SingaPlural and the creative design process. An interview with Mark Yong

Run by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) since 2012, ‘SingaPlural’ was conceived for the purpose of creating a common platform for bringing designers closer to industry, as a forum for the various sectors of design: from architecture and urban planning to landscape design, interior design, furnishings, graphics, fashion and advertising.

The event has indeed proved to be a platform for creative talents in the design industry, enabling them to express their ideas and make themselves known through installations, exhibition spaces, symposiums and many other associated activities.

Running alongside the International Furniture Fair Singapore 2015/32nd ASEAN Furniture Show, The Décor Show 2015 and Hospitality 360º, for the first time this year the event was held in a single location to enable visitors during design week to form an organic and overall idea of the value and variety of projects being presented. A place for meetings, discussions and entertainment, a venue in which to follow the evolution of installations which undergo a process of transformation as they interact constantly with the public.

The theme of this edition was “the process”, meaning the discovery of what lies behind a finished product, the story of the idea from which it stems and evolves.  Mark Yong Chairman of SingaPlural will tell us about the aims of this edition.

Now that it has reached its fourth edition, what objectives has SingaPlural set itself?

SingaPlural was created with the aim of extending the offering of the IFFS trade fair, by setting up a sort of collateral event, that is a series of activities external to the fair, as takes place during the Salone del Mobile.  With this event, we wanted to build a platform to allow designers from the Asian area to freely express their creative ideas to an international public.

For the first three editions, we presented installations and organized meetings and events in various different locations of the city.  We realized, however, that visitors often failed to see everything that took place downtown and missed some of the most important proposals of the event. For the first time this year we have decided to group all of the activities in one location, an old police station which has become the design week centre in Singapore. In this way, we have chosen to offer visitors a more homogenous and global view of what is goingon in the ambit of design in the Asian region. The venue is visited all day long by architects, designers, company representatives, students and visitors of all ages, who have been able to get together and interact in a truly stimulating atmosphere.

This year’s theme was “the process”. Can you tell us why?

For this edition the festival curators have come up with the idea that it would be particularly interesting to show the process leading up to the creation of a product. What you normally see in design is the end product. But this represents just 5% of the actual product life. Behind its production, there are numerous stories, intuitions, experiements…. By introducing this theme, we wanted our designers to explain and show us the creative process – from the initial concept to production –  leading up to the definition of their project. Many installations were put up here, day after day, and the visitors were able to follow the development process. It was a very inspiring work.

Where do the designers taking part in SingaPlural come from?

They mostly come from Singapore, followed by the other eastern countries: Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Korea…

Can design be used to support industry?

In the past, Singapore simply used to produce or reproduce goods for brands that were more or less well known. Today, however, it is becoming increasingly costly to produce in this region and so it has become necessary to invest in our own intellectual property. Investing in design means just this: it is an investment in intellectual property to differentiate and add value to what we produce.

What will SingaPlural be focusing on in the future?

SingaPlural is based on the development of six great themes: projects, installations, events, symposiums, tours and recognitions. We wish to continue to work on these themes, by strengthening and perfecting them so that the event will become increasingly important as a platform and meeting place not only for Asian design but for international designers too.