Talking about design, people tend to think of short-lived fashionable object from the modern world. But for Outofstock _ a rising designer group in Singapore _ design is rooted in the old crafts.
Laputa: Outofstock created an installation for the International Furniture Fair Singapore based on the ‘Design Larger than Life’ theme.
"Craft is one of the very roots of design, they are co-existent," said Gabriel Tan, a member of Outofstock. He added that crafts are also deeply connected to a country's culture and heritage, and for a country to lose them is equivalent to losing one's soul.
Outofstock consists of four members from different cultural backgrounds. Tan and Wendy Chua are from Singapore, Gustavo Maggio comes from Argentina and Sebastian Alberdi is from Spain; all met at Electrolux Design Lab 2005. The name is derived from their fortuitous meeting in Stockholm. Since 2006, the group has offered furniture, lighting, interior design and art direction to clients around the world.
Outofstock was among rising designer groups invited to talk at 100% Design Singapore. The country's first design conference recently wrapped up with new design products and over 5,000 local and international interior designers, architects and retailers from more than 30 countries.
The young designers are trying to revive disappearing crafts and blend the interpreted natural elements in their works. Nostalgic and natural elements are seen in many pieces by Outofstock.
"It is natural to be form-inspired by what see and experience in nature. The key is to be able to extract the essence and create an abstract version of what inspires us. That is why most of our works are pared down in form and use of materials," said Chua.
Many designs by the group were based on nature, others on crafts. Up and Away is a light piece resembling a kite using high-tech glass that emits light from its surface. Inspired by tree branches, Black Forest is a table made up of two interlocking Y-shaped oak junctions and an asymmetric top.
A hanging vase designed by the group is actually an adaptation of a cylinder, an auto part made by the last artisan of a metalsmith family. It's how the group try to revive disappearing crafts and add a new function.
In a project for FiftyThree Restaurant, Michael Han, the chef and owner, was looking for unique umbrellas to protect his customers as they walk from the restaurant to the car park.
The team found out that all the craftsmen had returned to China and ended up learning how to make a new umbrella from scratch. It took almost a year for their wood artisan to study and rebuild the umbrella only to make five umbrellas for the restaurant.
"It is how one works for those who appreciate the work of art," said Tan.
Most Singaporeans see design works as either short-lived objects or as unaffordable.
Tan added it is difficult to change people's mind but blending an old craft with new design is how the group tries to educate people to appreciate the works of craftsmen.
"It doesn't matter if they not buy it, or if they feel it is expensive. The first step is to get people who have no previous knowledge or appreciation of design to acknowledge that what the craftsmen are doing is admirable and important," Tan said. The group recently created The Workshop Gallery as a non-commercial online space for everyone to appreciate art and design.
THIS PHOTO AND BELOW Living Texture and Process
Up and Away: A light piece resembling a kite designed for SAAZS using hightech glass that emits light from its surface.
Black Forest: Inspired by tree branches, this table is made up of two interlocking Y-shaped oak junctions and an asymmetric top. It can be disassembled into three separate parts for flat shipping. ‘We tried to achieve the visual analogy of a pool of water with the table surface, such that when objects are placed on the steel mirror table top, we see its reflection beneath.’
About the author
- Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai