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