There was much interest in my previous post introducing some veteran design studios that I think should be voted to speak at The Design Society Conference in April, so I thought I’ll try to profile the rest of the studios that I missed out:
Design 3 (1981)
Started by two industrial designers who could only find graphic design work viable during that period. Its two founders, Tan Khee Soon and Lim Lay Ngoh, were part of the 13 that founded the Designers Association Singapore, our country’s first multi-disciplinary design association. Two pieces of their work that many Singaporeans will remember growing up with is the old logos for the Neighbourhood Police Posts and that of the Singapore Civil Defence.
Ransome Chua Design Associates (1986)
One of the few locally-trained designer who was brave enough to set up his own studio. After graduating from the Baharuddin Vocational Institute, he worked at Hagley and Hoyle for three years before starting his own studio. They specialised in editorial work, working on several art books for the cultural institutions here.
Lancer Design (1989)
Mark Phooi started out as a freelancer and dropped the word ‘free’ from ‘freelancer’ to form his studio name. Over the last two decades, he has grew his business to include a design school, First Media Design School, which wants to nurture “designpreneus” of the future.
Design Counsel (1989)
Another powerhouse design studio of the ’90s that was formed by a female, Kim Faulkner. She was the marketing manager at multinational Addison Design before breaking away to create her own multi-disciplinary design studio and she made it explicit that it was to help the Singapore industry grow. Some of her corporate identity clients include custom shirt maker CYC, slimming studio Expressions International, and the former Television Corporation of Singapore. Eventually, she grew the studio big enough to sell to multinational branding agency Interbrand.
Duet Design (1990)
This all-female team left Viscom Design to do their own thing and have quietly built a reputation serving the hospitality industry in Singapore and around the region. They’ve worked on the signage and environmental graphics for several of WOHA’s architecture projects and also did Rj Paper’s calendars for several years.
Crunch Communications (1993)
This studio was started by Sim Kok Huoy, who founded Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ graphic design course. He got a graphic design degree from the UK in 1973 and returned to work in various multinational advertising agencies throughout the ’70s and ’80s before coming out to start his own studio.
Bonsey Design (1993)
Jonathan Bonsey was the creative director at multinational Addison Design, Singapore’s biggest foreign design firm in the ’80s. The studio did many packaging projects for F&N because it was a relatively new field here. He then went to Addison’s overseas offices and returned to Singapore to start his own studio in 1993, focusing on branding, then also a rather new concept.
Momentum Design (1993) + Then Design (1993)
Two firms started by expatriates in Singapore and fondly remembered by younger designers for their cutting-edge designs during that period, e.g. Then Design was said to have worked on many Song + Kelly projects. However, founder Spencer Ball eventually sold the studio and is now with Anthem Worldwide’s Singapore office. As for Momentum, it is now based in Malaysia and is still run by creative director William Atyeo.
DPC Design (1996)
Patrick Cheah headed the Singapore office of Australian multinational Cato Design through the 1990s. Cato was one of the three big foreign design studios to have an office in Singapore together with Addison and Landor. Patrick left to start his own studio in 1996 and worked on projects like the corporate identity of Keppel Corporation’s family of companies, Boncafe and the Swissotel. He currently also runs design offices in both China and Indonesia, an arrangement that is quite rare for a Singapore studio.