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Herworld (Singapore) - - FEATURE -

OLIVIA LEE ON HER STU­DIO’S KEY WORKS AND AES­THET­ICS

Doll House (1994) “I cre­ated this doll’s house

when I was nine. I had a lit­tle plas­tic suit­case full of knick-knacks – old springs, bot­tle caps and scraps of cloth I had col­lected. I called it my in­ven­tor’s box. The doll’s house came to­gether when I stacked up two juice car­tons and cov­ered them in pa­per. I’d spend my week­ends and af­ter-school hours think­ing of what to put in it next and col­lect­ing the right items for it.” Icon Mag­a­zine (2008) “When I grad­u­ated from Cen­tral Saint Martins in 2008, the sketches from my grad­u­a­tion project caught the eye of Lon­don-based de­sign mag­a­zine Icon. My fel­low stu­dents and I had wor­shipped the mag­a­zine and ea­gerly pored over each is­sue for sig­nif­i­cant news in the de­sign world. So I was ut­terly floored when they in­vited me – a fresh grad­u­ate – to be­come a con­trib­u­tor, cre­at­ing satir­i­cal car­toon com­men­tary about the de­sign world, akin to po­lit­i­cal car­toons.” Float (2014) “Float (cof­fee ta­ble) was one of the first projects I got in­volved in when I quit my full-time job to es­tab­lish my own de­sign stu­dio. I was rent­ing a small desk in a friend’s shop (Su­per­mama) when Ja­pa­nese cu­ra­tor/ de­sign ed­i­tor Yoichi Naka­muta came by, ask­ing for me by name. He was putting to­gether a show­case of Sin­ga­pore de­sign tal­ent and com­mis­sion­ing new work for his new ven­ture.” Majesty of Na­ture – Te­masek Hold­ings (2014) “I was able to show­case my first love – draw­ing and il­lus­tra­tion – as well as demon­strate my stu­dio’s abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate com­plex ideas through poetic and lyri­cal im­agery. At first glance, the col­lec­tion reads like a minia­ture vi­gnette of beloved places in Sin­ga­pore. As you look closer, you see that each ce­ramic il­lus­tra­tion is a snap­shot of the peo­ple, places, ac­tiv­i­ties, plants and an­i­mals at a par­tic­u­lar des­ti­na­tion. On even closer in­spec­tion, hid­den amid the dense im­agery is a homage to the com­pa­nies and in­dus­tries in the Te­masek Hold­ings port­fo­lio.” The Marvel­lous Mar­ble Fac­tory (2015) “This is one of my favourite projects be­cause it was done with a sense of free­dom, glee and reck­less aban­don. The project started with fab­ri­cat­ing mar­ble con­fec­tionery, but as it evolved, the con­cept ex­panded into a mul­ti­sen­sory satir­i­cal per­for­mance art, con­cept store and de­sign in­stal­la­tion hy­brid. It rep­re­sented the best of many things I wanted to do with my stu­dio.” In­stru­ments of Beauty – The Al­chemists (2015) “The ex­hi­bi­tions held at La Tri­en­nale di Mi­lano are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dur­ing Salone del Mo­bile week. In 2015, I was in­volved in The Al­chemists ex­hi­bi­tion as I was se­lected to par­tic­i­pate in a Sin­ga­pore group show, and I pre­sented a set of brass in­stru­ments based on the golden ra­tio – a math­e­mat­i­cal prin­ci­ple linked to ideal pro­por­tions and aes­thetic ap­peal. The col­lec­tion was a clear sig­nalling of my stu­dio’s val­ues, which cel­e­brate equally sci­ence and the arts, rea­son and mys­ti­cism, the ra­tio­nal and the ideal.” The Athena Col­lec­tion – Mi­lan De­sign Week 2017 “This col­lec­tion is very im­por­tant as it was the first col­lec­tion I pre­sented at Salone del Mo­bile.Mi­lano (part of Mi­lan De­sign Week) in my own stu­dio’s ca­pac­ity. It was a cul­mi­na­tion of my stu­dio’s ideas and val­ues. So it was im­por­tant that the 10-piece col­lec­tion should demon­strate not only my com­pe­tence as a for­ward­think­ing in­dus­trial de­signer, but also show­case my per­son­al­ity and unique per­spec­tive on the tra­jec­tory of de­sign. In a highly com­pet­i­tive arena like Mi­lan De­sign Week, I had to be at peace with the fact that I could put forth my best work and still be com­pletely ig­nored by both the in­ter­na­tional press and my in­tended au­di­ence. That’s why I was over­whelmed by the unan­i­mously pos­i­tive re­sponse. And for my works which formed part of the Salone Satel­lite sec­tion of the fair, I was named by Dezeen as one of the top 10 emerg­ing de­sign­ers to watch.” Books of Life – Bynd Ar­ti­san (2017) “I love this project a lot be­cause it was a labour of love and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with a fe­male en­tre­pre­neur I ad­mire greatly. Win­nie Chan, co-founder of Bynd Ar­ti­san, came to know of my work through my Marvel­lous Mar­ble Fac­tory in­stal­la­tion, and we be­gan a con­ver­sa­tion that evolved into a col­lec­tion of leather ob­jects that cel­e­brates fem­i­nin­ity and the legacy of craft in Win­nie’s fam­ily busi­ness. I was very pleased to work with a founder who en­joyed the po­etry as much as the prag­ma­tism of my ap­proach.” Mu­seum of Won­ders – Her­mes (2017) “Her­mes is syn­ony­mous with ex­quis­ite savoir faire, qual­ity, light­ness and au­then­tic­ity. It was a dream come true to find the doors of this lux­ury house open to me, with an in­vi­ta­tion to work in an al­most carte blanche man­ner on cre­at­ing a fan­tasy world that could be shared with its pa­trons.” The Se­cret to Longevity – Wall­pa­per Hand­made 2018 “Wall­pa­per Hand­made is recog­nised as a best-in-class show­case for de­sign­ers, ar­chi­tects and man­u­fac­tur­ers. Par­tic­i­pa­tion is by in­vite only, and in 2018, my stu­dio was asked to con­trib­ute. In this dream project with a Swiss-based lux­ury ve­neer com­pany, I cre­ated a wall-di­vider and ac­ces­sories us­ing ex­otic ma­te­ri­als such as stingray leather, guinea fowl feath­ers and mother-ofpearl shells. The themes of well­ness ref­er­enced both East­ern and Western prac­tices. It was very im­por­tant that this piece of work should be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of my ex­pe­ri­ences in both Asia and Europe.”

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