Even as traditional food businesses keep up with the times, they must keep their “soul” while showing empathy towards their customers, says Larry Peh.
When Tong Heng approached him to rebrand their over eight-decades-old business, Larry Peh knew it would be a fine balancing act. The Cantonese pastry shop in Chinatown is well-known amongst older Singaporeans for its diamond-shaped egg tarts. But its new generation owner, Ana Fong, also wanted to attract a younger audience so the business would continue thriving.
“The question for these brands is: ‘How do we change ourselves without alienating the older fans?’,” says Larry. “Yet, we also want younger audiences to look at them and say, ‘Sounds interesting. I want to try it out.’.”
What is design? This is a question that frequently popped up when putting together this publication. Many of our interviewees expressed (pleasant) surprise to be featured in a “design” publication, while some designers were sceptical about including less than professional work. Underlying these reactions is an assumption that “design” is extra(ordinary) and can only be created by those trained in it. This has led to the popular view that there are chairs, and then there are “designer” chairs—a binary view we seek to reframe with ByDesign: SINGAPORE.
While I type these words on my laptop at a hawker centre, I can’t help but notice the uncles looking over from the next table. They are not the only ones. Passersby stare curiously, including the cleaner who slows down whenever she pushes her trolley by.
Maybe it’s how my sleek laptop stands out from the gaudy mustard table. Or how I had casually plonked this shiny aluminum slab on a plastic surface stained by kopi and teh. As the only customer using a laptop in the hawker centre, I stand out like a sore thumb. My back certainly feels that way from sitting on the stiff stool.