TASTE MAKER

Royal Se­lan­gor presents its lat­est col­lec­tion, Vapour, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with renowned de­signer Nathan Yong. Cai Mei Khoo vis­its the Lion City for the un­veil­ing, and dis­cusses crafts­man­ship with the Sin­ga­porean tal­ent and the brand’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Y

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Talking Points -

What do you like best about de­sign? NY: De­sign is great fun be­cause you get to think about struc­tural prob­lems and come up with a so­lu­tion. There’s only one truth in beauty and a good de­signer should be able to trans­late that from 2D into 3D. Let’s talk about this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Royal Se­lan­gor. Nathan Yong: I tried to de­sign a col­lec­tion that is mod­ern and dec­o­ra­tive. Yet I sel­dom do things that are purely dec­o­ra­tive. I chose a pat­tern that’s mod­ern and fits into what Royal Se­lan­gor can do with pewter. It’s about tex­ture and push­ing the skill set of the fac­tory. It’s my first col­lec­tion for them, aside from the tro­phy I de­signed for the brand for the Sin­ga­pore F1 Grand Prix. Yoon Li: Peo­ple are at­tracted to beau­ti­ful things. Nathan’s job is to cre­ate beau­ti­ful things and we are here to make it hap­pen. NY: A de­signer, with­out the right part­ner, can only dream. Work with the wrong part­ner and they won’t re­ally do your de­signs jus­tice. With a good part­ner, some­times your prod­uct can look even bet­ter, and that’s ex­catly why part­ner­ing with the right brand is so im­por­tant. What was the in­spi­ra­tion for this par­tic­u­lar col­lec­tion? YL: We’ve been in Sin­ga­pore for al­most 50 years now and we have a range called Sin­ga­pore Scenes, which was due for an up­date. I wanted to move away from the kitschy, more touristy items to some­thing more cere­bral, to evoke emo­tion. NY: When I think of Royal Se­lan­gor, I know what pat­terns they have in their col­lec­tions. Some are

I think it came out very well. It’s a cliché but I feel peo­ple want an el­e­ment of sur­prise and in the tea caddy, the ball of wood or mar­ble in­side lends that el­e­ment of sur­prise. The curves in the cap make the ball look like it’s float­ing. Your re­cur­ring sources of in­spi­ra­tion? NY: It’s about ab­sorb­ing things, be­ing pas­sion­ate, cu­ri­ous about life. I don’t have a stan­dard an­swer when I de­sign. It’s like 4D – the balls are dif­fer­ent ideas. Some­times you hit the mark, some­times you don’t. Do you re­mem­ber what it was that first got you in­ter­ested in de­sign? NY: In my school days, I was shop­ping for a Dis­c­man but couldn’t find one that was beau­ti­ful. I didn’t know who cre­ated th­ese prod­ucts then and later found out about prod­uct de­sign cour­ses. In­dus­trial de­sign was a new course of­fered in Sin­ga­pore back in the day. You won a Red Dot Con­cept De­sign award for a mass-pro­duced cof­fin you de­signed. Tell us more about that. NY: That was quite som­bre. I de­signed that dur­ing the more her­itage-based, some are more craft-like. I wanted to rein­vent a pat­tern that can be used in most ob­jects. The lines are very po­etic – they start to dis­si­pate fur­ther down the ob­ject. They’re also func­tional as they help in grip­ping the con­tainer. Be­sides the sig­na­ture house pewter, what were the ma­te­ri­als cho­sen for Vapour? YL: When­ever we work with a de­signer, we pro­vide a brief and let them know what ma­te­ri­als to work with. It was ac­tu­ally Nathan who pro­posed to use Vo­lakas and wal­nut. NY: All three ma­te­ri­als cho­sen have dif­fer­ent types of tex­ture. Resin is prob­a­bly more mas­cu­line, while the mar­ble and wal­nut have a sort of her­itage feel to them. In my work, I try to in­clude in­spi­ra­tion from the past. Pewter evokes a sense of old­ness, and is also very in­dus­trial-look­ing so I tried to bal­ance that with ma­te­ri­als that are more min­i­mal­is­tic such as mar­ble and wood. The tea caddy with Vo­lakas is unique. Are you happy with the way it turned out? NY: time of the 2004 tsunami, in a place where there were no proper burial ma­te­ri­als. The cof­fin I de­signed is ac­tu­ally easy to as­sem­ble – a night pro­duc­tion can pro­duce 100 pieces – and they are stack­able for ease of trans­porta­tion. It’s all white with curved edges. I would like to be buried in one. Is that one of the more in­ter­est­ing de­signs you’ve worked on? NY: Well, I also de­signed a por­ta­ble toi­let. It’s not glamorous but ad­dresses a very real need. It’s meant for peo­ple who don’t have easy ac­cess to wa­ter. I like de­sign that’s not just part of a con­sumer sys­tem but that helps peo­ple, too. If you weren’t an in­dus­trial de­signer, you would be ... NY: I would prob­a­bly be work­ing in a zoo. But I’ve al­ways wanted to be a de­signer, since I was 16. I said then that I wanted to be as fa­mous as Philippe Starck. I’m quite happy with how far I’ve come. What has been a high­light of your de­sign ca­reer thus far? YL: Work­ing with Royal Se­lan­gor [ laughs]. NY: The first time I sold to Ligne Roset. All my life I’d wanted to de­sign for an in­ter­na­tional brand. That was about six years ago and some­thing I can now check off my list. Sin­ga­pore F1 Grand Prix was pretty ex­cit­ing for me, too. I was very happy when Yoon Li called me say­ing, “Let’s sub­mit the de­sign for the tro­phy.” And our de­sign was se­lected. The ul­ti­mate thing you want to de­sign? NY: A car. There are too many ugly cars out there with the wrong lines and pro­por­tion. I don’t get it. Where do you think de­sign is head­ing? NY: De­sign is every­where in our lives right now. I think peo­ple have dif­fer­ent views of how they want to con­sume, of how they live their lives. They are now more into ob­jects that have a story to tell. YL: I agree with Nathan. If we can cu­rate a story that’s tight enough, for peo­ple to ap­pre­ci­ate good de­sign, that’s the next step for us. A few years ago, there was that huge DIY move­ment but peo­ple are start­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the finer things in life, in­vest­ing in heir­looms, things that they can pass on to the next gen­er­a­tion. Hope­fully, we can be part of that move­ment. Priced from RM280, the Vapour col­lec­tion is avail­able at all Royal Se­lan­gor re­tail stores and au­tho­rised deal­ers, as well as on­line at www.roy­alse­lan­gor.com.

Nathan Yong with his col­lec­tion for Royal Se­lan­gor

Yong Yoon Li with Nathan Yong

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