5 Minutes With... Industrial Designer, Nathan Yong

Art & Design

May 30, 2017 | BY Hong Xinying

The designer shares more about his sources of inspiration and his hopes for the future of design.

Industrial designer Nathan Yong. All images courtesy of Ipse Ipsa Ipsum

What keeps you inspired?

Nathan Young I think that design inspiration stems from a passion for life and the world around you. I’m a passionate observer of everything around me—I’m like a big sponge that absorbs it all. This inspires me to ponder the essential questions about life. When you start questioning all these assumptions, you need an outlet to act on it—and my outlet is furniture design.

What was the inspiration behind the Nathan Yong x Ipse Ipsa Ipsum collection?

NY I’ve created a furniture range for Ipse Ipsa Ipsum that's inspired by the architecture of India, which looks to the regality and romance of the country. India’s rich history and culture provide plenty of visual inspiration for any designer, as it triggers all your senses through the sights, scents and sounds that you experience. We also wanted an element of surprise for this collection. You need to experience and explore these products at different angles to discover these unexpected details. For instance, the back of the vanity table mirror contains shelving for make-up and accessories, while the Udaipur sofa system comes with interchangeable accessories such as side tables and mirrors.

(Related: Absolute Must-Sees At The International Furniture Fair Singapore)

The Udaipur sofa system from the Nathan Yong x Ipse Ipsa Ipsum Collection

Tell us more about the material selection for these pieces.

NY I’ve selected materials intrinsic to India, like cowhide. We also tried to pair materials that people wouldn’t normally think of, such as stainless steel with marble. I was so amazed by how the factory of Ipse Ipsa Ipsum is so well-integrated, even between very different departments such as acrylic, metal, stone and leather—it’s like having a small village of artisans working together to create the whole collection. It also provides a creative playground for any designer, as you’re able to work with so many different materials and resources.

What were some of the technical challenges of crafting this collection?

NY A lot of my designs try to push the boundaries of how products are being made with existing techniques, while exploring new ways of construction and joineries. It pushes the artisans out of their comfort zone, to challenge them to create something new. It was quite heartwarming to see the craftsmen take such pride in what they were doing. I think that good design gives the craftsmen a reason for their trade and makes their work more meaningful.

What are your hopes for the future of the local design scene?

NY I hope that, one day, we’ll have our own design identity. I don’t have a timeline for it—it could be a decade, or maybe not even within my lifetime, which is fine because it needs to happen organically. I want to see a natural growth of our own style and visual language. We’re a very young country, so it might take quite some time. But I’d like to see it—and I hope I can be a part of it. 

(Related: 50 Most Influential in Singapore Design 2015: Beacons of Inspiration)