Creative Weekly: NS 'Square', Gallery and Co folds, Graphic Design Archive, An Evolution of Interracial Love
National Day news was a welcome distraction from the overdose of coronavirus coverage. For the first time, we have a creative weekly with only one coronavirus story!
PM Lee unveiled the design of NS Square during his annual National Day Message. The development, which would replace the existing Marina Bay Floating Platform, was designed by architectural firm WOHA, of Parkroyal at Pickering fame.
The most striking feature of NS Square is the circular stage design, in defiance of mathematical theory. The default stage design features a gigantic SG brand logo, leaning deeper into the Red Dot nickname which was once intended to be an insult.
PM Lee said it would be aligned on a central axis, which is “cheem” designer talk that its presence in Marina Bay would be balanced by The Promontory on the opposite side of the bay.
NS Square would not just be an events location. Behind the curved seating gallery is a water sports facility for canoeists and kayakers, plus a swimming pool to boot.
With many non-military purposes of NS Square, its name seems off-brand. Sure, a permanent NS-themed gallery would be built to showcase Singapore’s conscription policy, but I cannot think of a steady visitor stream other than those on school excursions or government agency cohesion events.
At least rename ‘Square’ to something which reflects its curvy appearance.
Construction work is slated to begin in early 2022. In the meantime, should we give the underutilised Singapore Sports Hub another shot at hosting the NDP?
Gallery and Co leaves a trail of debt to small businesses
Gallery and Co operator ByandCo announced on August 6 that the store is now under liquidation. It is another significant blow to the local design sector, after the news of Naiise pulling out of running Design Orchard’s retail showcase just last month.
Unlike the Naiise-Design Orchard collaboration which ended amicably, Gallery and Co is alleged to have blindsided its suppliers.
The Little Dröm Store said in a statement on Facebook that communication with the firm was poor in recent months, resulting in an outstanding payment of $12,000 from sales since November 2019. It added that about $30,000 worth of products still remain in the store.
If the accusations are true, one should rightfully be enraged at this situation. Middlemen-type retailers like these have an obligation to be accountable to small business owners, regardless of the economic situation. “Covid does not cause a deficit in integrity”, as pointed out in The Little Dröm Store’s statement.
A silver lining emerged when The Little Dröm Store noticed a surge in orders after posting its statement, as supporters offered words of encouragement.
Post-pandemic, National Gallery Singapore would appoint a new operator to helm the Gallery and Co brand.
Future-Proofing Singapore Graphic Archives
The Singapore Graphic Archives, which does great work on preserving and documenting local graphic design work, aptly refreshed its website on National Day. The site now boasts artefact collections and useful search features, courtesy of web development firm Pettycache and design studio Practice Theory.
The archive was founded in 2011 by design writer and researcher Justin Zhuang. Graphic design artefacts date back to the 1950s and spread across different industries, from education to entertainment.
In the spirit of patriotism, visit the archive and be inspired at how far we have come as a city of design.
National Heritage Board x Not Safe For Work
National Heritage Board’s National Day tribute was made in collaboration with video production house Not Safe For TV. The video, titled For Your 55th, explores the growing acceptance of interracial relationships over the years.
The video which superimposed reenacted scenes of the past on current day building canvases, as tastefully done.
In the accompanying article, a Chinese-Malay couple shared about the struggles faced during their courtship days of the 1990s. Interracial marriages have since become more common, accounting for close to one-fourth of marriages as of 2018.
On a creative note, it is encouraging that government agencies are increasingly willing to partner with independent media outlets and give them full credit for their work.
Bonus: Beatty Oh’s BTO
As millennials enter adult life, businesses have to adapt their communication practices to connect with them. Local government agencies think they have found a winning formula: memes.
This play on words is one of the newest meme trends, which involves messaging lyric-sounding Facebook profiles to complete a song verse. Thankfully, Beatty Oh does not exist on Facebook - HDB posted a fake screenshot (remember PDPA).
HDB’s joke landed well because it came from a traditionally stiff government agency. It signals that it wants to be seen as approachable and keeping up with the times.
On the flip side, trying too hard would incur the wrath of the online mob. Memes do not work when they are too forceful in promotion.
Reactions to memes posted by businesses could either elevate brand status or have disastrous PR effects. Tread carefully.