Most Singaporeans have sat on one before. Plastic stools support the bums of kopitiam goers around the city as they tuck into their wanton mee, nasi lemak or prata.
They come in all shades and shapes like the customers they serve, and one in particular is the design of Mr Chew Moh-Jin, a Singaporean industrial designer who unexpectedly created what is now an icon of Singapore’s food culture.
Picture a 30-centimetres wide circle bounded tightly by a square. Extend a third of the square to a height of 44-centimetres to create a leg. Repeat for the remaining three corners and you have an outline of the stool Mr Chew designed—a modern solution for a decades-old Singapore plastics manufacturer.
“Made in Singapore” has always been a challenging term for Singaporeans. Manufacturers grumble about the high costs of labour and land here. Designers lament the lack of expert collaborators willing to experiment and innovate. Consumers complain about paying a premium for local products that are no better than overseas imports.
Four on-going exhibitions in Singapore coincidentally retrace the nation’s history of making, offering an opportunity to understand and reflect on some of the issues that plague craft, design and manufacturing in the city-state today.