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SINGAPORE: At this year’s Singapore Design Week (SDW), the neighbourhoods of  Holland Village and Tanjong Pagar will come to life with music performances, creative workshops, and all sorts of pop-up events courtesy of two brand-new mini-festivals.

The fifth edition of the annual event by DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) will take place from March 5 to 18, and visitors can experience these two places through the unusual lens of design.

Tanjong Pagar will play host to Singapore’s first Urban Design Festival. Organised by creative studio LOPELAB, it will feature design workshops and cultural activities, such as film screenings and music performances at Keong Saik Road. 

There will also be a “design route” through the district where audiences can encounter eight installations such as a multi-sensory “sound tunnel” at the Duxton Plain Park underpass.

LOPELAB is organising the first Singapore Urban Design Festival at Tanjong Pagar during the annual Singapore Design Week. (Photo: LOPELAB)

Meanwhile, creative agency HJGHER is presenting District Design Dialogue – Holland Village, where 10 terrace houses at Chip Bee Gardens will be opened up to a series of activities, open houses, pop-up concepts, and exhibitions related to design fields such as fashion, art and furniture. 

Literary collective Sing Lit Station, for instance, will be holding fort at a “Library” house while the “Runway” house will feature products by brands such as Just Gaya, biro, and Waiyang. The area’s cafes, restaurants and studios will also be participating in the event.

The two mini-festivals were chosen from an open call after Dsg decided to activate certain parts of Singapore as part of the annual event.

While SDW has always offered design trails, this is the first time it has consciously put the design spotlight on specific places, said Agnes Kwek, executive director of Dsg.

“We wanted people to suddenly sit up and go, ‘I’ve never thought of, say, Holland Village as a design place before. Yes, we know it for the bars and restaurants, but design? My hope is that once people see these coming alive, then more (organisers) will put up their hands next year.”

She added: “Personally, I’d love to see someone turn Jalan Besar or Kampong Glam into this (design-centric event). We just need a few great examples so people can say, okay it’s possible.”

This year’s Singapore Design Week includes The City Ramble tours, which includes dropping by places where Singapore’s creatives work, such as urban farm The Citizen Farm. (Photo: The Shophouse & Co)

In preparing for the Holland Village event, HJGHER co-founder Justin Long said it’s all about bringing the community on-board. “We wanted to do something from the ground up and everybody’s been really supportive. It’s a very creative neighbourhood and everybody is really open to interesting things.”

These two new events join other SDW mainstays such as anchor event SingaPlural and the design tours.

This year’s SingaPlural, which will be presented at the National Design Centre, will carry the theme A State In Play and will touch on the experimental process that takes place when designing products.

Curated by design studio Produce and organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council, it will feature 13 installations all over the centre, including a central pavilion that’s all about the laminate product Formica.

This year, SDW’s popular design tours comes in the shape of a newly branded The City Ramble Design Trails. 

Organised by Shophouse & Co, it comprises two tours. One will take audiences to three heritage sites: The Goh Loo Club, The Quadrant at Cecil and The Warehouse Hotel. Another tour will introduce them to the creatives working at urban farm The Citizen Farm, industrial building The Mill and Funan Showsuite. A new urban guide featuring neighbourhood recommendations by young designers will also be launched.

These bubble installations by architect group PAGAA are among the handful that can be seen along a “design route” at Tanjong Pagar during the Urban Design Festival, which is part of Singapore Design Week. (Photo: PAGAA)

“We felt it gives people the opportunity to really go into places that may not be accessible, so you can actually come and approach design in a very intimate and accessible (way). It removes this apprehension when you sometimes see a very nicely designed product put on a pedestal,” said Shophouse & Co co-founder Stella Gwee. 

“Through this format, people can just walk up to it, ask the designers questions or speak to the architects to understand the process behind their buildings.”

Aside from these, other events during SDW include a design-centric edition of the National Heritage Board’s regular BBB Arts Sprawl at the Bras Basah.Bugis Precinct; the inaugural Brainstore Design Conference, featuring leaders in the business, design and public policy sectors; the International Furniture Fair Singapore; and Red Dot Design Museum’s Market Of Artists And Designers, which features 50 makers from Singapore and the region as well as workshops.

For more details on Singapore Design Week, visit the website here.



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