Singapore Things by Singapore People

Singapore Things by Singapore People

Singapore, Product Design –

Multi label design store Naiise carries unique products created by local talent

 

A curry puff cuddly cushion, a doorstop that looks like kueh lapis, notebooks with durian illustrations on the cover, gem biscuit lamps, Singapore Sling jam. All these products tell a story about Singapore: our childhood memories, school experiences, HDB living, favourite local foods, landmarks, and NS life.

Naiise has its roots in 2013 when founder Dennis Tay plonked in $3000 from his own pocket to create an online platform selling well-designed products. Today it is a multi million dollar business expanding to brick-and-mortar stores across Singapore and, by end- 2017, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Reflecting its roots as a bootstrapped start-up, Naiise strongly supports local design and products that reflect our unique heritage.

 

A chat with Naiise’ husband and wife team – founder Dennis Tay, and marketing and buying director Amanda Eng

Dennis Tay: More people should support our local designers if they wish to see more interesting products in our retail landscape. This is a major confidence booster for designers to keep creating and not fear a market that will not support them
Amanda Eng: The important thing Naiise has done is to create a demand for these products

 

1 Naiise is a fantastic outlet for putting Singapore Design on the world map. How long do you think we achieve global recognition for our unique Singapore Style in design?

The local design industry has grown quite substantially in the last few years. Naiise has also seen a real growth in the number of designers we can find in the market today. At the same time, more and more emerging ones are more confident and willing to try to make products and sell them. How quickly we get there really depends on the collective effort of schools, the government bodies, retailers, consumers as well as the whole creative community as a whole. Each are interrelated and responsible for the success of that development. However there is much emphasis being placed now on design, and I do think if we in entirety keep moving forward, that reality can come sooner than expected.

2 Who are the main designers of your Singapore items, and what are their main inspirations?

We represent more than 1,000 different designers and 800 of them are actually local. Many of them draw their inspiration from our diverse heritage, unique culture, and their own interpretations of problems they want to solve in their everyday lives through innovative product design.

3 How do we get more young local Singaporeans interested in designing local products that reflect Singapore’s heritage and culture?

The important thing Naiise has done was to create a demand for these products. The simplest of economic sense, if there’s demand, there will be supply. As such, more people should support our local designers if they wish to see more interesting products in our retail landscape. This is a major confidence booster for designers to keep creating and not fear a market that will not support them.

4 What are your favourite local foods after a hard day at work, and where do you go to for these?

Bak chor mee at Tai Hwa Pork Noodle.

 

Singapore designers and their creations

NOM NOM PLUSH

Curry puff plushie
Kueh lapis keychain

Nom Nom Plush designer, Janus Ong:

1 What is the main inspiration behind your designs?

In 2015, we celebrated Singapore’s 50th Birthday and, being avid foodies, we at Nom Nom Plush had the idea of commemorating Singapore’s traditional kuehs and pastries by turning them into huggable cushions and pillows. This is also a playful challenge to our parents telling us “don’t play with your food”. Nom Nom Plushies are designed exactly for people to play with, and they come with zero calories!

2 How do we get more Singaporeans to be interested in local design?

Singaporeans are generally interested in local designs. It’s just that there are not many platforms for local designers to showcase their designs and products. Having more retailers such as Naiise with both offline and online platforms helps increase the interest level among Singaporeans.

3 What is your favourite local food and from where after a hard day at work designing stuff?

Otah otah from Lee Wee Brothers. Otah is also one of our new Nom Nom Plush products.

4 What is your favourite way of sketching ideas?

Pencil.

 

WHENIWASFOUR

Foodie notebooks
Old biscuit tin pin

Wheniwasfour designer, Liling:

1 What is the main inspiration behind your designs?

It’s actually everywhere. From my own childhood memories to memories from our parents and sometimes customers will give me ideas as well. Many of our Wheniwasfour products evoke childhood memories of Singapore.

2 How do we get more Singaporeans to be interested in local design?

Singaporeans generally are quite interested in local design when the concept is something that they can relate to. Like, for example, fancy gem cushions – these are things they eat when they are young. When the idea or product is related to daily life, it manages to capture Singaporeans’ attention.

3 What is your favourite local food and from where after a hard day at work designing stuff?

Haha my mum’s home cooked food! I also like bak chor mee and chicken rice.

4 What is your favourite way of sketching ideas?

Pencil and notebook!

 

THE FOREST FACTORY

Chilli crab plushie
Peranakan tile coasters

The Forest Factory designer, Bryan:

1 What is the main inspiration behind your designs?

Our brand, The Forest Factory, is about putting smiles on people’s faces. It’s about good vibes and things that make people happy. We draw inspirations from the simple joys in our daily life. Places we hang out, food that we enjoy and music that we listen to are all great sources of inspirations.

2 How do we get more Singaporeans to be interested in local design?

In recent years, we found that more Singaporeans are recognising the benefits and value of good design. However, most Singaporeans seem to be more familiar with the international design scene than the local one, probably due to the lack of exposure to our local designers’ works. Specialty shops like Naiise which carry local designers’ products have definitely increased Singaporeans’ interest in local design.

3 What is your favourite local food and from where after a hard day at work designing stuff?

That’s a tough question because we have so many places to go for good food! Most of the time, we go to our nearest hawker centre for authentic Singaporean cuisine. Some of our favourites are Chomp Chomp Food Centre, Maxwell Food Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre and Changi Village.

Oyster omelette and fried Hokkien mee at a Hawker Centre

Other times, we visit fusion food cafes like The Coastal Settlement and Sinpopo for western style cuisine with distinct Singapore flavours.

4 What is your favourite way of sketching ideas?

We love old school ink brush on sketchbook. It gives a special quality to the sketches that tablets can’t replace.

 

Story by Carol Kraal. Photographs copyright holder Naiise. Featured photograph above is Singapore Evening Postcard by Ming//Playgrd