Wonderland Design by Alice Shrimpton

I spent the afternoon with Alice Shrimpton, a gifted designer and founder of Wonderland Design, a boutique floral design firm here in sunny Singapore.

Alice spent nearly a decade in the UK studying floral design at Jane Packer Flower School and elsewhere; apprenticing in a number of studios in and around London; and working as an in-house florist at Claridge’s, Mayfair’s historic Art Deco hotel. A bit over a year ago, she returned home to the neighborhood where she was born and raised to start her own design business.

Alice has an incredible love for flowers and a deep appreciation for craft. “I love working with my hands,” she told me.

I think her arrangements are elegant, alluring, modern, and natural. Here are a handful of inspiring photographs of Alice’s recent creations:

(Additional credits: Photographs via Wonderland Design. Used with permission. Special thanks to Emily Loke of Paper Tiger Press.)

PARCO next NEXT and Yumumu

Another fashion label that I discovered on my last visit to PARCO next NEXT, a joint initiative between Parco Singapore, a department store, and the Textile and Fashion Federation, an industry organization, is Yumumu. On that day, I spotted select pieces from designer Lu Yilin’s S/S 2010 collection, “East Asian Misfits,” a sophisticated, wearable collection that combines kimono-inspired folding, sharp tailoring, and rich fabrics.

From Yumumu’s recently-launched S/S 2011 collection, “New Pastiche,” inspired by influential British artist, David Hockney:

In the words of the designer: “There is an undeniable joie de vivre in [his] brilliant clash of lines, diagonals, and asymmetry that enlivens even the most contained domestic space with motion. Hockney creates collage in movement, with the disparate pieces of his compositions [colliding], sliding, [and] slipping alongside each other in a continual rhythm.

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PARCO next NEXT recently announced this year’s lineup and it features 13 new names. I look forward to returning to PARCO next NEXT in a few weeks to check out some of these blossoming labels in local fashion.

(Additional credits: Photographs via Yumumu. Used with permission by Lu Yilin; lace frames via Pugly Pixel.)

the artist and his model by Yanda

It’s a challenge to build a life, career, and professional network on the other side of the world. That said, I’ve been very blessed to have met some incredibly talented people on this tiny island. All the locals and expats I’ve met so far in Singapore are kind, open-minded, and giving.

I’m thankful to so many of them who have taken out time from their busy days to make time for me: a passionate artist and educator, a virtual stranger, an American with a blog.

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The other day, I met Yanda of the beautiful blog, the artist and his model. He is a print and interactive designer and “dabbles in curating, blogging, surfing, reading and a whole lot of thinking.” He is warm and humble and generous with his knowledge. I enjoyed our conversation and learned much about the local arts and design scene from him.

His blog is such an inspiration. Yanda not only showcases the best in design in Singapore, but highlights artists I rarely read about elsewhere. We share a love of typography and the book arts and I enjoy reading about the book projects he uncovers from various corners of the web.

Two forthcoming exhibits, curated by Yanda: THEN NOW NEXT (23 April to 22 May at Fred Perry Laurel Wreath Shop, 19 Ann Siang Road), which presents the stories of 18 individuals and collectives who have contributed to shaping and inspiring the growth of the cultural scene in Singapore, and I Have A Room With Everything (dates TBA at Night and Day, 139 Selegie Road), a free-to-touch, free-to-browse graphic design exhibition featuring printed materials.

Add his blog to your reader and follow him on Twitter.

(Additional credits: Top to bottom: Traumgedanken, Maria Fischer,  2010; Hybrid Novels, Alberto Hernández of Here I Go, 2009; Ordered by Chance, Joe Kwan of Studiowill, 2008. All via the artist and his model.)

PARCO next NEXT and max.tan

Another item to add to my “learning more about” list: Singapore fashion.

Again, I’m quite familiar with American, European, Indian, and Japanese designers. Items by some of my favorites hang in my closet. And I can’t count the number of times I visited the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But slowly, over the past few months, I’ve been getting to know several local and regional designers as well.

