THE DE­SIGN MOB

Female (Singapore) - - F-EDIT -

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.”

Dream col­lab­o­ra­tion

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)

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