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Can Metal Really Be Turned To Gold?

A group of new generation designers from Singapore challenge the boundaries of designing and making by bringing a new kind of creative chemistry into the mix. The results will surprise you! Alice Blackwood reports.

Can Metal Really Be Turned To Gold?

Top Photo: Alessandro Brasile

There’s a certain alchemy to our creative process – a melding of skills, learnings and tools that transforms the kernel of a concept into a real idea or functioning object. The Alchemists, a presentation of concepts from 15 Singaporean designers, in a similar way explores the magic that happens between designing and making, and showcases the experimental – and often functioning – results.

Presented at the Triennale di Milano this month, as part of the 2015 Milan Design Week, The Alchemists takes inspiration from the 1970s Italian movement known as Studio Alchimia, a radical creative crusade that challenged the norms through transformation of ordinary materials into precious – such as metal into gold.

Photo: Alessandro Brasile

Looking to emulate this back-to-front, something-from-nothing culture of making, The Alchemists recruited 15 of Singapore’s new generation designers. Designers were invited to creatively investigate design language, mythologies and philosophies, re-shaping the very tenets of design to present new-look concepts that might just work.

Tiffany Loy
Textile Transmutations by Tiffany Loy. Photo: The Primary Studio

From the cauldron of experimental ideas came offerings such as ‘Textile Transmutations’ by Tiffany Loy who developed acrylic moulds to augment the form of polyester fabric. The rich texture that flows throughout the material is the result of this new making process, and even sits around the body as a wearable sculptural form.

Olivia Lee Float
Float by Olivia LeePhoto: The Primary Studio

A philosophical piece from Olivia Lee, the ‘Float’ table features a series of freshly-picked lotus leaves suspended in all their vital, green glory in an age- and time-defying resin. “Float amalgamates colliding ideals for a new generation of Asians: the desire for traditional signifiers of peace, fortune and tranquillity as represented by nature, and the reality of living in urban high-rise environments,” writes Olivia.

Aura Tropicale by OutofstockPhoto: The Primary Studio

A favourite among visitors to the exhibition in Milan was ‘Aura Tropicale’ from Outofstock. As visitors neared the series of bobble-like pieces the scent of lemongrass teased the nose. The bobbles in question are repurposed ceramic filters, porous shafts filled with hundreds of tiny triangles. These form a honeycomb structure that becomes the perfect receptacle for holding oil and scent, and diffusing aroma slowly over time.

Yong Jieyu
Time & Space by Yong JieyuPhoto: The Primary Studio

Could these new discoveries and innovations lead to new commercial opportunities for these 15 designers? It’s hoped so. For Yong Jieyu whose fictional clock, ‘Time & Space’, prompts us to question just what time looks like, it may be a shift in thinking and perception that is the ultimate outcome. ‘Time & Space’ invites us to experience the perpetual movements of time passing – a phenomenon that is highly inaccurate and hardly measurable, and yet a nice reminder that it’s the space between concept and reality that is home to real creative chemistry.

Photo: Alessandro Brasile

The Alchemists project was organised by Industry+ and supported by the Design Singapore Council.

The Alchemists

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