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Articles tagged “design

Vertolk: Leather, business & challenging norms.

Posted on June 26, 2016

Hong Jiun, Entrepreneur (Singapore)

Hong Jiun, Entrepreneur (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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Credit: Satoshi Hashimoto -

No Experience Required

Posted on October 1, 2013

Times change. And it changes brutally fast.
At the rate of yesterday’s knowledge becoming irrelevant and impending possibilities of more jobs and services becoming automated, it begs the question that in this day and age what does having certification mean for a designer?


Design critic Corin Hughes-Stanton once suggested that “design will become more aesthetically adventurous”, and I do not see why it should be any different for design education. Subjectively, certification for designers is unnecessary, because as overused it may be, eagerness for good design and the catalyst of passionate learning will forever be the imperative factors. The contrast between the two is that while the latter pushes developmental skills (self-taught) and design inquisitiveness, the former primes the graduate for the industry ahead — an odd logic seeing that certification has little significance on creative hiring. Furthermore, you will never find designers flaunting their certifications in front of their Portfolio Night booths.


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Reflections on Scandinavia II

Posted on September 26, 2013

It is here that I reference my experience in Scandinavia, where I spent a summer moving through Sweden and Finland meeting curators, academics, policymakers, businessmen, artists, and mostly importantly, the Scandinavians. The Scandinavian model is internationally revered in its successful implementation of the social welfare system; a system that brings about virtuous cycles of trust in its communities apart from the nuts and bolts of the system that involves high taxes on citizen’s annual incomes to fund systems such as national education, healthcare systems, and strong maternity packages, to name a few. The nations share an entangled history of overlapping geographies and languages, travelling along tangents but ultimately carving out their own respective independence. It is precisely this acute combination of shared histories, geographies and cultural influences that allow for comparison and critique. Despite the many similarities, Sweden and Finland stand far apart in the state of their art markets at present day.

Paimio Sanatorium by Alvar Aalto

Paimio Sanatorium by Alvar Aalto


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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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Off to a Good Start

Posted on September 4, 2013

Conversations with millennial friends are beginning to look more and more like the calm before the storm; starting off with the universal “How are things?” opener, right before the waterworks of gossips, criticism and grumbling are unleashed upon your ears faster than you can even take a sip off your pint. 

“How is work?”


This million-dollar question, perhaps assessing your contentment of life, is possibly the number one cause of frowns in the millennial age. Where topics such as how they hate their jobs, horrible directors, client nightmares, meager paychecks, overtime mileage and non-existent weekends have become the usual suspects domineering most table-top conversations. This million-dollar question here is about job fulfillment. It has to be said, if the chatter about slogging in the shadow of others, ‘grass is greener on the other side’ pep talk, and trading office horror stories remains persistent throughout the conversation, it could be more than just regular beer-o’clock rants, but rather, red flags to an impending burnout — a common syndrome (which stats claim are affecting more females than males) despite the current generation’s employment and equality improvements – that is plaguing the millennial generation. Where the answer to that question leads to is another question, through a grim path of job-hopping and career switching.


“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.” – Myrna Loy


Such are the somber state of talk amongst millenials these days. It is as if ingrained in these working-class youths, exist nothing but desires for future circumstances to be better than the current; a rebellious stubbornness to make most of present time and know that having expectations is likely the impediment to their successful dream. But who could blame them? As the global population of competitive millenials reaches 40 million, all vying for good seats in the workforce, it is no wonder everyone is inching further on the edge. Mistakably, most of them spend more time prioritizing their expectations than prioritizing their priorities—if they even knew what these were in the first place. A real shame, for what they have yet to realize is that this competitive ball is not in their court, but rather, in the employers’. Because in this Connected Age, and supported with the insurgence of newly invented/hyphenated job titles, the students entering the workforce are now smarter than their employers.


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