosen the theme of materiality for the show as it is a “natural one” since material has always been a driver of design, and perfect unifying theme for EMERGE’s selection of regional talent. While reviewing the works, she further split them into the pillars of Natural, Salvage, Unconventional and Innovative. 

“Without imposing an external conception of ‘Asian design’, we find traditional materials and crafts, the waste of rapidly industrialising and urbanising environments, the improvisation that characterises many regional cities,” she says. “And by enabling designers to showcase their work, we hope that fellow members of the design industry and the wider public will be exposed to not only the artistic sense of these designers, but also to Southeast Asia’s rich heritage that is communicated through their work, surrounding the theme of material.” 

Mixing the old and the new

Many of these creatives are united by their desire to spotlight the vernacular craftsmanship of their country, coupled with sustainable practices.  

Case in point: Handhyanto ‘Handy’ Hardian of studiohand, from Indonesia.  Among his collection is the Blankon table lamp, where the lampshade is made of dried palm leaves (lontar) and the structure, abaca rope and metal.  The piece was also inspired by the traditional Javanese hat and is at once rustic, light and unconventional.  

Another is MAD3 Studio from Malaysia, founded by Tang Mun Kian, Desmond Phang and Bernard Chong, that specialises in string-like chairs that are instantly recognisable throughout Southeast Asia. It works with artisans from around the Klang Valley to create contemporary and colourful versions of the steel and woven PVC-cord furniture that were found in many homes in Malaysia from the mid-20th century.  

As Annetta puts it, such creations exemplify the Southeast Asian roots through and through. More than that, the designers here “are quietly but diligently researching, experimenting with, improvising and trialling new materials, technologies and processes that could literally change the world.” 

Be sure to support our Southeast designers at EMERGE @ FIND.  

EMERGE @ FIND is brought to you by DesignSingapore Council and dmg events. An anchor event of Singapore Design Week 2022, the pavilion will see over 50 emerging creators from Asia who will display their work. For this first edition in 2022, EMERGE @ FIND will present a dedicated Southeast Asian showcase that will shine the spotlight on design talent from this region. Visit the EMERGE @ FIND website for more info.