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.
Dragons are everywhere in Singapore these days. As a pin, a door stopper and a toy rocker. On music album cover, a fashion spread and even an elections manifesto. This mythical animal has become a part of the Singapore story—and it all started with Mr Khor Ean Ghee.
Close to four decades ago, he dreamt up a playground shaped as this Asian symbol while working as an interior designer in the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Mr Khor had been tasked by the agency’s then head honcho Liu Thai Ker to design play spaces for a new generation of public housing that would go beyond providing just a roof over Singaporeans heads.
“The thinking then was to have more local identity and themes. We wanted something different, designs that reflect what we see in Singapore,” recalls the designer who joined HDB in 1969.