“I am still ashamed to be a designer as I don’t think I am a good one yet or have changed the world. And to be honest, we are never really ever happy in what we have done as I always think the best has yet to come.”
When and where were you born?
Where do you currently live and work?
I am born, bred and based in Singapore. I run a creative agency Do Not Design, focusing on building brands, content curation and brand activation. We would also like to say we do not just design, but build cult instead of just helping our clients to make a great product or service. I also run an art and design blog, theartistandhismodel.com, an exco member of The Design Society where I co-edit The Design Society Journal/Paper. I also have a publishing line where our works can also be found on the shelves in bookstores in Singapore and worldwide—Dashwood Books in New York, Tin Pin Pin in London, Utretch in Tokyo, Books B in Hong Kong, and 0fr in Paris. We have published a few titles such as “Dear Vol 1: Lost & Found”, “Architecture and the Architect”, “Singapore’s Vanished Public Housing Estates” to name a few.
I am also an independent curator, where I have curated K+ Colorplan, “I Have A Room With Everything”, Temporium in Dunlop Street, helped out curating items in Tiger Trading, a Tiger Beer pop-up store in New York, and also Victionary’s Singapore version of their CITIx60.
How long have you been practicing your craft?
Around 9 years. I am self-taught in everything from coding to design to FA. Learned human behaviour, psychology, design thinking and the craft and techniques through incestuous blogging, online stalking and people watching. I came from Ngee Ann Polytechnic where I was formally trained in animation, film and programming, but I felt I got nothing out of it as I wasn’t interested in making animation for games, movies or programming.
What inspires you?
A few things; Challenges—learning from my mistakes and attaining success and appeasing my curiousity while in it. Envy—the success of others or the level of benchmark I set for myself keeps me going. Idols—business role models and peers are very important to one’s personal growth. Hope—the hope I can change the world, either by making nice, meaningful designs or by making humans care less about money, fame or success and care more about having empathy or belief in karma.
How would you describe your style /approach?
I think we spend 70% of our time doing research and strategy then the execution itself takes up the rest of the time. I always believe we have done better designs because our moodboard is better, or we have seen something, somewhere better. I am also a purist at heart—hate opportunists, hate fluff.
What has been a defining moment in your career?
I am still ashamed to be a designer as I don’t think I am a good one yet or have changed the world. And to be honest, we are never really ever happy in what we have done as I always think the best has yet to come. And more often, we might just be a tool for our clients to make them richer or their product or services sell better. So there are no defining moments yet, until the time we get paid millions for just a branding project.
What are your future plans?
We are trying to divide our time between commercial work, personal projects and our own publishing line—with more titles to come. The next issue of “Dear”, a Tokyo version of our Architecture and the Architect book, and some design related coffee table books. A summer school is also in the pipeline as a way to give back to society. Also trying to form a research and development department in my team so that it can assist more in our projects, be it in branding, books, or product or installation.
Can you leave us with some parting words or advice?
“We are made up of the things we have seen or the people we have met.”
“What’s your point of doing this?”
“Friendly rivals with your peers is very very importance in growth in your work. So is being humble, and self reviewing all the time.”
“Set your benchmark higher, always compare yourself with the greats and work yourself towards it.”
“We need to seek the importance of having empathy and belief in karma to find greater success.”
Where can people learn more about you and purchase your work?