Singapore designers in spotlight overseas

Merlion-inspired Daruma dolls being made for the second edition of Singapore: Inside Out.
Merlion-inspired Daruma dolls being made for the second edition of Singapore: Inside Out.PHOTO: SUPERMAMA

Singapore icon is the inspiration for traditional Japanese dolls at the travelling show, among other highlights

Bank Gallery, a minimalist-looking exhibition space in the trendy Omotesando district in Tokyo, will be the stage for a cross-country creative collaboration next weekend.

Thirteen Singaporean and Japanese creatives, from disciplines such as design, music, fashion, sound, performing and visual arts, will put on installations and performances for the second edition of Singapore: Inside Out.

The international travelling showcase, which puts Singapore talent in the spotlight, was first held in 2015. It toured Beijing, London and New York and had its final stop on home ground.

About 67,000 people visited the inaugural edition and its partner events through the four cities.

This time around, the show has been specially curated, so that works have a strong appeal to those in the host city. After Tokyo, Sydney will host the next leg from Nov 3 to 5.

The Japanese edition is led by Ms Clara Yee, multi-disciplinary designer and co-founder of creative studio in the wild.

The Singaporean, who was the art director for the 2015 show, says that involving other creatives from the host city helps the show evolve and does not dilute what the Singapore creatives have to offer.

In this year's Tokyo show, Japanese creatives either work closely with their counterparts here or base their work on what the Singaporean creatives have submitted.

Ms Yee, 27, says: "To be part of a global cultural conversation, we need to have a dialogue with others, not just a show-and-tell. There's no competition to mute certain works to maintain a 'Singaporean-ness'.

"Each artist's work is strong. They are experienced professionals who are confident of their place in this narrative."

When Singapore: Inside Out, a show that promises to tantalise all the senses, opens next Friday, visitors will get to see the creatives take on the theme HyperCity.

MindScape, the work of Singaporean sound artist Zul Mahmod, has three large sound domes fitted with speakers suspended from the ceiling.

Visitors can pop their heads into the domes to hear the sounds he recorded around Singapore.

Japanese flower artist plantica listened to the sounds he captured and created a pressed flower plate series titled Each Sound Is A Flower.

Local lifestyle label and gallery shop Supermama teamed up with a Japanese maker to create Merlion- inspired traditional Daruma dolls.

Ms Yee herself is working with Mr Daisuke Yano of Tokyo Lighting Design to put on a piece that plays with water and light.

Due to the language barrier, they worked on the project together by sending each other scanned sketches of what they wanted to show.

Nothing defines Singapore like its food offerings, so many of the partner events are bound to delight foodies.

A highlight: Chef Malcolm Lee, of one-Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant Candlenut, and renowned French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, whose eponymous bakery has outlets in New York, Tokyo and London, have teamed up to create a chilli crab- inspired dessert. It will be sold at Ansel's bakery in Omotesando.

Next up is the Australian show edition, helmed by Mr Randy Chan, principal architect at Zarch Collaboratives. Independent local art collective Vertical Submarine takes on the art director role.

Unfortunately, both shows will not have a homecoming, unlike the last Singapore: Inside Out edition.

Ms Carrie Kwik, executive director of arts, entertainment and tourism concept development at the Singapore Tourism Board, which organises the event, says that this year's event has been "specially curated with each city's audience in mind", though Singaporeans can catch the local creatives and their work at other events here.

She adds: "We are confident that this year's showcase will continue to spark conversations and collaborations for our creative talents, as well as attract those who will be visiting it to check out Singapore's creative scene for themselves."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Merlion in Japan for Inside Out'. Print Edition | Subscribe