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PARCO next NEXT, a joint initiative between Parco Singapore, a department store, and the Textile and Fashion Federation, an industry organization, provides aspiring designers with the start-up infrastructure needed to kick-start their creative businesses. PARCO next NEXT is currently showcasing 24 designers. It was here that I chanced upon max.tan. From the label’s S/S 2011 collection:

Neither of these images showcase Tan’s obsessions with structure, minimalism and androgyny. He calls his garments “intellectual.” I tend to agree. Do check out two of my favorite pieces from this collection: the jersey Draped Handkerchief Cardigan and the very wearable “Ling Ling” Dress.

(Additional credits: Photographs via max.tan. Used with permission.)

The Canvas

Earlier this week, the folks behind GOODSTUPH, a Singapore-based social media outfit, launched The Canvas, a new online resource aimed at making art accessible to the “accountant from Toa Payoh.”

The Canvas covers everything from basic Western art history (“The Beginning of Modern Art” by Pat Law) to interviews with local artists (“An Interview with Urban Artist Trase One” by Samantha Lo) to criticism (“How to Critique a Work of Art” by Stephanie Phua).

The Canvas also aims to gather the collective knowledge of some of Singapore’s most talented writers, artists, designers, and other arts professionals. This group, or The Council, will share their insights into their own artistic disciplines. Over the past few months, I have come to know and admire Adrianna Tan of Popagandhi and Melly Fong of greenlaundry, two of The Council’s 17 members, and I look forward to learning more about the others through their art and writing.

This new website is supported by The National Art Gallery Singapore, a yet-to-be-opened visual arts institution that will house the world’s largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian and Singaporean art. The gallery is slated to open at the end of 2014.

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I am eager to see The Canvas evolve. As an educator, I hope that The Canvas will add more resources on creativity and critical thinking, similar to Ms. Phua’s piece. As a writer, I look forward to posts that are more than just an aesthetic judgment or a mere interpretation of a piece of art.

The Canvas’ challenge is to raise knowledge among less-than-interested individuals and to help them engage with art in all of its forms. And they must do this without “dumbing down” the conversation. I have no doubt that this dynamic team is up to it. Onwards, follow art lovers!

(Additional credits: Image via The Canvas. Cheong Soo Pieng, Weavers, 1981. Oil on canvas laid on paper board, 82 x 106cm. Collection of National Heritage Board; Special thanks to Daphne Chui for the heads-up about this online project.)

littleoddforest by Lynda Lye

Lynda Lye, founder of lifestyle label littleoddforest, designs and creates enchanted, fairytale-inspired handbags, plush toys, t-shirts, baby accessories, and more. Craft-lovers surely recognize her whimsical work from Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals by Therese Laskey (Chronicle Books, 2007) and Softies Kit: Instructions and Tools for Creating 15 Plush Pals by Therese Laskey (Chronicle Books, 2008).

Well, she lives here and opens her home studio every Monday (by appointment only) for a peek at one-of-a-kind prototypes, samples, and discontinued designs.

I stopped by a few weeks ago to admire her work and chat about independent design and fashion in Singapore.

Because Lynda established her line over a half decade ago, she was able to provide me with some perspective on the growth of the local indie/handmade industry. The number of stores that stock hand-crafted products like hers have popped up all over the island over the past few years. And she finds that she has more brand-loyal local clients than she used to.

FYI, littleoddforest’s ‘Leaf Couplet Wristlet’ and ‘Cheeky Monster Bento Poche’ (L) and ‘Notebook Zipper Poche’ (R) are available online, via Etsy and the forestprints design website. An exclusive range of littleoddforest goods can also be found in stores all over the world.

On my list? Her ‘Secret Notes’ laptop cozy. It combines my love of paper and my MacBook Pro.

(Additional credits: Photographs by Apple Lim. Used with permission from littleoddforest. More photographs from this shoot, taken on location at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, on Flickr; vintage fabric deco tapes via Pugly Pixel.)