Scarves with history

Singapore label Matter's co-founders Yvonne Suner (main picture, left) and Ho Renyung (right); traditional wood-printing techniques (left); and the limited- edition scarves (left below) of Matter & Co.
Singapore label Matter's co-founders Yvonne Suner (above, left) and Ho Renyung (above, right). PHOTOS: K.H. YEO, HO RENYUNG, GALLERY & CO
Singapore label Matter's co-founders Yvonne Suner (main picture, left) and Ho Renyung (right); traditional wood-printing techniques (left); and the limited- edition scarves (left below) of Matter & Co.
Traditional wood-printing techniques (above).
Singapore label Matter's co-founders Yvonne Suner (main picture, left) and Ho Renyung (right); traditional wood-printing techniques (left); and the limited- edition scarves (left below) of Matter & Co.
The limited- edition scarves (above) of Matter & Co.

MATTER X FOREIGN POLICY DESIGN GROUP

Home-grown label Matter, known for its fun and functional pants with artisan prints, has always had a collaborative approach to design.

Since the label started in May 2014, co-founders Ho Renyung and Yvonne Suner have done collaborations such as a collection of scarves made with local textile company Fictive Fingers in 2014; and Then&There, a collection of pants and scarves designed by four designers from the region last year.

Through Then&There, Matter got to know branding agency Foreign Policy Design Group - its creative director Yu Yah-Leng was one of the designers who worked on that collection.

So when Matter was asked to work with Foreign Policy Design Group again for a collection for National Gallery Singapore's retail and F&B enclave Gallery & Co, the label did not hesitate to take up the offer.

Ms Yu and her husband Arthur Chin, also a creative director at Foreign Policy Design Group, are co-founders of Gallery & Co, along with hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng and Mr Alwyn Chong, managing director of cosmetics and fragrance distributor Luxasia.

Called Matter & Co, the collaboration comprises three limited- edition scarf designs inspired by South-east Asian artworks displayed at the National Gallery Singapore. About 100 pieces of each design were printed.

Two scarves were inspired by The Ceiling, a collage by Filipino artist Roberto Chabet: En Bloc features blue and black cut-out shapes in a wave-like fashion, while Circle And Line highlights simple shapes and strokes with grey lines and circles which mimic pencil on paper.

The third scarf, Ikan-Ikan (a Malay word that translates to fishes), features fish popping their heads out of the water as they swim upstream. It was inspired by the fishing villages of South-east Asia.

The scarves were designed by Foreign Policy Design Group and produced by Matter's artisan partner from India, AK Textiles. They are priced at $149 each and will be sold exclusively at Gallery & Co from next Thursday.

Matter co-founder Ms Ho, 30, says that part of her label's mission is to make textile artisanship sustainable. "We want rural artisans to be able to practise their craft in the modern economy and future."

For that to happen, the label creates designer artisan collaborations to elevate the craft into something relevant to the consumer rather than just a museum piece.

For this collection, due to the simplicity and formation of the designs, the artisans had to modify the traditional method of block- printing to accommodate the new designs. Ms Ho says: "Traditional block-printing is very intricate and evenly spaced. The block size is standard. For these designs, the block sizes were all different. So the artisans had to derive new ways of printing to achieve the same consistency."

For the collection's launch, Gallery & Co will hold a series of events and workshops, including a demonstration of traditional woodblock- printing techniques and a woodblock-printing workshop.


Melissa Heng


• For more information on the events, go to Gallery & Co's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GalleryandCo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Scarves with history'. Print Edition | Subscribe