Tag: STUCK

A Surprising Side of Singapore Design

Surprising Shots of Singapore (1987)
A CIS advertisement from the September 1987 issue of the International Defense Review.

“Singapore design” today conjures up images of porcelain plates and nostalgia-inspired souvenirs, but few would think of guns, tanks and naval ships.

Over the decades, this UNESCO Creative City of Design has grown from a mere importer of military equipment to one designing and selling them as well. These include the Singapore Assault Rifle – 21st Century (SAR 21), the Bionix armoured fighting vehicles and the Endurance-class landing platform dock ships—all equipment Singaporean men, who have to serve a mandatory two-year military service, would be familiar with today.

As early as 1966, the newly independent nation-state began developing an armament industry with the establishment of the Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS). Its first products were manufacturing 5.56 mm ammunition for the Colt AR-15, the then standard rifle for the Singapore Armed Forces, and minting Singapore coins. Over the decades, the defence company took on bigger equipment, eventually developing Singapore’s first locally designed artillery weapon, the Field Howitzer 88 (FH-88). The plan to develop the country’s very own 155 mm/39-calibre towed gun in 1988 was in response to the low reliability and high cost of servicing the SAF’s existing Israeli-designed and developed guns. By the nineties, the FH-88 became fully operational in the Singapore military, and the success helped CIS create the FH-2000 and Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer 1 (SSPH 1) Primus.

Beat That. (1989)
An advertisement for the FH-88 from a 1989 issue of the International Defense Review.

By then, Singapore’s defence industry had also grown considerably with over 16 companies serving the military in areas such as aerospace, marine and even food. In an effort to rationalise the industry so as to cut waste and better coordinate activities, the Ministry of Defence drew up The Singapore Defence Industries Charter in 1987. This essentially pushed the industry towards commercialisation, which probably explains the genesis of these advertisements published in the monthly military magazine, International Defence Review. In 1989, the Singapore Technologies (ST) group was formed as the umbrella corporation for the many local defence companies including CIS.

Known today as ST Engineering, the country’s sole arms manufacturer was the only firm from Southeast Asian on the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) list of the world’s top 100 defence manufacturers in 2012. According to the institute, the company owned by Temasek Holdings has sold equipment to Indonesia, Chad, Nigeria, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil. Although the multi-billon dollar company refuses to divulge details, it has trumpeted its 2008 success in supplying the designed-in-Singapore Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier (ATTC)¹ to the British army.

We Just Keep Growing (1986)
A CIS advertisement from the November 1986 issue of the International Defense Review.

While Singapore still imports most of its military equipment—the country accounted for 4 per cent of global weapons import and is the fifth-largest buyer in 2012 according to SIPRI—ST Engineering continues to develop equipment tailored to the needs of the country’s defence. Most recently, its marine arm designed and built the Littoral Mission Vessel, the country’s first locally-designed navy vessels. ST Engineering has also diversified beyond defence, bringing its design and engineering capabilities into other sectors of Singapore too. In 2014, its subsidiary Innosparks worked with local industrial design consultancy STUCK to create the Air+ Smart Mask. This was the world’s first protective mask with a microventilator and one of the few made for school children.

This transfer of design knowledge from a military to an everyday context is reminiscent of how American designers Charles and Ray Eames work for the military during the Second World War. By helping develop wooden medical splints and even a pilot seat, they gained the knowledge to apply to their later furniture designs, including the now iconic Lounge Chair Wood. One wonders what parallel examples are there in Singapore’s design history too?

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Note:

  1. There was a dispute that this was designed in Singapore by Swedish defence firm Hagglunds. More at Senang Diri.

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TOMORROW: Design Stories of Our Future

What would a day in Singapore look like come 2065?

10 designers and 10 illustrators from this city present their visions of her future today.

Responding to 10 speculative questions of how we will communicate, connect, dress, eat, learn, live, play, relax, travel and work, these creatives were paired up to discuss and create stories together on one assigned aspect of life in Singapore on its centennial.

Through vignettes written by myself, concepts imagined by the designers, and narratives drawn by the illustrators, we invite you on a journey to discover the possibilities and pitfalls of life in this little red dot tomorrow.


Thanks to BLACK, I got the opportunity to pair up 10 Singapore designers with 10 illustrators to imagine futures for this upcoming SingaPlural 2017 exhibition.

Communicate: Danny Tan & Caleb Tan
Connect: Randy Chan & Lee Xin Li
Dress: Alfie Leong & Teresa Lim
Eat: Kinetic Singapore & Chris Chai
Learn: Joshua Comaroff &  Esther Goh
Live: Tan Cheng Siong & Sonny Liew
Play: Hans Tan & Andre Wee
Relax: Nathan Yong & Ng Xinnie
Travel: STUCK Design &  Dan Wong
Work: forest&whale & Koh Hong Teng

Come by the F1 Pit Building from 7 to 12 March to check out the exhibition. We’re also having a chat with some of the teams on 11 March, sign up here.

Design50: Redesigning Singapore’s Souvenirs (2010s)

This smiley Merlion is one of three designs that STUCK came up with, including a cheeky air-kissing version and a sad-faced one.
This smiley Merlion is one of three designs that STUCK came up with, including a cheeky air-kissing version and a sad-faced one.

It’s a national icon that’s over 50 years old, yet few have seen this side of Singapore’s tourism mascot – a Merlion that looks straight at you.

This mythical creature’s side profile is typically the face of souvenirs from Singapore, but designer Donn Koh found this “stern and so stone-cold” that he gave the half-lion and half-fish a friendly makeover.

Imagine a child’s drawing of a fish with a lion mane. Add on lines for a smiley face, dots for pimples and eyes, and you have the smiley “Merlion Chouchou”. This is just one of three designs, including a cheeky and a sad-faced version, of a cute pillow-like Merlion plushie designed by Koh of industrial design consultancy STUCK.

“This is the first Merlion that looks at you. I think that gives it a bit of a friendly connection,” explains Koh who was also assisted by designer Ng Xin Nie. “It has that combination of innocence, a bit of silly and suddenly its approachable. In some ways, it also feels a bit Hello Kitty-ish because it’s got an unassuming face.”

The Merlion Chouchou is just one of 50 “Souvenirs From Singapore” STUCK designed in celebration of the nation’s golden jubilee. They had been approached by local design label Supermama to produce souvenirs based on the 50 national icons selected by the SG50 campaign.

Read the rest in SG50 Pulse