Changes abound in the second edition of Singapore Design Week, as organisers of various events pull out all the stops for design buffs.
The annual festival devoted to all things design will open next week, packed with more than 60 related events that showcase the cutting-edge work of local and international designers.
Helmed by the DesignSingapore Council, the festival starts on Tuesday and continues till March 22 - a longer run than last year's week-long edition.
The much anticipated festival takes place at various locations around town, including the National Design Centre in Middle Road.
Design hounds can expect to see well- curated exhibitions and product installations and hop on buses that will take them on design trails around the city.
International visitors are also descending on Singapore to check out two trade fairs - Maison&Objet Asia at Marina Bay Sands and the International Furniture Fair Singapore at the Singapore Expo.
A must-see this year is the popular home-grown SingaPlural, which will set up shop at 99 Beach Road, a building which used to house a police station and the Raffles Design Institute.
SingaPlural is organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council and DesignS, a network of eight national design associations and institutes.
Being housed at one location is a change from previous versions of the show - it features installations and talks by mainly local designers - where visitors would walk to various places around town.
Also, for the first time, Maison&Objet Asia will give members of the public access to the trade fair. They can now buy tickets for the last day to check out the colourful booths set up by international brands which carry furniture, accessories and lifestyle items.
With the week chock-a-block with much to see, Life! susses out events to pencil in.
For more details, go to www.designsingapore.org/SDW/Home.aspx
When trade fair Maison&Objet Asia returns for a second season here next week, the casual home decorator will be able to peek inside the influential design show for the first time.
While last year's inaugural show was open only to furniture and design industry members and retail buyers, the last day of the upcoming show is open to the public from noon till 6pm.
Tickets cost $35. The show, which starts on Tuesday and ends on Friday, will take place at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
This is the first time the event, which started in Paris 20 years ago and takes place there in January and September, is open to the public in both countries.
Mr Philippe Brocart, 51, Maison&Objet's managing director, says the decision to open the show to everyone was due in part to requests from exhibitors after last year's show.
Maison&Objet is a well-known design show, which attracts big brands and young designers too, who are looking to snag deals with retail stores to carry their wares. The show is also closely watched by the industry for emerging home and decor trends.
Speaking to Life! on the telephone from Paris, Mr Brocart says: "Companies invest a lot into putting on their booths and they want to show them to the public. Members of the public can also see new trends and companies, which are in Singapore for the first time. The idea is for them to discover new products."
Those who make it to the show on Friday can catch a series of talks, titled Design Is Singapore - the one day of the French fair which pays homage to Singapore's 50th founding year.
Industry stalwarts such as designers Edwin Low from Supermama, a lifestyle concept store, and Patrick Chia, director of the Design Incubation Centre of the National University of Singapore, will share their experiences in the local industry and give their take on the future of design here.
On dedicating a day to the local design industry, Mr Brocart says: "We're proud that we're holding our show here. We want to highlight the good work done here and present the most talented designers Singapore has produced."
The four-day show here is smaller than its French counterpart, which is spread across 130,000 sq m of space at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre, about 30 minutes outside the Paris city centre.
In Singapore, about 320 brands are setting up booths - half of them are exclusive to the show here. As in Paris, exhibitors here are curated by a team assembled by the organiser, Salons Francais Et Internationaux. They are selected for their range, quality, branding and regional sales presence.
About a third of the brands are from Asia, including lighting label Ango from Thailand and accessories label Makaron from Hong Kong.
Singapore companies include design firms Desinere and Tofu Design Studio, and tableware specialist Luzerne.
There are also returning highlights. Architecture power duo Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Neri & Hu Design And Research Office are this year's Designer of the Year, which is given out to a designer or duo who has made a significant impact throughout the preceding year in the design and architecture scene. Besides attending the event, they will give a speech on the first day.
Six young design studios from across Asia will also be represented in The Rising Asian Talents section, showcasing their work from fields such as fashion accessories and textile products. The designers include Taiwanese duo Chen Han-hsi and Tseng Shi-kai of Poetic Lab and Ms Monica Tsang from Hong Kong.
Mr Brocart hopes to repeat the success of last year's inaugural show, which drew about 14,000 visitors. "It was a response that we didn't expect, but we've established our name here. With carefully selected exhibitors and content, we'll put on a good show."
The U Symposium
Hipster fans of international indie reads such as the wildly popular lifestyle magazine Kinfolk will be able to get up close with their editors at The U Symposium, as they share views about the design and publishing world.
Seven foreign editors, including MagCulture's London-based Jeremy Leslie, who has created and designed magazines for 25 years, and Mr Chris Ying, who founded the America-based food and lifestyle journal Lucky Peach, will be in town next Saturday and Sunday for a series of talks at the first-time event.
Its organiser, Hjgher, a Singapore- based creative consultancy, decided to launch the symposium - touted as the first of its kind for the publishing and design industry in Asia - as these magazines have a growing fan base here.
The nine-year-old company also publishes its own niche magazines: Underscore is a lifestyle magazine distributed in more than 150 cities while The U Press is a free quarterly broadsheet about city cultures and creative industries such as fashion and design.
