Tag: :phunk studio

East and West: Graphic Design in Singapore Today

Since British advertising agencies brought modern graphic design into Singapore after the Second World War, a thriving community of independent studios has emerged in this former colony in Southeast Asia. Today, Singapore is a modern metropolis set to celebrate fifty years of independence in 2015, but the nation-state is still struggling to create a distinct local identity while earning global recognitionjust like its contemporary graphic design scene.

Two separate exhibitions held by Singapore’s top graphic designers in the 1990s and 2000s show how the profession had changed within a decade in the city-state. In 1994, Su Yeang paid her own way to hold “Breaking Barriers” in The Design Centre, an exhibition of Su Yeang Design’s work to educate the public and businesses on the importance of good design. It reflected a time when graphic design was seen as a problem-solving tool for businesses. Fast forward to 2005, :phunk Studio held “A Decade of Decadence”, a retrospective exhibition of their “Greatest Hits”. Besides the influence of music, this exhibition held in the Singapore History Museum was supported by entertainment establishments Zouk and MTV, as well as Tiger Beer. As William Chan of :phunk then said: “When we started, people thought all graphic designers could do were design ‘Big Sale’ flyers and lay out text on posters. But these days, we are viewed as trend-setters.”

Read the rest at Design Observer

When Two Universes Collide In A City

 

eccentric city

Take some time out on Sunday to catch the last day of Eccentric City: Rise and Fall, a paper city created out of a collaboration between Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami and Singapore design collective :phunk studio. This “eccentric” city was built out of paper buildings created using the traditional Japanese paper craft of “Tatebanko”, and each one of the buildings brings together the distinctive illustrations of the two collaborators and their vastly different cultural upbringings. On one side is Tanammi’s psychedelic works that are heavily influenced by his traumatic childhood experiences of World War II and growing up as part of the countercultural movement in the 1960s. In stark contrast, is the black and white work of :phunk whom depicted the technological city of Singapore they grew up in. Though the exhibition is small, the paper city is quite a sight to marvel at.

TanaamiTimesABesides the paper city with :phunk, Tanammi has also worked with local design agency WORK to produce two free issues of The Tanaami Times, a beautifully crafted newspaper that profiles all three collaborators and some of their work. The agency’s latest issue of its limited run WERK magazine, issue number 18, also features the work Tanammi as well.

Finally, here’s a video shot by the team that shows how each of the buildings in Eccentric City was built using Tatebanko:

A TATEBANKO (ECCENTRIC CITY : RISE AND FALL) from ferdi trihadi on Vimeo.

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Eccentric City: Rise and Fall
19 Aug – 19 Sep, 10am – 6pm
ICA Gallery 1, #B1-04, LASALLE College of the Arts

Talking Back To The State

National campaigns are a big part of life in Singapore. Even before independence, the government had began using all sorts of campaigns to create model citizens and to shape the city to its vision.

In the 1960s, Singaporeans were exhorted to eat wheat when rice was in short supply. The 1970s a Speak Mandarin campaign was introduced to encourage the Chinese community to use Mandarin instead of dialects. This was then followed by the National Courtesy Campaign in the 1980s where Singaporeans were told to be courteous to one another. Campaigns died down a little from the 1990s, but a significant one in recent times was after the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) when Singaporeans were encouraged to ‘Step Out’ and resume their daily lives.

A Straits Times article in 2003 counted some 200 documented campaigns between 1958 and 1995, and anyone in Singapore since the 1980s would have been exposed to an average of more than 10 national campaigns a year! But such campaigns have largely been a one-way communication from the state. A new exhibition, Campaign City: Life in Posters, finally gives voice to the target audience. Ten local artists were asked to re-interpret a national campaign that they remembered in the form of a poster, an essential marketing collateral before the day of television and the Internet.

Campaign-city-Ian

Ian Woo’s response (left) to the 1970s campaign against the hippies culture (right) that even saw musician Kitaro sent home when he came to perform in Singapore with long hair.

While artists like Michelle Fun, :phunk studio, eeshaun, and Ian Woo re-appropriated old campaign posters, others like Messy Msxi, Zhao Renhui and Clare Ryan created new work in response to the original campaign slogans. The 1970s ‘Two is Enough’ campaign, which encouraged Singaporean families to stop at two babies, was the most popular campaign as Justin Lee, ampulets, and Randy Chan each did a poster for it. This campaign is arguably one of the nation’s few successes, so much so, that low fertility has become a problem for Singapore today.

While the posters are personal responses, when read as a collection, there seems to be an underlying sense of ambivalence and pessimism about these campaigns. Randy’s poster (below) was especially memorable, visualising the many campaigns in the form of a condom — a critique on how a protective nanny state not only denied fertility but life in this city too.

 

Campaign-city-RandyYet, one cannot deny the iconic value the old campaign posters have left in our visual culture. They may never have been very effective in moulding society and its people in the way it was meant to, but it has certainly helped shape how we see this city.

Campaign City: Life in Posters
9 Sep – 15 Oct
Tue-Sun, 2pm-8pm
Evil Empire, 48 Niven Road