Modern products made with traditional techniques exhibited at National Museum of Singapore until Jul 31

Practitioners and designers will share their experience creating the prototypes at a public talk on Jul 9 at the Craft X Design showcase.

Nurul Mardhiah

I like chewing ice.

Published: 5 July 2022, 5:18 PM

As part of the Our SG Heritage Plan initiative, the National Heritage Board (NHB) launched an exhibit that showcases age-old traditional crafts reimagined into contemporary product prototypes on Jul 1.

Titled Craft X Design, the exhibit at National Museum of Singapore features crafts such as traditional Chinese lanterns, ketupat weaving, rangolis, and Peranakan beadwork and embroidery.

Four teams, each comprising a local craft veteran and a contemporary designer, were brought together through an open call last year to innovate a modern product inspired by a unique blend of traditional influences and modern trends. 

The showcase comprises four different sections that display each team’s prototype and the traditional craft that it was inspired by.

Rejuvenation Gown

The Rejuvenation Gown, displayed at the front of the exhibit, was worked on by designers Joanna Lim and Joanne Quak, and Peranakan beadwork and embroidery practitioner Raymond Wong.


The cape sleeves can be detached to allow easy donning of the dress. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN


The raven black couture gown is decorated with intricate motifs that resemble various types of flowers such as the lotus flower and animals such as butterflies. 

The digitally printed patterns are mostly in colours like fuchsia and turquoise, which are commonly found in traditional Peranakan kebaya. Tiny beads and gems were also sewn on to add texture to the prints.

A display is set up next to the gown for visitors to learn more about Peranakan beading and embroidery, as well as get an exclusive behind-the-scenes video about the process behind making the gown.


Peranakan beadwork uses glass and metal seed beads and are individually stitched in place. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN

Harmony Spheres Lamp

The second display showcases a dining ceiling lamp inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns.

The lamp is made by traditional Chinese lantern practitioner, Jimm Wong, and modern designers Melvin Ong and Xu Xiao from NextOfKin Creatives.


According to the designers, the lamp symbolises the harmony of both traditional and contemporary coming together. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN


Bamboo strips and 3D-printed rims were assembled together to create the spherical lamp. Its layered spherical shape, inspired by the Chinese ivory puzzle ball, allows the lamp to produce a unique textured lighting effect.

Next to the lamp, visitors can get a closer look at the unique crafting tools used to make a traditional Chinese lantern.


Jimm Wong is one of the last traditional Chinese lantern makers in Singapore. He specialises in making Foochow lanterns. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN


Visitors can also watch a video showing the process of the dining lamp making.

Refined Rangoli Metalware

Right next to the spherical lamp, visitors will get to view these unique metalware inspired by the intricate floral, geometrical, and animal designs from rangoli artworks.


The metal slices were folded by hand to form the lampshade and bowl. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN


Using rangoli designs made by practitioner Vijaya Mohan, Jarrod Lim, founder of Jarrod Lim Design, takes the two-dimensional designs and bent them into various 3D shapes that resemble dishes and lamps.


The display also shows the rangoli pattern that was used as inspiration for the final design of the lampshades and bowls. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN


Each item is made of thin and flexible metal slices that were carved using laser cutting technology to create detailed motifs on the metalware. 

The metalware was then folded by hand to form the various lampshades and bowls. 

The light emitting from the lampshade produces unique and beautiful shadow patterns that can be seen against the wall.

Raya Furniture

The final display shows how ketupat can be used as a unique design element to create simple and minimalistic furniture pieces for homes. 

Instead of coconut leaves, practitioner Anita Tompang used thick strips of felt to weave each ketupat used for the furniture. Each module was then stuffed with foam, connected using metal buttons and stacked to create a stool and a bench.


Each ketupat module was hand-woven by Anita Tompang herself. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/DANIAL IRFAN


Designer Andrew Loh made further modifications by allowing the metal buttons to be easily detachable so that each ketupat can be reassembled to form other pieces of furniture.

For visitors who are interested to learn more about each prototype, a public talk titled Revitalising Traditional Crafts For Contemporary Times will be held on Jul 9. 

The practitioners and designers that worked on this showcase will share their experiences and challenges, as well as talk about the process of creating the final prototype.

During this talk, visitors will get to try their hand on weaving ketupats and creating rangolis through a session conducted by Anita Tompang and Vijaya Mohan respectively.

The public talk will take place at the National Museum of Singapore in Activity Room Space located on the third level from 1.30pm to 4pm. Those interested can sign up here to attend the talk for free.

The Craft X Design exhibit will end on Jul 31.

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