The late American designer Paul Rand once said “Without play, there would be no Picasso. Without play, there is no experimentation. Experimentation is the quest for answers.”
That’s sound advice indeed for the many designers who clock long hours in the office. With that in mind, we found five ways for work-obsessed designers to inject some play into their lives. These new and classic tabletop games—made by creatives for creatives—show how one can learn about design, think about design, and even design while having fun.
In the years leading to Singapore’s independence, Alfred Wong and other young architects founded what became the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) to empower local practitioners and educate society about the architecture profession.
Over five decades on, with the architecture profession well established locally, the 85-year-old has embraced the global market and built up a successful multinational practice that works on projects from around the world out of its two offices in Singapore and Chengdu.
Such foresight has helped Wong successfully grow his practice since starting it in 1957, just four years after graduating from architecture school in Melbourne, Australia. It has also made him a pioneer in Singapore’s design history. Besides laying the foundation of the profession as a founding member of SIA, Wong also advocated for architecture training to be transferred from the polytechnic to the university, and successfully delivered some of the country’s earliest modern buildings against a backdrop of decaying shophouses and traditional kampungs.
The industrial machine is a black box between designers and users. It is an imaginary border dividing craft and design. The works of Olivier van Herpt, however, pry apart the machine, expanding this unit for standardised production into a platform for creative exploration.
Tinkering with digital fabrication technologies, the industrial design graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven constructs methods and means of production that meld together seemingly divergent worlds. A 3D printer that drips, instead of expels, its output, just as how stalagmites naturally form in caves. An open source extruder that anyone can freely use to 3D print objects with the more sustainable material of beeswax. These output by the Dutch designer sit at the intersection of the digital and analogue, as well as design and tools.
By pushing the limits of existing 3D printing technologies, van Herpt has arrived at machines that produce larger forms and work with materials beyond conventional plastics. Out of paraffin and even clay, he has printed collections of objects that soften the precise and indifferent definition of industrial design. Vases seemingly handwoven by the hands of individual artisans, ceramics crafted with random imperfections, and pottery shaped by the environment they were made in—these manufactured objects demonstrate how van Herpt reinserts humanity into the man-made machine.
Just as the advent of digital fabrication has democratised manufacturing for the masses, the works of van Herpt seek to reconnect design with the human touch. Drilling deep into the design process, he flattens the production chain standing between designer and user with his innovative machines that are really tools which empower making.
By opening up the industrial machine, the designs of van Herpt invites all of us to collaborate in creating a world no one of us imagined possible.
——————————— An introductory essay written for Olivier van Herpt’s website.