Protective of Little India’s authenticity, home-grown LISHA Chairman relishes the challenge of cutting through the chaos to keep this historic district thriving.
The recent hot-button question of whether Little India needs a makeover is not new to Rajakumar Chandra. The chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers & Heritage Association (LISHA) has been grappling with this issue in his decade long place making efforts for this district along Serangoon Road.
While some see Little India today as crowded and disorganised, he sees vitality and authenticity. Over the years of working with the URA and other government agencies to manage and sustain this conserved precinct’s vibrancy – a dedication that has led to him being conferred a Special Recognition prize from the Singapore Tourism Board and a Place Champion Award from the Place Management Coordinating Forum 1 in 2016 – Rajakumar’s approach of place-making in Little India is based on a simple philosophy: “Once you move away life, you can’t bring it back.”
It is the simplest of features found on many food packaging. A tear, a jagged edge, or a perforated line—a godsend to anyone who has struggled to open a packet of chips. These designs conveniently replace the need for brute force, and are considerate gestures from food manufacturers that have thought carefully about how we eat.
Eating, or the journey that food takes to get into our mouths (and even within our bodies), is a logistical issue many of us take for granted. This global movement of crops and livestock, from a farm through a processing facility, to a market, into a kitchen, on a dining table, and finally, entering as food inside our stomachs, is one facilitated by design at every turn. We don’t have to travel far to see examples: start with the plate, spoon, and fork, on the dining table, the most ubiquitous tools the world eats with today. They stand in for our bare hands and function in ways we cannot. Plates divide food into portions, spoons let us sip hot soup, while forks help us pick out the tiniest of ingredients.
Commissioned for the inaugural FoodCine.ma 2016, this showcase presents 15 objects, speculative designs and installations that arise out of observations of how design facilitates the ways we eat together in Singapore. Whether it is consuming forever “fresh” food, having meals at our hawker centres, dining in both life and death, or eating with digital devices, we invite visitors to look at eating beyond a mere ingestion of food, but as a consumption of values and cultures.