Hans Tan: “Design can be a cultural driver for Singapore”
Hans Tan has just been crowned Singapore Designer of the Year 2018 (Product & Industrial design) at this year's President's Design Awards. He was already the recipient of two Design of the Year awards, in 2015 for his Pour table and in 2012, for the now famous Spotted Nyonya series.
Having studied design in both Singapore and the Netherlands, where he graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, his works show a balanced combination of finely tuned industrial processes and knowledgeable artistic references, that is still too rarely seen in the Singapore design scene. Early on in his career (with the meaningful Petrified Victoria series in 2008, for instance, and probably earlier while studying at DAE), Hans Tan started using the most recent, refined technologies to write modern stories that can be read, each in a different way, as a testament to a rich, multi-layered cultural heritage (past, present and future). Observed carefully, his designs also reveal intricate tales of social evolution.
In an interesting interview with the Business Times, Tan discusses the delicate topic of design as a thing of beauty and culture, as opposed to the general Singaporean view of design : "The DesignSingapore Council has played a tremendous role in improving the design scene, with scholarships and businesses opportunities. However, there is one thing I feel that can be improved. We tend to see design as an economic driver. In many other countries, design is a part of art. One way to push Singapore design further is to start seeing design as a cultural driver rather than an economic one. If we can get design to be more culturally driven, we can get people to appreciate their culture more. Perhaps we could have a design museum. When we display design outside of a shopfront, we will see design differently, and not just an item to be sold. It's the same with stamps; have them in a museum and we see them as part of history and culture."
Words of wisdom...