A quick look at the International Furniture Fair Singapore 2015/32nd Asean Furniture Show and SingaPlural 2015 design events across the Causeway.

FROM an overhead illuminated installation and detailed floral creations made from laser-cut laminates to a showcase of rising Asian designers, the recent International Furniture Fair Singapore 2015/32nd Asean Furniture Show and SingaPlural 2015 events were successful on many levels.

Held at the Singapore Expo from March 13-16, the furniture fair ran concurrently with The Décor Show and Hospitality 360°. The three design shows saw a wide array of furniture and interior decor brands displaying their best products.

For the first time, The Decor Show was chosen by EU Business Avenues, a business support programme for Europe-based SMEs, as a platform for a debut trade mission into South-East Asia, with 39 companies from 15 European Union countries participating.

“This year, there was a 20% increase in European brands. Asia is a growing market and (the fair) is a good platform for European companies to capture the Asian market,” said Ernie Koh, Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) president and fair chairman, during an interview after the opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Asian Star Showcase featured 20 young, emerging designers from various Asian countries with notable creations ranging from innovative rattan furniture to geometrical polypropylene lamps. (See Rising design star, left, on the first Malaysian to be invited to take part in this showcase.)

“In today’s business environment, designers should not only stick purely to design. Designers have to learn the business aspect as well. The Asian Star showcase helps with this, offering a platform to exhibit products. European companies who want to come into Asia but don’t know how can link up with these Asian designers to create or adapt their products to penetrate local markets,” said Koh. 

Walking through the expo halls, the buzz of creativity was evident.

Hard to miss was a unique light installation using innovative printed lighting technology by Singaporean Kenny Hong from 11H called The Cloud, located above the Asian showcase area; it was inspired by a passage from the book of Exodus in the Bible. 

Tan’s kinetic sculpture Breeze emulated the movement of gentle winds and aims to calm the busy minds and lives of city dwellers.

And Breeze, a kinetic sculpture by Singaporean Andre Tan (XOPO Design) at the entrance of Hall 1, emulated the movement of gentle winds and was aimed at calming the busy minds and lives of city dwellers.

For the first time, the fair offered a thematic showcase; curated by George Soo of Singapore design company FLIQ, it comprised an experiential space featuring selected pieces from the crème-de-la-crème exhibitors, providing a teaser of sorts of each company’s signature designs and philosophy.

Another highlight was Future Code, a retrospective showcase of the fair’s Furniture Design Award curated by Thai designer Anon Pairot; it was a means of recognising the award’s success by profiling the journey of past finalists and jurors.

Over at 99 Beach Road, the venue for the SingaPlural 2015 show, different types of events went on.

In its fourth edition, SingaPlural was held from March 10-15 and featured the top design elements from various creative sectors of advertising, architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture, as well as interior, furniture, graphic, and fashion design. 

Organised by the SFIC, the name “SingaPlural” is derived from the words “Singular” and “Plural”, and was conceived from the need to create a bridge between designers and the industry.

SingaPlural 2015 is the anchor event of Singapore Design Week, a project by DesignSingapore Council. For the first time, local curators GOVT, an ad agency, and PLUS Collaboratives, a design thinking studio, were roped in.

Themed “Process”, the event’s activities were centred on one location.

“Ninety-nine Beach Road used to be an old central police station built in 1931. One location makes it very accessible, and you can really immerse yourself and experience the whole theme by walking through the different installations, attending the talks, and so on,” said Mark Yong, SingaPlural chairman and SFIC vice-president.

Hongs unique light installation, The Cloud, which uses innovative printed lighting technology.

Why “Process”? 

“When we look at a product or service, it’s in the final few percent of its life, but a lot of sweat and tears have gone into the whole process.

“So we want to unveil the secrets behind creation, share the thoughts and struggles designers have and go through in creating a product,” explained Yong.

One of the highlights was Project X: A laminate company was paired with four different designers who interpreted laminate materials in different ways and turned them into artistic creations. 

An eye-catching display was presented by Noreen Loh Hui Miun, or Miun, who created lovely, detailed floral arrangements using laser-cut laminate materials combined with dried, real flowers and plants.

Originally from Ipoh, Loh went to Singapore when she was 19 to work in a shipping company. She then quit to become a self-taught florist in 2008.

This is the first such project for her, and she was happy to note that her designs generated much interest during the event. 

“I studied the anatomy of the flowers closely before recreating them with the laminate materials,” said Loh, 33, who also writes backwards, something she started doing when young as she didn’t feel comfortable when other people read her personal notes.

Spread out over 99 Beach Road were 60 unique design installations created by designers, manufacturers, builders and design schools alike.

One of them were oversized, hanging bird cages into which people could enter to experience what it is like being in a cage and confined. The objective of the designer was to create empathy for others and to “make the world a better place”.