Hjgher's co-founder Justin Long, who is also the editor-in-chief of Underscore and The U Press, says: "The indie magazine scene in Singapore is just starting out, as readers start to look for magazines that reflect their lifestyle.
"Places such as London already have similar conferences for readers to get to know how the magazines got started and how editors create content."
Mr Long will be presenting at the show, together with two other local editors, Theseus Chan, who is behind W_ _K W_ _K, and Pann Lim who runs Rubbish Famzine.
Similar events, popular around the world, include Facing Pages, a biennale on independent magazines in Europe which takes place in Arnhem, Holland.
Tickets to The U Symposium cost $120 for a day and $200 for both days. Only 240 seats are available.
Editors will each have an hour-long presentation - five speakers will present each day - followed by a question-and- answer session. There will be a group forum at the end of the day.
Topics of discussion include magazine design and tips on how to get your magazine to stand out from the crowd with unique content.
For example, Mr Rob Alderson, editor-in-chief of London-based online arts and design publishing platform itsnicethat.com, will explore the relationship between words and visuals.
He says: "I hope to share a little of what we have learnt producing a magazine, which is a constant learning process, and show a few things that we haven't shown before."
The talks, which start at 10am, will be held in the Red Room at The Projector, an indie cinema at Golden Mile Tower in Beach Road.
Those who are unable to get tickets for the talks can still head down to check out The U Assembly, which will have products by local designers, food and an exhibition of magazines, some of which are for purchase. Local and international short clips and films will also play on loop at another spot, The Green Room.
Mr Long says: "It's a chance to ask these editors how they have survived so long in the publishing industry, despite having such indie content."
Go to www.theusymposium.com for details.
Home-grown design festival SingaPlural will stay put in one place at 99 Beach Road this year, instead of having visitors travel to installations around town, which was its style in previous years.
SingaPlural, the anchor event of Singapore Design Week, will be held in the 1930s colonial-style building that used to house the Beach Road Police Station and the Raffles Design Institute.
Now in its fourth edition, it is a public event to complement the International Furniture Fair Singapore, an annual trade event by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and held at the Singapore Expo.
Mr Mark Yong, 36, chairman of SingaPlural and vice-president of SFIC, says past editions were about securing spaces for designers to show their work, but it was tough to manage content across eight to 10 locations.
"At the start, it was also furniture- centric, much like what other cities such as Paris do when they have a major trade show. But SingaPlural has progressed beyond that. Design comes from all areas and not just furniture, and we want to show that this year."
Now, design studio Plus Collaboratives and creative communications agency Govt are co-curating the six-day festival, which starts on Tuesday.
Spread across 14,000 sq m, installations and activities will take place indoors and outdoors. Visitors can also join workshops, sit in on talks or catch performances.
With Process as the theme, participants from fields such as graphic design, urban planning and architecture will show how they develop their products and ideas.
There are six festival pillars to highlight the theme, including Dot Your I's & Cross Your T's: Project X, where designers - In Merry Motion, Miun, Tiffany Loy and wynk:collaborative - worked with laminate specialist Lamitak to use its products in different ways.
For example, Ms Loy created Hundreds And Thousands, an installation of a table and a wall, covered in textured laminates in a collage of sorts.
Other events include design installations, talks and symposiums as well as design tours to give visitors the inside scoop on how products are made.
Interesting works to check out include an installation by Weekend Worker, a design collective which specialises in ceramics. It will show how the group chooses forms to work with, the stages of making ceramics and a repository of damaged works and failed ideas.
Festival director and creative director of Plus Collaboratives Mervin Tan, 33, says: "Designers aren't creating a piece of work just for this event. Some are putting on work that they haven't shown before, rejected pieces or projects which they have been researching for years."
About 45 designers, artist and student groups, and brands such as Little Thoughts Group - a collective of Singapore-based product designers - will put on installations on the ground floor of the now vacant building.
International travel accommodation company Airbnb will also build a replica of a Balinese house at the basketball court and have a display showing properties from four cities.
Visitors will witness acts of creation too. For example, artist Dan Wong from A Good Citizen will draw a mural on the glass walls of a room to illustrate his interpretation of well- known local characters such as the Tissue Paper Auntie.
There are also two pop-up stores: Online retailer Naiise's shop will sell its design-centric wares while Catch, a local women's fashion label, will retail clothes.
If you want to take a break, there are food and beverage options. These include indie coffee store Papa Palheta, which will serve its brews, and The Quarters, which will sell food with a local twist, such as Salted Egg Fries.
Despite the avalanche of design events happening that week, the festival team is not worried about visitors having design fatigue.
Ms Cheryl Sim, 26, co-curator of Plus Collaboratives, says the competition is a good thing as visitors will make informed choices as they check out what is available at each event. "The Singapore design scene keeps growing every year and we see people being very specific about what they would like to see."
About 50,000 people visited SingaPlural last year, a number the furniture industries council is hoping to replicate. Mr Tan says: "There're many things to see and do at this one location. You could spend hours here."
Go to www.singaplural.com for more information and the schedule of talks and events.