In a modern world driven by internet, social media and instant gratification, how do you bring together heritage, culture, traditions, both tangible and intangible cultural heritage to people, from the young to the seniors? A real life challenge to practice, continue and passing it on, our cultural heritage and traditions to the current younger and future generations. Thinking beyond and in a modern contemporary world today, what would it be like when we merge history, heritage, culture and traditions into the modern way of life and living? Through National Heritage Board (NHB) Craft X Design Showcase, we can have a glimpse of what could be the future growth and continuation of our intangible cultural heritage to our future generations.
At NHB inaugural Craft X Design showcase held at the National Museum of Singapore, visitors can get up close and personal with four prototypes of contemporary and creative amalgamation of tradition, heritage and culture, combined with modern contemporary living and design through the world, eyes, craft and skillsets of the cultural and heritage practitioners and contemporary modern designers coming together in a unique and eye opening experience.
Craft X Design was introduced by NHB, part of their efforts under Our SG Heritage Plan to cultivate stronger public awareness and appreciation of Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. This helps to create platforms to showcase Singapore’s rich and diverse trades and crafts.
Mr Yeo Kirk Siang, Director, Heritage Research & Assessment, NHB, said, “By actively nurturing partnerships between crafts persons and local designers to produce contemporary products using traditional craft techniques or materials, we aim to revitalise local traditional crafts, by opening up new markets and new customer bases, and thus ensuring their long-term sustainability and commercial viability. The result of the pilot edition of Craft X Design conveys the important message that traditional crafts continue to have a place and relevance in our society today through innovation.”
Traditional Chinese Lanterns | Harmony Spheres
Practitioner: Jimm Wong
Designers: Melvin Ong, Xu Xiao (NextOfKin Creatives)
Traditional Chinese lanterns have a long tradition and history dating back to the Han Dynasty (206BC to 220AD). In Singapore, they are traditionally hung in places of worship and clan associations, and during festivities or special occasions such as deities’ birthdays, weddings and Mid-Autumn Festival.
Traditional Chinese lanterns are made of bamboo frames, the bamboo splints are cut to the required length and thickness, followed by soaking in water before being heated over a fire and the bamboo strips can be Ben for the lantern frame. This would followed by gluing the oil-coated silk paper onto the lantern frame, before they can be painted with traditional characters, motifs and/or family surnames.
In a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Chinese lantern by NextOfKin Creatives, they designed it to be an elegant dining lamp, titled “Harmony Spheres”. This symbolises a nice and good mix of tradition and contemporary, by preserving the lighting function and the bamboo strips of a traditional Chinese lantern, while adding a contemporary spin through its unique multi-spherical structure.
This Harmony Spheres lamp is further inspired by the Chinese ivory puzzle ball, they have intricately carved layers that can rotate individually. With its open-ended spheres further producing a layered and textured lighting effect. The translucent exterior design produces a graceful arc of the bamboo ribs, held together by 3D-printed rims.
In order to see, feel and experience this Harmony Spheres lamp, get up close and personal (without touching it) at this exhibition. You will be able to feel the tradition and contemporary combining together as one.
Ketupat Weaving | Raya Furniture
Practitioner: MDM Anita Tompang
Designer: Mr Andrew Loh
Whenever I see a Ketupat, the first thing that comes to my mind is delicious Malay cuisine. Ketupat is a rice cake wrapped in a pouch, traditionally woven with coconut leaves, used in religious ceremonies throughout the Malay world as form of food offering. In Singapore, it’s usually prepared as a festive food by the Malay-Muslim community during Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.
Ketupat weaving is often a family activity that brings together generations together in a celebratory spirit of Hari Ray festivities. More than just weaving ketupat for rice cakes, ketupat pouches are also woven from colourful ribbons to decorate Malay homes during festive periods, they can be woven into a variety of shapes and sizes, including the ketupat raya, the most common ketupat from seen during the Hari Raya festive celebrations.
