Style meets tech

Coast by Opera al­lows iPad users to dress up their web browsers with wall­pa­pers cre­ated by eight Sin­ga­porean fash­ion de­sign­ers.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - STYLE - By BERVIN CHEONG star2@thes­tar.com.my

FOR most of us, it isn’t so much a Her­culean task putting to­gether stand­out out­fits to wear on any one day. This is in con­sid­er­a­tion of the wealth of op­tions we have with re­gards to de­signer la­bels. Styling up dig­i­tal as­pects of our ev­ery­day lives how­ever, can be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult. Take web browsers for ex­am­ple, or more specif­i­cally, the ones for mo­bile de­vices like iPads – how do you make them look and feel chic?

One web browser de­vel­oper has now re­leased de­signer wall­pa­pers. Avail­able in a choice of eight dis­tinct de­signs, th­ese al­low iPad users to em­brace a style state­ment while they are surf­ing the In­ter­net on the go.

The new Coast by Opera (launched in Septem­ber) worked with dif­fer­ent fash­ion de­sign­ers from Sin­ga­pore, and the re­sult was a dis­tinct col­lec­tion of web browser “cloth­ing” that the style-con­scious, as well as dig­i­tal-savvy, can cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate.

When spo­ken to in Sin­ga­pore, Huib Klein­hout, the head of the Coast project at Opera Soft­ware, said: “Fash­ion to me is how dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als ex­press them­selves. Like how they might browse dif­fer­ent sites or use dif­fer­ent apps, they also clothe them­selves dif­fer­ently.

“Fash­ion and soft­ware de­sign can work well to­gether, but it’s just that th­ese two have never met be­fore – or rather, they don’t usu­ally meet. We from Opera are just glad to be a part of the oc­ca­sion where they ac­tu­ally do.”

The col­lab­o­ra­tion was made pos­si­ble by this year’s #Dig­i­talFash­ionWeek Sin­ga­pore. Opera Soft­ware was one of the tech­nol­ogy part­ners for the event. The de­sign­ers who worked with Opera un­veiled their Spring/ Sum­mer 2014 col­lec­tions dur­ing that time too.

L’ile aux Ashby, Zenchi, 72 Small­dive, Cos­set Inc, Kae Hana, Lion Earl, Mandy Wu and Mash-Up, all cre­ated cus­tom wall­pa­pers for Coast by Opera, based on their up­com­ing col­lec­tions.

Th­ese dif­fer­ent la­bels rep­re­sent a com­pre­hen­sive slice of the Sin­ga­porean fash­ion in­dus­try. From wom­enswear to menswear as well as ac­ces­sories, each of the de­sign­ers in­jected an in­di­vid­ual sense of aes­thetic into their dig­i­tal cre­ations.

“When I first saw the wall­pa­pers, I was amazed. I re­alised that there are cer­tain qual­i­ties the soft­ware de­sign in­dus­try may be lack­ing in, and it is ex­actly this that fash­ion can com­ple­ment,” com­mented Klein­hout.

Coast by Opera is ob­served to be an in­tu­itive and el­e­gant browser, tai­lor-made for use on iPads. It fea­tures next to none of the usual user in­ter­face el­e­ments ex­cept for a “home” but­ton at the bot­tom of the screen and a smaller but­ton in the bot­tom right cor­ner to show users the sites they have re­cently vis­ited.

Left or right swipes re­place the usual back and for­ward but­tons on to­day’s desk­top and mo­bile browsers. Tak­ing the whole mini- mal­is­tic de­sign ap­proach fur­ther, its home screen only houses icons for your most-vis­ited sites and a search bar.

Ac­cord­ing to Klein­hout, it has al­ways been dif­fi­cult to main­tain that bal­ance be­tween aes­thet­ics and func­tion­al­ity when it comes to de­sign­ing some­thing like Coast by Opera. How­ever, keep­ing it sim­ple has ul­ti­mately worked.

He ex­plained: “Even if you could put in all the ‘bells and whis­tles’ in terms of func­tion­al­ity, it re­ally sits in the way of what the gen­eral pub­lic want. At the end of the day, a sim­ple, easy to use, yet beau­ti­ful de­sign in­ter­face stands out.”

The whole en­deav­our was as much a nov­elty for the fash­ion de­sign­ers as well. Siti Farhana Ka­marud­din, the cre­ative force be­hind the Kae Hana la­bel, said that the de­sign process was a to­tally new thing for her.

“This is the first time that I have ac­tu­ally cre­ated a print for a dig­i­tal prod­uct. Thank­fully, the Opera team gave me very spe­cific in­struc­tions on how to do it and how to get it right.”

As a de­signer, Siti is very much a print-ori- ented per­son. She has an ob­ses­sion for ori­en­tal de­sign el­e­ments too. The wall­pa­per she cre­ated for Coast by Opera de­picts mo­tifs of a koi fish, phoenix and Ja­panese waves.

“I try to keep my prints mod­ern. When peo­ple think of ori­en­tal, they tend to draw the as­so­ci­a­tion of it with any­thing old or dated. They never see it as a young thing. So that’s what I’m try­ing to do – make it young.”

“I de­sign my own prints, and I print my own fab­rics as well. You will be able to see two dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the wall­pa­per print ap­pear­ing in my ac­tual fash­ion col­lec­tion too,” she added.

Coast by Opera is free for down­load on the Ap­ple App Store. For a look at the other de­signer wall­pa­pers avail­able, visit coast­by­opera.com/ dig­i­talfash­ionweek.

Huib Klein­hout, the head of the coast project at Opera Soft­ware (left), and Siti Farhana Ka­marud­din, the cre­ative force be­hind the Kae Hana la­bel.

Pimp up your screen: coast by Opera al­lows users to dress up their web browser on their iPads with wall­pa­pers by SIn­ga­porean de­sign­ers.

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