When DesignSingapore Council first launched Business of Design in 2019, eight design studios made the cut and were picked for the programme to embark on their overseas expansion plans. We ran a second open call earlier this year. Seven more Singapore firms will be joining the first batch where they will be paired with in-market consultants who will help to uncover business opportunities Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia.
From multidisciplinary and furniture design firms to lifestyle brands, these names have already established themselves locally. Among them are Wynk Collaborative, the designer behind fashion brand’s Love Bonito flagship store at Funan; and Supermama, the lifestyle goods brand which produced the beloved blue porcelain plates featuring Singaporean icons.
It’s going to be exciting. I believe that the world is going to become more interconnected than ever. By being part of Business of Design, I hope to put together a project which will involve designers and makers from Italy, Japan, Singapore and the larger Southeast Asia.
Edwin Low, Supermama
Besides having a compelling and differentiated brand philosophy, these design studios and brands selected for Business of Design possess sound business fundamentals with the ability to scale readily to meet international demand.
To ensure they’re primed with the necessary knowledge and offerings to expand, they get paired with in-market consultants – Tony Chambers for Europe, Misako Fujimoto for Japan and Suzy Annetta for Asia, including Southeast Asia. Through working with and being mentored by them, these design firms will gain an understanding the market, be connected to business circles and get guidance in their pitch to secure business opportunities.
Let’s hear more from the eight brands about their plans
Ipse Ipsa Ipsum brings together individuals, artisans and designers who collaborate across various disciplines to create individualised pieces that transform ordinary living spaces into extraordinary places. It produces quality, sensibly priced, semi-luxurious handcrafted pieces to meet the evolving needs and desires of their customers. It is looking to create a global network of interior designers to collaborate with and transform spaces.
Gabriel Tan Studio is a design practice which has designed furniture and products for Ariake, Blå Station, Menu, Design Within Reach, The Conran Shop, Asplund and Abstracta. Gabriel Tan is also the creative director of interior design studio Antimatter, Singapore door handle brand Turn, Japanese furniture brand Ariake, and Portuguese craft brand Origin. As one of the initial eight studios for the first run of Business of Design, Gabriel Tan Studio now has ambitions to work with revered Japanese companies with a strong heritage in craftsmanship and manufacturing.
Roger&Sons is a team of ethical makers and mavericks who craft fine furniture and thoughtful objects. Its work is driven by inquiry, and spans furniture, industrial, and product design, as well as woodworking. Roger&Sons plans to break into the regional Southeast Asia market through both bespoke and off-the-shelf offerings.
Wendy Chua and Gustavo Maggio lead the multi-disciplinary design practice, Forest & Whale, where they design products and systems, and create future-envisioning narratives for clients. Its goal is to develop a stronger portfolio of clients in Europe to create products and services that bring value to the consumers and businesses.
Supermama is a Singapore design and lifestyle goods brand. From the classic “Made in Arita Japan” blue white porcelain, to contemporary tableware, every Supermama piece is made by some of the finest craftsmen in Asia, whilst exhibiting a distinctly Singaporean design sensibility. It is hoping to put together partnership projects which will involve designers and makers from different regions.
Founded by Dennis Cheok in 2011, UPSTRS_ is a Singapore-based spatial design practice which focuses on conceptual rigour, collaborative processes and hands-on material exploration. It is looking to expand its network of collaborators, forging interdisciplinary synergies with creative talents in Southeast Asia.
Viewport Studio is an award-winning multidisciplinary studio with projects dating back to 1997. It is a small team of designers and architects based in London and Singapore, and has designed private houses, offices, showrooms, exhibitions and events, hotels, chairs, tableware, service design, cabin interiors, airline seats and even clothing. It plans to grow in the European design manufacturing sector and expand its contacts in Southeast Asia.
Wynk Collaborative is a Singapore-based design studio whose work is centered around spatial design, and deals with all aspects surrounding it. Its process is rooted in the idea of collaboration and it believes in the power of good design to influence and create change. Wynk Collaboratives aims to connect with Japan-based developers for the possibility of working on spatial design projects in Japan.