How do you transform the ketupat into something contemporary? Through Raya, a celebration of the ketupat raya. It’s being transposed from ketupat raya to contemporary furniture, paying tribute to the sophistication and versatility of the weaving techniques.
How is Raya Furniture produced? They are woven around foams of different densities instead of coconut leaves and rice cakes, inspired by the function of ketupats as containers. Each module is woven or riveted together with other modules, stacked in different combinations to create the bench and stool on display.
The modular nature of Raya furniture is a respond to the growing nature of creative designed spaces and encourages users to experiment with modifying/re-transforming their Raya modules into a variety of functional everyday uses.
Peranakan Beadwork and Embroidery | Rejuvenation Gown
Practitioner: Raymond Wong
Designers: Joanna Lim, Joanne Quak (Aller Row)
Peranakan beadwork and embroidery are exquisitely beautiful and intricate crafts, marked with a rich repertoire of motifs and techniques that weave together diverse Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European influences, reflecting Peranakan culture. Two iconic examples of Peranakan beadwork and embroidery are the beaded slippers (kasut manek) and the Peranakan kebaya dress.
Peranakan beadwork uses glass and metal seed beads, individually stitched in place onto the cloth. The Peranakan kebaya featured two triangular front panels (lapik) that fall gently over the hips. Combining lacework as well as satin, zigzag and buttonhole stitches are employed to outline floral or geometric motifs on the kebaya.
Rejuvenation Gown is a contemporary take on the traditional Peranakan kebaya, adapting and incorporating elements of Peranakan kebaya onto a cape-sleeved couture gown, fusing Lim and Quak’s joint vision of creating fashion wear tailored for the modern women, as well as showcasing Wong’s interest in Peranakan culture and expertise in traditional Peranakan beadwork and embroidery techniques.
Rangoli | Refined Rangoli
Practitioner: Ms Vijaya Mohan
Designer: Jarrod Lim (Jarrod Lim Design)
Rangoli, is a traditional Indian art form dating a long wat back in time to pre-Aryan India. It is a multi-coloured floor decoration, using rice flour or other natural substances such as grains, seeds, vermillion and/or turmeric powder, to create motifs that symbolise joy, prosperity, and/or thanksgiving to the deities.
They are traditionally drawn on the ground at the entrance of households and are commonly seen during Indian festivals such as Deepavali. Their shapes may range from geometric shapes, to auspicious animals and floral designs, to symbols of Hindu deities. Some of the popular motifs include circular designs that signify the continuity of time, the lotus flower with Goddess Lakshmi in the middle, that represents prosperity and fertility in Hinduism.
From a 2D art form to a 3D art form, giving rise to Refined Rangoli, widening the possibilities and diversities of Rangoli art form into a modern contemporary design of 3D metalware, including a lampshade and a bowl, a combination of decorative art form with new practical applications.
Refined Rangoli metalware preserves Rangoli’s artistic flavours and cultural expressions, bringing them to life via laser cutting technology, producing intricate Rangoli motifs carved out onto slices of stainless steel. The thin and flexible metal slices were then folded by hand into the form of the lampshade and bowl.
In order to see, feel and experience the Refined Rangoli, get up close and personal (without touching it) at this exhibition. You will be able to feel the tradition and contemporary combining together as one.
NHB Craft X Design showcase – A Must Visit
The inaugural NHB Craft X Design showcase is amazing, a real eye opener into how we can merge the world of heritage, culture and traditions together with modern contemporary inputs from design and applications to everyday living.
This showcase is an inspiration to all, it’s also a modern contemporary method of continuing heritage, culture and traditions from the older generations to the younger generations. Highly recommended for extended families to bring their children/grandchildren to visit, learn and appreciate about Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, preserving, conserving and passing on our heritage, culture and traditions to the future generations.
Craft X Design Showcase Information
Venue: National Museum of Singapore, Longer Concourse, Level 1, 93 Stamford Road, S178897
Date: 2nd July 2022 to 31st July 2022
Time: Opens daily 10am to 7pm