Talenia Phua Gajardo, The Artling

Chilean-singaporean talenia Phua Gajardo embodies the phrase “beauty and brains”. An architecture graduate of London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins, she has worked at the world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, and now runs her own design company specialising in architecture, interior design and furniture projects. 

Talenia, who married art connoisseur and The Hour Glass’ executive director Michael Tay last December, also runs The Artling, an online art gallery that aims to elevate the prominence of Asian contemporary art to the world stage. “So many art developments are happening in Asia now,” she says. “The Artling narrows everything down, and we aim to become the ultimate resource that people go to for what’s new in the global Asian contemporary art scene.” 

Talenia and her team’s combined knowledge of architecture and art also allows the company to provide personalised services including art consultancy, artwork sourcing and curating, and managing private collections. 

Last October, The Artling started working with the Singapore Institute of Architects to hold a major architectural design competition for an 8,000sqft pavilion, which will hold an Asian contemporary art exhibition it will curate, to be built in time for the 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix in September. The contest is part of the SG50 line-up, and is sponsored by OUE and supported by the DesignSingapore Council. 

Edmund Wee | Photo courtesy of Nicholas Leong

Edmund Wee, Epigram and Epigram Books

From small home-based design agency owner to President’s Design Award 2008 designer of the year, chief executive officer, and creative and managing director of two thriving enterprises, Edmund Wee has, in over 23 years, certainly shaped the landscape of the local design and publishing industry. 

The founder of Epigram and Epigram Books didn’t begin his career in these two fields though, only falling into them after stints as a criminal psychologist with both the Ministry of Defence and Home Affairs and a journalist and design editor at The Straits Times. 

With its unorthodox approach to design, Epigram creates corporate identities, collaterals, signages and exhibition displays; in particular, it’s revolutionised annual report design by saturating them with visuals, typography, wit and some say even cheek—think publications as an X-Box game or that come with 3D visuals, glasses included. 

Branching from it is three-year-old Epigram Books, Edmund’s avenue to “champion Singaporean writers and literature” through well-designed books, which goes from having an irresistible title and cover visual to ensuring paper and printing quality are top-notch. Driven by the “intense pleasure” of a good book and a “compulsion” for publishing, he continues on his mission to keep local creativity and literature alive. 

Ricks Ang, Kitchen. Label

Ricks ang is a believer in creating memorable experiences. He and April Lee co‑founded Kitchen. Label, an independent record label, creative studio and publisher of art books based in Singapore and Tokyo (the duo are also bandmates in Aspidistrafly). They are constantly exploring beyond the boundaries of contemporary visual and aural art, especially through music.

Kitchen. Label was founded in 2008 and works with nine other like-minded artists from around the world, fearlessly experimenting with a myriad concepts for each of their releases—be it an art book or vinyl record. Rick’s ultimate goal is to deliver to their audiences a holistic aesthetic experience through objects, sounds and visuals in an attention- grabbing and thought-provoking manner. 

“The design of an album is important because most people’s first interaction with music begins when they are drawn to the cover, before discovering the music for themselves,” Ricks explains.

Kitchen. Label’s preference for a distinctly abstract, sensual experience has seen it hold three consecutive sold-out label showcases in Japan since 2011. Since the company’s popularity soared outside of Singapore, Ricks has observed other local creatives following in his footsteps with overseas collaborations, a move that he sees as exciting and necessary to inject diversity in the local creative scene.

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Tags: art, culture, Society