Edmund Zhang, industrial designer
Zhang was the winner of Wallpaper* magazine’s Handmade Next Generation Singapore Designer for Squeezy, a simple desktop lamp that illuminates with a squeeze.
Craft to me is a physical and intellectual rigour that pushes the boundaries of a particular idea, skill or piece of work. I have been finding different avenues to express myself since young. I remember filling up every space and corner of my school textbooks with doodles and monsters—much to the teacher’s displeasure. I have loved to draw since I was a kid and I still have my collection of self-made comic books, which were heavily inspired by the cartoons that I was watching then. For me ultimately, it has always been about the idea of the work. As long as the idea is interesting, it is more about finding the right material and medium that best communicates it.
When designing, I do not see my works existing as inanimate objects, but beings that are alive with their own character and stories to tell. All of my works are equally memorable and satisfying to me—I do not have favourites. Singapore is a pragmatic country and design here has rapidly shifted into a business-oriented and profit-driven approach. We are in a constant state of change. This is something that we have to get comfortable with and embrace so that we can always stay relevant to what is happening around us and not exist within our own bubble. I feel that my work has not reached that level of nation-wide impact yet. For now, I just hope that my works can offer people a slightly more refreshing perspective of looking at things around them.
I am interested in the challenge of humanising technology—to make it a little more satisfying to use—as it gradually assimilates into every facet of our lives, whether we like it or not. I enjoy the speed and convenience afforded by digital manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, and have incorporated them in a couple of my projects. Tangible craft does matter because we are sensorial creatures. I believe that the experience of interacting with something through our physical senses beyond a mere screen is always relevant and extremely powerful.
As with any other things in life that are worth pursuing, design and creative work should always be seen as a marathon, not a sprint. Work hard, be patient and try to enjoy the scenery while you are at it. I hope that the design industry in Singapore can continue to grow in strength, with locals being able to be more appreciative of good design. What’s next for me? I am working on a design installation project with my friends. We are utilising plastic waste found near water sources, such as beaches and reservoirs, to eventually create a series of sculptural seascapes.
Edmund Zhang’s Squeezy lamp increases in brightness the more it’s squeezed.