Tag: Design Archives

Fifty Years of Singapore Design Timeline


Coming after Singapore’s golden jubilee celebrations in 2015 is this Fifty Years of Singapore Design book that I got to work on for the DesignSingapore Council. For four months, beginning late last year, the team—including Dawn Lim and Sheere Ng—worked on turning the 2015 exhibition of the same name curated by WY-TO into this 333-page book.

Working with the existing selection of designs that were “iconic, popular and pivotal” to Singapore’s national history, we researched and wrote about the growth of the local design industry from independence in 1965 to 2015. Each decade has its own historical overview and selection of objects that are organised behind certain thematic developments that emerged during the period.


Of particular interest to those keen on Singapore’s design history is a timeline that actually traces back to 1932, when a seed of industrial design was sown with the formation of the Singapore Manufacturers’ Association (today known as the Singapore Manufacturing Federation). While the original timeline simply listed milestones in the development of architecture and design in Singapore—focusing on government design policies, design education and the founding of various design associations—we sought to elaborate on each to provide a bit more context. The timeline is a skeleton waiting to be fleshed out, and hopefully, more Singapore design histories will emerge from this.

From my understanding, this book is not for sale but will eventually be made available in Singapore design schools and the public libraries. More information can be found in this press release put out by the DesignSingapore Council.


This book follows a 2012 publication I wrote on the history of graphic design in Singapore. While Fifty Years of Singapore Design was commissioned by a government agency, Independence: The History of Graphic Design in Singapore Since the 1960s was a ground-up initiative by The Design Society. Both books are designed by H55 Studio. For me, the books nicely bookend a period when Singaporeans’ initial curiosity for identity turned into a nationalistic hunger for nostalgia, as witnessed by the many projects put out for the SG50 campaign to commemorate Singapore’s 50th anniversary.

As a designer who came up to me at the launch said, “Thank you for remembering me.”

Saving Indonesia’s Graphic Design History Before It’s Lost Forever

One group is on a mission to open the country’s first design museum 

A propaganda poster created when Indonesia was occupied by the Japanese during the second World War. COURTESY OF DGI

As Indonesia was liberated from an authoritarian regime over a decade ago, a democratic government emerged—and so did a graphic design archive.

In 2003, the Southeast Asian nation was recovering from a recession and was on the cusp of holding its first direct presidential elections when Hanny Kardinata started an electronic mailing list to share his notes and artifacts on Indonesia’s graphic design past. This casual conversation with fellow designers Henricus Kusbiantoro and the late Priyanto Sunarto blossomed under the country’s more permissive climate, growing into a community that was formalized in 2007 as the Desain Grafis Indonesia (DGI).

Read the full story in AIGA’s Eye on Design

Russia’s First Design Museum is Racing to Preserve its Greatest Soviet-era Treasures

Discarded financial documents, burnt archives at dachas [countryside houses], and metal closets missing keys for more than a decade. A Russian spy drama? It’s actually the true story behind the building of the Moscow Design Museum’s archive.

The institution, founded by two graphic designers, a journalist, and an architect (Alexander Sankova, Stephen Lukyanov, Nadezhda Bakuradze, and Valery Patkonen) has been racing against time to recover the quickly disappearing artifacts of Soviet design history. For a period that stretches from the 1920s to the dissolution of the union seven decades later, this means sifting through what has become discarded as junk and tracking down elderly designers who are surprised to be remembered at all.

“When we started collecting Soviet design artifacts, many designers cried out, ‘Where were you two months ago? I’ve just burned all my archives at dacha!’” explains Sankova over an e-mail interview. “They couldn’t believe that someone would ever want their archives for the museum.”

Read the rest in AIGA’s Eye on Design