Naming an exhibition in an Italian city Alamak! is bound to draw curious people wanting to know what the Asian exclamation means. It’s a clever move by the curators who put this showcase together.
Alamak! is part of the ongoing XXI Triennale International Exhibition 2016 in Milan, Italy, and was curated according to the theme “21st Century. Design After Design”. It features 12 top design talents from across Asia who serve as ambassadors to promote a better understanding of what design in Asia represents.
“The Malaysian word alamak suggests an element of unexpected discovery and surprise. That is key to what we hope to achieve with the exhibition and how we ultimately wish the show could change [in terms of] the standard perception of what design in Asia is, when seen from the West,” says Timothy Power, co-curator along with Yoichi Nakamuta, in an e-mail interview.
“Alamak!’s main goal is to expose the hidden side of design in Asia, and Asian design from a different point of view, aimed at surprise rather than appeasing expectations. Simply stated, design in Asia, from Asian designers.
“But above that, Alamak! aims to expose Asian regionalism, Asian creativity, a sense of pride in Asian traditions, a knowledge of international ‘artistic codification’ and also a little bit of humour and lightness, despite some very serious artistic sophistication inherent in many of the works,” Power explains.
Theo Theodorou, project director, in another e-mail interview says Alamak! represents ideas rooted in the knowledge and tradition of craft and design that go back many centuries.
“The choice of the participants in the Alamak! project, whether they be designers, artists, architects or musicians, are, we feel, ‘modern’ voices from Asia helping to stem the loss of ancient skills that define their respective cultures,” says Theodorou.
Here’s a sample of the 12 designers’ works, which will be on exhibit at the XXI Triennale International Exhibition in Milan until Sept 12. For more information, go to alamakproject.com.
One of India’s leading product designers, Gupta founded Studio Wrap in 2006 to fill the void of “internationally-relevant product and interior design that explores the potential of luxury Indian handicraft”.
The Masters in Design holder from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London has received accolades that include the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur in 2007 and the Designer of the Year Award by Elle Decor in 2012. Her work is represented by leading design galleries like Rossana Orlandi and Erastudio Apartment Gallery, both in Milan.
Gupta curated India’s first Design Exhibition for the Experimentadesign Biennale in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2009 and her designs have been featured at leading fairs such as Design Miami/Art Basel in the United States, Fuorisalone in Milan, and Design Days Dubai.
Jakarta-based product designer Tjitrowirjo is passionate about preserving Indonesian tradition and is a strong believer in working with local artisans and craftsmen. Tjitrowirjo holds a Masters in Product Design from IED Instituto Europeo di Design in Madrid, Spain, and has worked at famous Dutch design firm Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam. In 2005, Tjitrowirjo exhibited at SaloneSatellite in Milan, and in 2010 and 2011, his products were exhibited in Harrods, London, in an event supported by the Indonesian Government.
Currently, he has his own furniture brand, alvinT, based in Jakarta, where he also leads his design firm, alvinT Studio.
Driven by his passion for technology and materials, Ee’s designs are defined by “careful research into the understanding of the intrinsic nature and details of styles or spaces”. Trained in fine arts and industrial design at La Salle College of the Arts and Design in Singapore, Ee set up his own design practice, Exit Design, in 1995. In 2009, his Paperfold Chair was awarded the President’s Design Award for Best Furniture Design, the highest design accolade in Singapore.
Ee curated and produced a number of shows such as No Boundaries at Art Stage Singapore 2011, No Boundaries at IFFS (International Furniture Fair Singapore) 2010 and Black & Black by Nendo in Tortona, Milan, in 2011. Ee is also the cofounder of Industry+, a Singapore-based design and manufacturing company.
Led by Timo Wong and Priscilla Lui, Studio Juju is a multidisciplinary design practice that works with furniture, products and spaces. It received the Designers of the Future Award in 2011 at Design Miami/Basel. In 2014, the studio was awarded the Singapore President’s Design Award for its Rabbit & Tortoise Collection.
