Close to Culture, Close to Creativity, Spot on Asia.

Articles by Chiara DC

Chiara DC

Chiara DC

Editor In Chief at OpenBrief
Chiara writes for a living, usually in transit.
Chiara DC

Vertolk: Leather, business & challenging norms.

Posted on June 26, 2016

Hong Jiun, Entrepreneur (Singapore)

Hong Jiun, Entrepreneur (Singapore)

Hong Jiun, SINGAPORE

Entrepreneur, VERTOLK

Why leather?

It is probably one of the more organic and fascinating materials out there. To know that a piece of hide you’re touching comes directly from animals after being tanned is rather intriguing. In a way, it is reusing every good part of what occurs naturally, where the skin of an animal is reused to make functional products.

Durability of a well-tanned skin is another key factor. I would say that for makers, we are concerned with how well something we make works for the client. Not just being aesthetically pleasing but also that it can serve its function continually for years to come.

On a personal level, I have always liked leather goods and am always on a lookout for unique and well-made products. This might be why I went to leather and not wood or ceramics or textiles.

Making process 2 by Vertolk

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The Everyday Revolution

Posted on February 7, 2016

IMGP3459

Sophia Tan, SINGAPORE

Founder, Managing Director of The Everyday Revolution

A framed canvas sits in the middle of a room.

Swirls of red, blue, green form a kaleidoscopic flurry; their streaks and splatters made in watercolour beg to tell a story. At first glance, the story is whimsical and jovial, as bright colours often seem to have that effect. Yet, as it goes in the world of art, one must plunge beyond the colourful surface and swim with the undertow to reach the depths of its true meaning.

Is this all too esoteric? We stand in the middle of a museum or a gallery; across a piece of artwork on display waiting to be dissected, judged, loved, understood. Whether it is a portrait made with oil or water, or a figure sculpted by hand, it simply sits there, like a puzzle to be decoded, the worth of its maker’s story waiting to be measured. Yet somehow, we manage—to grasp, to resonate, to connect. And its maker—the artist—succeeds. Beyond the price pegged for its value—or the fame and adulation that may follow—nothing could be more gratifying than the connection made with another being amidst all the layers of our expression.


Imagine the world of a person with autism, a condition defined as a developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people, as well as how they make sense of the world around them. Fortunately, more progressive and passionate advocates are emerging and enabling opportunities for people with special needs to be heard, understood, and provided a chance to participate in society.

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Tasting The World In Her Kitchen

Posted on June 30, 2015

Gabriele Galimberti, Photographer (Italy)

Gabriele Galimberti, Photographer (Italy)

Gabriele Galimberti, ITALY

Photographer, Author of In Her Kitchen

There is a reason why comfort food is called, well, comfort food.
It is food that makes you comfortable at a time you need to be; arousing feelings of nostalgia, familiarity, your forgotten childhood — resulting in a symphony of warm and fuzzy emotions with every bite.

So, what happens when a person, who hardly ever left his Tuscan hometown and was very attached to the comforts of a traditional Italian household like a proper Italian boy, must leap outside his comfort zone to explore the world as a couchsurfer and (literally) live on and off the couches of total strangers for two years?

In Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s story, he goes to his Grandma Marissa and she makes him his favourite ravioli. (As a matter of fact, he would then go off to meet other grandmas in different cities, where they not only feed him, they would also teach him how to cook their own favourite recipes and help him create a best-selling cookbook.)

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bambike trademark

Bambike’s Revolution

Posted on September 8, 2013

replanting bamboo

Bryan Benitez McClelland, PHILIPPINES

Social Entrepreneur and Founder, BAMBIKE

“If there’s a wheel, there’s a way,” as some like to use the pun. In the case of Bryan Benitez-McClelland, he took the wheel, as well as one of the most resilient trees on the planet, and started a revolution. His socio-ecological enterprise, Bambike, produces bicycles made from bamboo, and its mission goes beyond the retail business of selling specialised, custom-built bicycles to an elite market. The brand is built on a set of core values (people, planet, progress) with the earnest intention of providing solutions to some of the Philippines’ biggest problems: environmental degradation, transportation and mobility, poverty and under-utilised manpower. Using the bicycle, bamboo technology, and business, Bambike reorients how we look at consumerism and entrepreneurship in relation to the community. This is not the first time bamboo was used for lifestyle products or for innovative sustainable solutions in the country, but it’s definitely speeding things up on the road to change.

What was the idea behind Bambike?

I moved back to the Philippines in 2007, after completing my Masters in Environmental Resource Management focused on Sustainable Community Development at the University of Pensilvania. My attention was drawn to Gawad Kalinga, a community development program in the Philippines. I was interested in a project that would make a positive impact in the country. It all started as a volutourism type of project to help Gawad Kalinga create a green building program. Back in the states, I was a whitewater kayak instructor, and I didn’t see much of that here, so I seized the opportunity and started Rapid Stream Ecotours, my first business endeavour in ecotourism development. My interest wasn’t merely in starting a business to make money.

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A glass of art and science, please.

Posted on July 29, 2013

Ronald Ramirez

Mixologist, THAILAND

When did a drink get so complicated?

Gone are the days when my idea of a mixed drink was a rum and coke or a gin and tonic. There’s a new bar in the ‘hood and mixology has been spreading faster than you can say, uh, mixology. The term itself eludes me. I mean, the last time I checked, the person behind the bar mixing me some rum, lime juice, and mint leaves was called a bartender. So, when does the guy behind the bar earn a license to be called a mixologist—if there’s a license at all? To be a professional bartender, the one responsible for managing everything behind the bar and ensuring that customers are happy—and behaved, often entails completing a bartending course.

Many professional cocktail mixers are uncomfortable with the label mixologist. Regardless, the fact remains; mixology is complicated. And no mixologist in their proper mind would say, “I’m just mixing things along, I really have no idea what I’m doing.” Nobody just takes the classic margarita and hands it over in foam/gel/mist form without trained calculation and a creative imagination. Mixologists go beyond the aesthetics of a pretty drink; they dive into the human experience by digging into the chemistry (especially in molecular mixology) of spirits, playing with flavour, touch and texture, and provoking a myriad of senses that are often roused by memories and emotions.

Source: www.lebua.com

Source: www.lebua.com

On top of the world’s highest open bar and the tallest in Bangkok, I had the opportunity to learn about the art and science that goes in a glass. After years of honing his craft all over Europe and Dubai, Philippine-born Ron Ramirez is back in Southeast Asia and is the resident mixologist of lebua’s Sky Bar at Sirocco. As he blended one spirit with another and traced glass rims with herb-infused salts, Ron shared his creative inspirations and gave a peek into a regular workday of a mixologist.

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