Tag: Hagley & Hoyle

Design50: A Nation’s Stunning Debut (1970s)

CREDIT: Singapore Sports Council Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore and Sport Singapore
CREDIT: Singapore Sports Council Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore and Sport Singapore

It was a breakthrough project for both designer and client.

The 1973 Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games was the first time the young nation of Singapore held a major international sporting event. It also led to this ground-breaking poster by local design consultancy Hagley & Hoyle.

Splashed across a silver background were a boxing glove, a Sepak takraw ball, a weightlifter, and other elements from the 18 sports played at the games. This universe of beautiful illustrations and photo-imagery gravitated around an athlete in mid-stride to make a stunning introduction to this competition that featured over 1,600 athletes from Thailand, Malaysia, South Vietnam, Laos, Burma (now Myanmar), the Khmer Republic, and Singapore.

Mr Brian Hoyle first moved to Singapore in 1960 to pursue an advertising career before starting one of Singapore’s early graphic design consultancy.
Mr Brian Hoyle first moved to Singapore in 1960 to pursue an advertising career before starting one of Singapore’s early graphic design consultancy.

“It was quite a departure from what was acceptable at that point,” says then creative director Brian Hoyle. He had worked with his late art director Wong Mun Kin to conceptualise this 77-by-122 centimetres poster that listed out the week-long programme for the seventh edition of the games.

As the British expatriate recalls, design in Singapore was then thought of as just having images and text orderly lined up and “squared up in boxes”. Only a few years before, his studio had worked on a poster commemorating 150 years since the British founded modern Singapore which neatly listed out everything in two columns.

This 1973 SEAP Games poster, however, broke out of the box with its bold use of colour and imagery. It was a design that even Mr Hoyle thought was too “far out” for his clients, Mr Roy Daniels and Mr Alex Josey then working for the Ministry of Culture and National Sports Promotion Board respectively.

“The clients recognised what they thought was a good idea and a good style of presentation. I was quite pleased about it,” says the 80-year-old who is now retired in the UK.

Convincing the client was only half the battle won. In the days before computers were used in design, creating this complex design meant the use of many manual processes. Designer Peggy Tan, who had just joined the studio that year, explains how the illustrated photographs would have be converted into line prints before being stuck down piece by piece and the copy had to be pieced together separately by a typesetter before the poster was ready to be printed.

CREDIT: Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore
A 1969 poster commemorating 150 years since the British founded modern Singapore

CREDIT: Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

“As a montage it was quite bold. It generated buzz simple because the images were created through different methods,” said Miss Tan who took over the business from Mr Hoyle and continues to run it today.

This unconventional poster was eventually put up in schools, offices and even housing estates all across Singapore. Despite the significance of the event, Mr Hoyle says it was simply another job for his then four-year old studio to prove the effectiveness of good design to clients in Singapore. In 1969, Mr Hoyle and fellow British expatriate John Hagley had set up their pioneering graphic design consultancy in an industry dominated by advertising agencies. While agencies profited from booking advertising space in media outlets, the duo wanted to make a living from offering design solutions instead. Hagley & Hoyle was part of a handful of early studios who helped the graphic design industry take root in Singapore.

The successful hosting of the 1973 SEAP Games also led Singapore to host subsequent editions of the competition now know as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games—most recently, the 2015 edition. Along with the games also came the National Stadium and the formation of the Singapore Sports Council, both of which laid the foundation for today’s Sports Hub, Sport Singapore and the country’s aspirations to become a sporting nation.

Whose independence story do you want to hear?

Public voting is now underway for the speakers of The Design Society’s third annual conference. For the first time ever, you can decide the four Singapore graphic design studios that will be invited to share their tales in going on their own to practise design independently.

This is also the first time a list of Singapore studios that have come and gone since the 1960s has been compiled, all presented in a beautiful timeline designed by ROOTS. While most would be familiar with studios set up since the late 1990s, the earlier pioneer studios might be unknown to many. So here’s a short write-up of some of the studios I’ll like to hear from based on interviews I’ve conducted with them.

This is one of Singapore’s earliest graphic design houses set up by British creative directors John Hagley and Brian Hoyle. They were part of the first incarnation of the Creative Circle in the 1960s and set up their own design house to offer specialised graphic services in what was essentially a market made up only of advertising agencies. They gained a reputation for their print publications and typographic swashes, as seen in their logo. Amazingly, the studio is still alive today, now headed by Peggy Tan, who joined it in 1972.

Arguably the longest-existing design studio set up by a Singaporean,  Design Objectives was founded by Ronnie Tan over three decades ago and is still going strong. He was educated in Baharuddin Vocational Institute, Singapore’s first graphic design school, and worked briefly for all of the country’s big studios of the ’70s including Hagley & Hoyle and Central Design. The studio has done corporate identity work for Comfort Cab and EZ-Link card and has continued to work on major projects such as the signage of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, which won Design of the Year in last year’s President’s Design Award.

This studio was started by Sylvia Tan, who was probably the most educated designer in Singapore during the ’80s. She received a degree in typographic design from the London College of Printing and a Masters in Communication Design from Pratt Institute. Viscom’s speciality was in book design and the studio has worked on many “national” books and also regional publications like Mimar: Architecture in Development.

Another design studio set up by a female designer, Su Yeang is regarded as the most commercially successful designer of her times. She started her design career working in Cold Storage where she was the in-house designer for the corporate identities’ of the company’s various arms and the packaging of their products. In 1983, she formed her own studio and eventually sold it to a multi-national branding company. Her studio worked on the packaging of Tiger Beer for years, and also created the identities for The Esplanade and National Library Board. In 1997, the World Trade Organisation adopted the logo the studio designed as their official emblem.

The founders of Immortal broke out from Addison Design, Singapore’s biggest multi-national design company in the ’80s. These overseas-trained designers set up during a period when there was much discussion about Singapore’s national identity and seeing design and creativity from an Asian perspective. It’s an issue close to their heart and they’ve continued to grow in Asia while being rooted to it by being part of The Design Alliance, a network of design studios across this region.

This studio is fairly young but its founders Jackson Tan and Patrick Gan curated several design exhibitions that have helped establish the current network of Singapore designers from various disciplines by connecting them with one another and showcasing them to the world. Through their exhibitions 20/20, New Wave, UtterRubbish, UseLess and Shiok — Singapore designers had a platform to reach out to the world.


Singapore’s Pioneers in Advertising

I got to interview veteran creative director Allein Moore a couple of months back for a project to document Singapore’s design history. It turns out he too was doing documenting what went on in our advertising scene back then. Some of it is published in his online magazine ADAsia.

It is a collection of personal memories from the pioneers, beginning from the ’50s when Singapore’s modern advertising industry first began. Many of the personalities and company names will sound unfamiliar to most of us because of how much consolidation and merger the industry has underwent.

However, one name that is important from a graphic design perspective is Brian Hoyle. He first came to Singapore from the United Kingdom in 1960 to join an advertising firm. Two years later, he and other creative directors here started the Creative Circle Awards in 1962 to raise local graphic standards. Then, in 1969, he co-founded with another veteran ad man, John Hagley, a specialised graphic company known as Hagley and Hoyle — one of our earliest graphic design consultancy. The company is still around today, but no longer owned and run by either, who are both retired and back in Europe.

Find out more about Brian and other pioneers of Singapore’s ad industry here!