The Asian edition of international design fair behemoth Maison & Objet returned to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre from 8-11 March. Now in its third year, the fair is more intimate, trimming its 300 exhibiting brands down to just over 180. During our visit, we took a closeup look at the six designers on its Rising Asian Talents platform, which is stronger than ever.
Ease – Thailand
Designers Nichepak Torsutkanok and Wanus Choketaweesak drew from their family’s 30-year-old embroidery expertise to found Ease, a brand aiming to combine industrial craftsmanship and art to create a new spatial experiences with elements made of embroidery. Adorning their booth was Cotton – a flower-like 3D embroidery modular partition with varying degrees of transparency – and Tex-Tile – a series of embroidered acoustic panels made of polyester thread with plywood backing – which were inspired by the shape of traditional Thai spinning wheels and basket weave patterns respectively.
Lab de Stu – Australia
Making their debut at the fair this year was Melbourne-based design collective Lab de Stu, which consists of designers Adam Lynch, Dale Hardiman and Andre Hnatojko. They each run their own individual practices, but are represented as one through the brand. They presented three collections: Bradley Hopper, a collection of side tables inspired by the basketball hoop; Timber, a collection of tables, consoles and benches; and their latest product, Cup, a series of pendant lights that explores basic geometric shapes.
Chihiro Tanaka – Japan
A Bunka Fashion College graduate who worked closely with famous fashion brand Issey Miyake’s textile director Makiko Miyagawa, Chihiro Tanaka describes himself as a “light couturier” and draws parallels between designing dresses and lighting pieces. “Both involve making a pattern, draping and constructing,” he says. His eponymous brand is famous for ethereal (and mostly washable) lighting pieces inspired by Japanese flora and sweets. Among them are the Astrococo (inspired by traditional sashiko stitching), Konpeito (inspired by colourful sweet of the same name), and the newly debuted Ajisign, a literal bouquet of exactly 1,000 tiny cowhide leather flowers inspired by the ajisai (hydrangea) flower.
Lekker Architects – Singapore
Lekker Architects, helmed by Joshua Comaroff and Ong Ker-shing, specialise in “unusual homes, retail environments and spaces for children”. Lekker’s booth was uniquely occupied by a stack of lightboxes with peepholes that display the studio’s most notable projects. The studio also presented the prototypes of a series of benches in the public areas of the fair; the benches were created for Singapore’s National Art Gallery by splicing together vintage replica furniture.
Kimu Design – Taiwan
Established in 2012 by designers Ketty Shih, Alex Yeh and Kelly Lin, Kimu’s claim to fame is an East-meets-West lighting collection called the New Old Light, which combines a metal lampshade with a lantern paper structure. This year, the studio has expanded the collection to include the New Old Divider – a room divider comprised of an aluminium frame with fully articulated folding fan elements. Also on display is the latest version of the Pinocchio vase. A simple wooden vessel with a ball structure that can be rotated to adjust the angle of the flower arrangement, the new Pinocchio uses kinpaku (Japanese gold leaf) finishing – a result of collaboration with Kyoto craftsmen.
Stanley Ruiz – Philippines
Stanley Ruiz describes his design as “an effort to bring traditional craftsmanship to the contemporary world through industrial design”. Ruiz, who worked in Bali before moving to Brooklyn, is no stranger to the international design scene. He shot to fame in 2010 when NY-based Surface Magazine named him one of its young designers to watch. He’s now based in Manila, churning out innovative products like speakers made of paper and cabinets made of silk-screened newspaper. On display at his booth are the paper lamp Linea and copper geometric Facet vases.
Lead image courtesy of Ease.