In late 2010, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) took an interesting step. It released a range of Singapore-designed products in collaboration with local creative practice FARM, and co-curator Hans Tan, who together developed the design brief and selected 40 local creatives to take part. In tune with an international move for art institutions to connect with their local arts community, the project brings together work that is a barometer of the state of play in the Singapore creative scene and a timely opportunity to re-think the everyday object. The brief from FARM asked for tote bags for everyday burdens, piggy banks that save, mugs with expression and pencil boxes for ‘grown-ups’. New names and established designers were invited. Richard Hassell & Wong Mun Summ of WOHA (architects of the Space Singapore showroom), Dawn Ng, Donna Ong, Justin Lee, Josh & Shing of Lekker Design, Grace Tan of kwodrent, Jason Ong of Jienshu (Design Icon, page 48), and Jackson Tan of Black Design.

Highlights include the Adapter + Cup = Pencil holder by Felix Ng, a thoughtful idea that ‘adapts’ unwanted items and invents new functions; The Pencil is Mightier than the Sword by Chris Lee and Yong, a pencil case that inspires writers; It’s not Broken by Cheryl Tan and Daryl Ho that explores the quick-fix bandage and the beauty in the flawed object; and the Origami Leaf card by Grace Tan that reveals the process of making.

The final 40 objects by artists, architects, fashion and furniture designers, illustrators and photographers, have some surprising and poignant messages; some conceptual and playful, and others providing a voice for a new way of designing with less.

The collection of 40 Everyday Objects can be viewed at the Singapore Art Museum here.