Design Anthology, Asia Edition, Issue 26


The Singapore Edition

Since the founding of Design Anthology, the team has made numerous trips to Singapore, whether to meet the city-state’s most interesting emerging designers, architects, makers, writers, photographers and illustrators, or to visit a new hotel, F&B project or old friends. It’s a town full of talent, but one that hasn’t always been given the recognition it deserves for its creative and cultural endeavours. This year, we aim to change that. These many relationships and discoveries have culminated in our first special issue dedicated just to Singaporean design, craft and culture.

The journey from Changi Airport into Singapore’s city centre is a memorable one, especially the first time. Walking out of one of the world’s most advanced and efficient airports, new arrivals are greeted with dense, lush flora and foliage that bring to mind the phrase ‘welcome to the jungle’. My first visit to Singapore was in the early 2000s, and I immediately liked the people (how can you not? They’re some of the chattiest people I’ve ever come across), the food, the shopping, the City in a Garden concept, and above all, since I really enjoy an outdoor shower, the climate — there aren’t many others in the world where you can have the pleasure of bathing al fresco year-round.

Singapore is an island nation that punches well above its weight. I attended a symposium at Hong Kong’s Asia Society in 2016 in which Dr Limin Hee, now the director of research at Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities, gave a keynote speech. Dr Hee’s presentation included photographs of her home country from the middle of the 20th century, a Singapore I didn’t recognise. I remember being shocked at how much it had changed in the intervening years. In this issue’s opening essay, Singapore-based writer Sarah Mineko Ichioka examines some of the ways in which the tiny island nation has designed itself into the first-world country it is today, with its eyes very much on the future. The country’s leaders are fully aware of the city-state’s place in the world and that it competes at a global level, not just locally. Singapore and its economy have benefited hugely from globalisation, but at the same time Singaporeans are fiercely protective of their local culture — and what a rare, intriguing mix it is.

Not unlike everyone and everything else in the world, this issue was in some ways affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Singapore itself was in full lockdown until a few months before we went to print. That’s why we’re even more appreciative of the efforts and support of the contributors and designers who make up this special edition of Design Anthology — to all of you, we send our heartfelt thanks. We sincerely hope you enjoy this glimpse into a vibrant and exciting place that, hopefully soon, you’ll discover is much, much more than just one of the world’s best transit hubs.

Suzy Annetta

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