THE DESIGN MOB
Besides possessing the same eye for design (quirky, contemporary furniture by the likes of Antoine Lesur and Faye Toogood), the arts, and food (they share a Whatsapp chat group called “Hokkien Mee Posse”), these guys bond over their wardrobe tastes. It’s apparent in the way they turn up at industry events like the ultimate creative pack, often dressed in brands such as Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto – and lots of black and white. Each, however, comes from a different discipline.
Dong is, of course, the actress/TV presenter/jazz singer who at press time had just made headlines for getting selected into Jay Chou’s team on the second season of Sing! China, while Ho – Dong’s husband – is in theatre. Leong and Rafiq are the design gurus – the former in spatial and interiors (he’s behind the highly Instagrammed lobby of The Projector); the latter, branding and graphics. (Both also share an office at Golden Mile Complex, which was where this photo was taken.) Then there’s Lim, whose dreamy, abstract landscape images have caught the eye of some of Singapore’s top trendsetters – he’s the official lensman for The Lo & Behold Group’s Warehouse Hotel and Odette; as well as Gallery & Co. and Australian restaurant Whitegrass.
Such complementary diversity sure comes in handy. Rafiq has designed an album cover for Dong’s fun “alternative Christmas” band Naughty Noor Nice, while Leong was responsible for the Wes Andersonhued decor of Dong and Ho’s home. The camaraderie extends to their work projects – when Leong’s studio Wynk Collaborative was designing the chic South Buona Vista cafe Paddy Hills, he roped Rafiq in to help do the branding. Meanwhile, Lim, as resident photographer, often gets asked to play documenter.
A genuine friendship, people say, can be a motivational force. Says Rafiq: “Seeing how passionate everyone in the posse is with their craft pushes me to improve my own practice.” (P.S. All swear by the Hokkien noodles at Whampoa Market.)
How the friendship started
JD: “We all met through the lifestyle and fashion forum called Superfuture, where we used to post daily WAYWT (What Are You Wearing Today) photos. Mind you, this was like a decade ago, when OOTDs weren’t even a thing.”
ZH: “I think it started in 2010 when we were all in freelance wonderland. Hokkien mee started becoming a thing, I think, because it was unilaterally loved by all and also available late at night – we all kept ungodly freelancer hours.”
On their creative chemistry
RM: “They’re my sounding board to bounce off ideas and concepts. It’s refreshing to hear comments from friends who aren’t from the same discipline – it prevents me from being in an echo chamber.”
JD: “We’ve been helping each other out in different ways, but mostly – rather than work directly with one another – we allow our social circles to crosspollinate and end up introducing the others to collaborators from our own fields. We’re not possessive or needy, and there is never an obligation to involve each other in projects.”
ZH: “(Together) we’re able to do laundry that’s exclusively in black or white for a whole year.”
RM: “Producing a multi-sensory ensemble piece showcasing Joanna’s vocals, with Zach leading the theatre portion, Jovian’s artworks to create the visual landscape, and Kit creating the site-specific space.”
From left: Leong Hon Kit, JoanNa Dong (JD), Rafiq Mohamad (RM), Jovian Lim, and Zachary Ho (ZH)