Adopting a fresh and optimistic approach in their work, Wong and Lui consider their design practice as a platform to explore and a medium for collaboration.
This mechanical engineer turned industrial designer founded Anon Pairot Design Studio in 2007 in Bangkok. The industrial design graduate from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang started his first full-time career as a curator and design director at a private company in Thailand. In 2011, Pairot curated a sculpture project called Follow The King’s Speech for the 84th birthday of Thailand’s King, and recently collaborated with Wataru Sakuma at the Design from Waste of Agriculture exhibition in Thailand which featured the recycling of local waste to make products.
In 2013, Pairot exhibited with Israel-born designer Arik Levy in Manila and in the same year, exhibited at the Singapore Art Biennale. In 2014, Pairot’s Zatellite lighting collection for Schema was selected as one of the highlight designs during Milan Design Week.
Lichauco holds a Masters degree in Industrial Design from Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan. In 2005, he established his design firm, Openstudio, a multidisciplinary design practice based in Manila, which focuses on creating interior spaces and everyday objects by combining references and studies from art, architecture, interiors, industrial design and manufacturing.
To date, Lichauco has participated in exhibitions such as the Messe Frankfurt Talents Exhibition, Citem Manila FAME, Singaplural IFFS (Asian Star in 2014 and as a curator of Newfolk, a platform for Filipino designers in 2015), and most recently in the Asia Talents of Bangkok’s Industrial Eco exhibition and trade show.
Founded by Henry Hsiao K.T. in 2011 in Taipei, Taiwan, Nbt.Studio consists of a team of collaborators from different fields who believe in creating sustainable products and solutions. They offer expertise in areas such as product design, space design, branding and interactive designs throughout Asia, Europe and North America. The team utilises everything from traditional craftsmanship to cutting-edge 3D printing technology, and also creates up-cycled luxury products from waste and recycled materials and new manufacturing processes by reviving ancient craftsmanship.
Seoul-based Lee majored in metal art and design at Hongik University, Seoul, from which he graduated in 2007. Inspired by his late grandfather, who was a farmer, Lee strives to give new meaning and function to everyday objects and materials.
Today, his work is part of the permanent collection at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has also participated in group projects and major international exhibitions, and heads his own design firm, Studio kL.
Beijing-based Li studied design and architecture at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. In 2010, she opened her own design studio Naihanli&Co and the following year, under renowned Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei’s art direction, Li designed the Un-Named section of the Gwangju Design Biennale, where she also exhibited. Her Crates furniture series was nominated for the 2012 Design of the Year Award by London’s Design Museum.
She was a featured designer under the China Design Market exhibition at Milan Design Week (2010, 2011) and Beijing Design Week (2011).
Soon after graduating from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1998, Nagasaka established Schemata Architects, a Tokyo-based architectural and design studio. Nagasaka has extensive experience in furniture design and architecture and is inspired by both traditional and pop Japanese cultures.
One example is his well-known ColoRing table, which is a contemporary take on a traditional craft technique of tsugaru nuri (Japanese lacquerware).
Invisible Designs Lab
Founded at the start of the new millennium, Invisible Designs Lab is a group of sound designers led by Kenjiro Matsuo. Following a joint performance for an Issey Miyake show in Paris in 2010, the group has gone on to produce interesting sound performances from instruments such as the Spiral Xylophone (2011) and Z-Machine (2013) which blends both analogue and electronic sounds – an uncommon feat indeed.
Born in Kagoshima, Japan, Futatsumata was first drawn to architecture and design after coming across Swiss architect Mario Botta’s book when he was in secondary school. Currently based in Fukuoka and Tokyo, the architecture graduate heads two studios, Case-Real and Koichi Futatsumata Studio.
His high-end hybrid tube amp design, 22 (pronounced tu tu), was added to the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2011. His Geometry Stool has also been chosen as Best of 2015 #design on domus online (domusweb.it), an architecture and design content provider.