The Singapore Graphic Archive is a visual treat for any design enthusiast. Founded in 2011 by Justin Zhuang, the archive is a treasure trove of vintage Singaporean design created before the 2000s. The entire archive, in its web and Instagram form, is solely down to Justin’s interest in his country’s design history.
After writing a book titled Independence: The History of Graphic Design in Singapore since the 1960s, Justin compiled his research into the archive. Collecting material from interviewees, old newspapers, publications and more, the archive highlights beautiful design from matchboxes to bus times guides uncovering Singapore’s rich layers of history, from its colonial past to its economically prosperous present.
Justin Zhuang has a little obsession with the past – our design past, specifically. The founder of the nascent Singapore Design Archives began collecting design objects and ephemera some years ago when he was commissioned to write a book on the history of graphic design in Singapore. He now continues to amass “treasures” found in second-hand book shops and junk stores, in his personal bid to tell a richer story of Singapore design history.
The Archives, a ground-up effort to document, research and present Singapore’s design history, are currently housed at the fifth floor of the National Design Centre. Justin shares why he is doing this, what he’s gained from it and how you could also contribute to the Archives.
Dsg: What is the Singapore Design Archives?
Justin Zhuang (JZ): The Archives is a platform to document, research and present Singapore design histories. We put up a monthly window display of local design objects and ephemera at the DesignSingapore Associates Network* office located at the National Design Centre (#05-04). This can be viewed any time, but the public is also welcome to come in and take a closer look at the objects during our open houses. This happens every two Saturdays in a month (our website and Instagram have the latest schedule). In addition, visitors can also browse our growing collection of books and artefacts related to Singapore design. If you are researching about Singapore design, we are also happy to see if we have resources that are of use!
*The Archives is supported by the DesignSingapore Associates Network (DAN), a network of current and former DesignSingapore scholars, and the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg). Justin Zhuang is one of 54 members of the DAN.