Singapore has an international reputation of being forward-thinking in more ways than one. However, art and design are still perceived to be found or legitimised when featured in national museums, colonial architecture or luxury items. That cannot be further from the truth, especially when design is the backbone of modern life – from cutlery to traffic to how we digest information online.
Clara Yee, Creative Director of In The Wild, shares:
There’s been huge changes in how information is consumed, distributed, and published because of advances in technology. Even I myself sometimes wonder how I used to keep current, or research about art and design in the days before smartphones. It would have been really difficult to stumble upon or find out more about an obscure artwork or relatively unknown artist, whereas that is now commonplace with instagram, personal websites and blogs and a quick Google search.
From what I observe, people are more open to a wider vocabulary of aesthetics but also a lot more opinionated and picky about who they regard as tastemakers and their own ‘tribe’ and its values. The constant connectivity and technological changes can be alienating, and it is easy to be desensitised to information. People look more to the arts and design to process or humanise these changes, question it, and reconnect with themselves.
Design does inform the way we view life as well as live, while evolving with the times. Its adaptability a strength not every profession can claim. The local scene is small but vibrant and definitely in an ideal position for dialogue and exploration since Asia is rapidly growing today.
It is an exciting time.
The creative studio Clara works in, In The Wild, is independent. No surprise there, since their portfolio is diverse and they take on any project that interests them. Be it content, concepts or just presentation, bring it on and they are all onboard.
Some clients include the Singapore Tourism Board (Singapore Inside Out Tokyo), National Museum of Singapore (Wartime Recipes) and National Arts Council (Got To Move 2018), among others.
People are usually impressed by the scale and imagination of our projects and that leads to them being curious about what we actually do, because it is not immediately apparent through the diverse mediums we work in. Having the aptitude and being open to interdisciplinary working is important to the studio’s practice when we combine business strategies and artistic pursuits. It is crucial to make a distinction between different fields and find the sweet spots in between.
With this philosophy to drive the studio, close relationships have been fostered and a great balance has been made between passion and disciplines. A win-win situation for all parties involved.
There is a natural relationship between creators and brands, particularly with a shared audience. A well built cultural partnership between creators and brand breaks down the boundaries of audience connection. For the creators, it opens up avenues beyond a gallery and the financial economics of a collective audience. For brands, it amplifies the message and allows the creation of experiences in various formats to connect with audience at ideal point of consumption.
So, how do these conversations with brands start?
Besides the usual pitches, the studio reaches out for possible collaborations while brands are able to do the same. You’ll be surprised how a simple email to say ‘Hello!’ may lead to future partnerships and a good working relationship to develop. It is all about getting a conversation started before rolling out the ideas, coffees and moodboards.
And where the conversations choose to end is entirely up to the brand. Would you like a one-off event with a bang? Or are you more keen on a long-term branding that develops its artistic commitment over time?
Looking at the multiple tie ups in the fashion world or even big brands actively associating themselves with The Arts, such as Uniqlo and Aesop, I believe that the culture of collaboration is the future. To not participate might mean losing out on the expansion of audience and to build upon a brand’s initial impression.
We live in a world where the interchange of disciplines is the norm, and design is embedded into the landscape. Increasingly brands adopt that spirit when exploring new channels and ways to build trust and connection with their audience.
Brands with the confidence to commission impactful artworks and experiences, and understand and appreciate the creation process as parallel to the growth process of their business, and work in the ecosystem of creators and distributors have clarity of voice and retain deeper engagement and attention in a competitive market.
So what’s the future direction Clara and her team would like to explore more of?
Definitely onboard with collaborations and speaking with new brands to design experiences for new audiences – niche or not – the studio is keen to look into sustainability as well. Fun fact: Clara keeps plenty of plants in the studio and she is looking into ways to reuse materials to create and design with – starting with glass bottles and plastic.
Personally, I am excited to see where this takes them – how they may be able to maximise the studio’s expertise while giving brands what they seek for, while working with materials that can take on multiple forms even after its initial use. Though sustainability has been spoken of in recent times, I haven’t seen much of its development in the design scene yet and perhaps, Clara and her team can be at the forefront of this movement.
And as one of my favourite phrases say it best: If you can’t beat them, join them.
Written by Teo Dawn