Tag: Comme des Garcons Guerilla Store

WERK No. 22: Re-imagining the Future of Dover Street Market

WERK-No.22-pages-8In 2004, he helped COMME des GARÇONS set up its first Guerrilla Store in Singapore. That started the first of many collaborations between Theseus Chan of WORK and the Japanese fashion label owned by Rei Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the label’s multi-brand store, Dover Street Market, Theseus designed an entire issue of his cult graphic magazine, WERK, to explore what the next decade of Rei’s “Beautiful Chaos” might look like.

How did this new issue of WERK come about? Why dedicate it to Dover Street Market’s 10th anniversary?
In 2004, Adrian Joffe shared with me the revolutionary idea of Dover Street Market (DSM) when he visited the Guerrilla Store I was operating.

A decade has gone by quite rapidly. It is wonderful to see how that idea has evolved over the years and paved the way for so many other new retail concepts. WERKshares the pioneering spirit that embraces new, and celebrate forwardness, which is what DSM is part of and more.

How has Rei Kawakubo’s concept of “Beautiful Chaos” inspired this issue?
Rei wanted for DSM:  “…market place where various creators from various field gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision.”

This manifesto is enough to spark all sorts of ideas!

WERK is know for its experimental designs. How has this approach been applied in this issue?
We set for ourselves very tight perimeters in designing this issue. We only have images of past and present interiors and windows of DSM to work with…

Our task was to re-imagine the future under the heading of “The Next Ten Years”. Ironically, we went to the past to get to the future.

We created a new series of lo-fi “clashing, confusing, energetic” imageries that are ironic, using past and present elements of DSM.

The space imageries are all fiction (obviously) and they are created as a visual collage using images from DSM and NASA.


You’ve had a long working relationship with COMME des GARÇONS having run their guerrilla stores and having your graphics printed on their clothes. When and how did this partnership first begin?
I told him that was revolutionary and suggested to have one in Singapore, and that I will the charge of this outpost in the Far East. We did four occupations over four years at various sites, including Chinatown, the Malay-Arab quarters at Haji Lane, the heartlands neighbourhood at Bukit Merah View, and finally at Mount Sophia’s Old School, a defunct school.Running their Guerrilla Store in 2004 was the beginning. Adrian related to me about a project that he and Rei came out with, and it was their first Guerrilla occupation in Berlin.

In many ways, your work can also be described as “Beautiful Chaos” too. In your opinion, what are the similarities and differences between your design approach as compared to Rei’s?
What is common is that we all have strong personal visions.

Creativity Pops-up Across Singapore

Singapore creativity is all around town these days — if you can catch it on time. Pop-up markets have become a popular platform for local designers to display and sell their wares. These ephemeral events allow groups of small independent designers to rent interesting spaces together, as well as present as an attraction larger than themselves.

While trade shows in convention centres have traditionally served this role, the new pop-up style markets present themselves as specially-crafted experiences. They present designers around particular themes or standards, and are usually held in locations outside of typical retail spaces. Creatory showcased over 60 of Singapore’s creative talents in an industrial building in MacPherson two weekends ago, and in February, NÓNG took over the rooftop carpark of People’s Park Complex where organiser Edible Gardens is also building an urban farm.

A carpark rooftop was turned into an urban farm and marketplace for food and design in February as part of Edible Garden’s efforts to promote Singaporeans to “Grow Your Own Food”. | NÓNG
A carpark rooftop was turned into an urban farm and marketplace for food and design in February as part of Edible Garden’s efforts to promote Singaporeans to “Grow Your Own Food”. | NÓNG

Reclaiming out-of-the-box locations for creative showcases is not new in this city. Back in 2004, design agency WORK brought the Comme des Garcons Guerilla Store to Singapore, helping the Japanese fashion label open year-long pop-up stores in Chinatown, Arab Street, Bukit Merah and Mount Sophia — none of which were known to be hip districts then. Around the same period, FARM also started regular ROJAK sessions by inviting designers and artists in Singapore to present their work at unconventional spaces such as the old National Stadium and an apartment in Golden Mile Complex. That today’s pop-ups are filled with local designers who are making and selling (not just talking), suggests the industry has grown. And it’s not just online design retailers like Naiise and Haystakt who hold such pop-ups, but there are specialist companies like Public Garden and Shophouse & Co that do so.

Creative pop-ups are only getting bigger and more ambitious. Come mid-September, Keepers: Singapore Design Collective will open for five months in the heart of Orchard Road with a specially-built pavilion designed by Zarch Collaboratives and ACRE. Also worth mentioning, is 2902 Gallery‘s on-going campaign to build DECK, a photography centre designed out of container boxes by LAUD Architects, which presumably can be moved when the two-year lease runs out.

2902 Gallery is trying to raise $20,000 online to build DECK, a new independent arts center dedicated to photography.
2902 Gallery is trying to raise $20,000 online to build DECK, a new independent arts center dedicated to photography.

Even as pop-ups expand, brick-and-mortar stores that retail local design are not going away anytime soon either. Hong Kong based Kapok opened a store in the National Design Centre last year offering products from designers around the world including Singapore. Home-grown design shops, The Little Dröm Store and Supermama also recently refreshed and move into new stores too.

For a country, whose previous prime minister once declared that “Life for Singaporeans is not complete without shopping,” buying local design has never been easier than now.