Some of my friends back in Singapore have come together in the name of design, national pride and awesomeness. Singapore Souvenirs is an exhibition held as part of the Singapore Design Festival 2009. It’s going to be held at the Old City Hall from the 20th to 30th of November, with an opening party on the 21st. The exhibition shows off some designs of products that are envisioned as souvenirs from our tiny island nation. The fact that my mates made/created/invented/dreamed them up makes me mad proud of em. So if you’re free and have something to do, you should drop that and go to the exhibition.

A lot of the stuff shows off their sense of humour and thought as well as a uniquely Singaporean perspective on things. There’s not too much Singaporean designed stuff, and much of it tends to ape whatever we can find in the West or Japan, not that that’s intrinsically bad, but just that it’s a pity our own local culture doesn’t see quite as much light. My mates though, do their darndest to shed a little bit and hopefully it’s a spark that will burn brighter in the future.

Hans’ gold plated fruitbowl, Fruitbowl Lah has been around for a while now and certainly deserves more merit than it gets. It subverts the idea of luxury and style by taking a ubiquitous plastic fruit bowl and coating it in gold, taking a pedestrian Singaporean object and turning it into something important. Which is kind of like the thread of the exhibition, taking something commonplace and everyday but giving it light and giving it life, and as a result of which, asking the question of just what Singapore design or Singapore culture should be.

This theme is replicated with Winston’s Coffeeshop Ashtrays. An avid smoker, he probably came up with the idea over 20 packs of menthol lights. In coffeeshops round Singapore, you always see these decrepit looking empty tins that once contained condensed milk. Their labels have been ripped off and sometimes a lid is a made with raffia string on the top and it’s used as a cheapass ashtray instead, containing the ashes of a million stinko fags and some gross and hell brown water, fermented from the juices of leftover char kway teow. This “local design” came about because of the frugality and cleverness of Singaporean coffeshop owners and it took a mad smoker to see it. So he gets it made outta ceramic, taking it to a whole new level, celebrating the small timey-ness of Singapore, a tiny island nation that prides itself on being resourceful.

There’s also plenty other stuff and peeps that deserve mentions as well, from Jieyu & Winston’s Kueh Tutu eraser to John’s Singlish Notebook to Tze’s expectedly more cerebral treatises on stamps and money, or Joe’s kinda political Kenaban chewing gum magnets, Fuxing’s 3D Postcards and Edwin’s SG Wallpaper and a helluva lot more. It’s a little arty, a little designy, a little rebellious and quite a lot of tongue in cheek. Just wish I coulda been in Singapore to see it all in the flesh.

Good stuffs guys! Keeps it up.