VW+BS (Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia)

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES -

OF the de­sign­ers fea­tured here, Sin­ga­porean Voon Wong and Pe­nang-born Benson Saw, the cre­ative sparks be­hind VW+BS, qual­ify as the “old timers” on the global de­sign scene. Their iconic Loop Lamp, man­u­fac­tured by Ital­ian light­ing com­pany Fon­tanaArte, was short­listed for the pres­ti­gious Com­passo d’Oro (the Os­cars of the de­sign world) in 2004.

Over the years, Wong, Saw and their team at VW+BS have con­sis­tently pro­duced thought­ful and strik­ing works, and have also teamed up with de­sign brands like De­code Lon­don, Sin­ga­pore-based Air Di­vi­sion and craft-based com­pa­nies like Royal Se­lan­gor here in Malaysia and Lin’s Ceram­ics Stu­dio in Tai­wan.

With of­fices in Lon­don, Sin­ga­pore and Kuala Lumpur, VW+BS’s im­pres­sive port­fo­lio lists over 250 ar­chi­tec­tural, in­te­rior and prod­uct de­sign projects in Europe, Asia and Aus­tralia. Their re­cent work on the up­per class bar and cabin in­te­rior for Vir­gin At­lantic Air­ways clinched the FX 2012 Prod­uct De­sign of the Year awarded by FX In­ter­na­tional In­te­rior De­sign Awards ( FX mag­a­zine is a leading, global in­te­rior de­sign pub­li­ca­tion for the con­tract in­dus­try).

Not bound by any sort of set-in-stone “look” or style, the stu­dio con­stantly ex­plores the pos­si­bil­i­ties of dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als and pro­cesses in in­no­va­tive and sur­pris­ing ways.

“Ev­ery­thing we do comes from our back­ground. Where we grew up, what we were ex­posed to and ex­pe­ri­enced in­flu­ence our thought pro­cesses and out­looks,” says Kuala Lumpur-based Saw, who stud­ied fur­ni­ture de­sign at the Lon­don’s Royal Col­lege of Art.

How­ever, in their de­signs, VW+BS does not set out with a mis­sion to cre­ate a dis­tinct “South-East Asian look”.

“We don’t think that de­sign needs to have a spe­cific iden­tity, na­tional or cul­tural ref­er­ences,” ex­plains Saw, 40.

Take Set­cast, their collection of bone china table­ware. Launched in 2007, Set­cast was man­u­fac­tured by Asian­era, a bone china man­u­fac­turer in Tang­shan, China. While re­search­ing the project, Saw traced his Teochew an­ces­tor’s his­tory in China and dis­cov­ered how they ex­celled at mak­ing red clay teapots, still highly cov­eted by Chi­nese tea con­nois­seurs to­day.

“Through these ex­plo­rations, we un­der­stand and learn about the con­straints of these ma­te­ri­als and pro­cesses, which then spur ideas for dif­fer­ent projects,” he

ex­plains dur­ing an in­ter­view in KL.

For the Land­scape collection, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Royal Se­lan­gor, the duo fash­ioned sculp­tural, func­tional pewter pieces that res­onate with con­tem­po­rary life­styles. Both Saw and Wong share fond mem­o­ries of grow­ing up with pewter tankards or ac­ces­sories in their homes.

“Ob­jects are de­signed and meant to be used in any con­text not with­stand­ing the iden­tity ref­er­ences. Other­wise, it will end up like sou­venirs that tourists pick up on their va­ca­tions,” Saw sums up. (Web­site:


Founders of Lon­don-based de­sign firm VW+bS, Voon Wong (left) and benson Saw.

Loop Lamp by VW+bS for Ital­ian light­ing brand Fon­tana arte, was nom­i­nated for the pres­ti­gious Com­passo d’oro in 2004. (Orig­i­nat­ing from Italy, the Com­passo is the first and most recog­nised in­dus­trial

de­sign award in­ter­na­tion­ally).

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