Graphic Designers + Poets Collaborate on Love Letters Written by a Building in Singapore

What would a building have to say on the subject of love? For five years, this unusual question has brought together poets and graphic designers to give a voice to The Substation, an independent arts center housed inside an old power station in Singapore. Each month“The Substation Love Letters Project” has issued a free postcard featuring the commissioned poem and accompanying graphic interpretations, to talk about what love means—from the point of view of the Substation itself.

This idea was dreamt up in 2010 by then newly appointed artistic director, Noor Effendy Ibrahim, as an affordable means for the center to address the public. Instead of producing a marketing flyer, The Substation’s team (namely Annabelle Aw, and later, Chris Ong) worked with local poet Cyril Wong to curate a thematic series of love letters. Each year, the center seeks out 12 Singaporean poets to muse on love in a variety of languages, and then invites a graphic designer to visually interpret them.

Read the full story in AIGA’s Eye on Design

5 Design-driven Titles That Burnt a Hole in My Wallet at the Singapore Art Book Fair

SABF2016 Picks

I came, I saw, and I left broke. This is a familiar experience for lovers of art book fairs the world over. It was certainly what happened to me at the recent Singapore Art Book Fair 2016, an annual showcase of arts publishing from the Southeast Asian city-state and its surrounding region. Inspired by similar fairs in Tokyo and New York City, independent bookstore BooksActually founded its own version of this fair with creative consultancy Hjgher three years ago. After sitting out last year, the fair returned last weekend, turning the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands into a “Cabinet of Curiosities.”

Read the full story in AIGA’s Eye on Design

It’s live: Singapore Graphic Archives

SGA

When I first started working on INDEPENDENCE: The history of graphic design in Singapore since the 1960s some five years ago, it opened my eyes to the breadth of visual culture that we produce and consume in this city-state. As I wrote this book on Singapore’s graphic design history, I also started keeping a collection of graphic materials found in Singapore. I picked up flyers, bought books, and even started making colour photocopies at our library—paying a dollar a piece. It struck me that instead of just amassing cabinets of these materials, I should share them so as to raise awareness of Singapore’s visual culture. That led to the founding of the Singapore Visual Archive in 2011, a digital repository of things that can be seen here.

Five years on, I have relaunched the website as the Singapore Graphic Archives. The name change reflects the focus on graphic design and visual communication from Singapore, but the aim is still the same: to collect and document graphic design from the Southeast Asian city-state to encourage research on the industry, and to promote a critical appreciation of its visual culture. I’ve also had the privilege of working with local digital agencies Pettycache and Watchtower to come up with a cleaner and more functional (responsive!) website. In preparation for revamping the archive, I “studied’ many other design archives around the world through writing for AIGA’s Eye on Design blog. Two in particular inspired how I’ve gone about running this operation entirely on my own: Kind Company’s Display and the Seymour Chwast Archive.

Now that the archive is live, I can return to the laborious process of discovering, researching, scanning and uploading graphic materials on to the website. The dream is that I can get paid to do this, or at least find funding to enable the website with more features and create better archiving processes. But the pleasure for now—and hopefully always—is discovering designs from Singapore that widen my eyes and I go, “Wah lao! I need to share this!”