I HAVE A ROOM WITH EVERYTHING
Billed as Singapore’s first graphic design exhibition dedicated to print, I HAVE A ROOM WITH EVERYTHING seeks to share a collection of 200 rare and out of print materials with the public. These include works by Stefan Sagmeister, Why Not Associates, Asylum, WORK, Kinetic and H55. Some highlighted items include WERK, Guerillazines by Comme des Garcons, Club 21 and On Pedder catalogues, limited edition books by John Clang and fashion invites and lookbooks from Wunderkind and BLESS.
Walking in, you cannot help but be filled with wonder at the intricate sensual cocoon that they have weaved. Far away from the familiar noises of the streets we all know is a room full of rare and out of print materials, carefully handpicked and laid out across tables. Unlike most museums, where exhibits are locked behind glass cabinets, here visitors are encouraged to flip through the books and run their fingers over the pages. This creates a sense of belonging— as if for just a few minutes, these objects are yours. When was the last time an exhibition made you feel that way?
What Shannon Elizabeth Wee, Kari Tamura and Yanda have given to us is more than a reminder of the importance of print, but that dedication has a place in our society. As purveyors of design, and not designers themselves, this project serves as an inspiration to anyone who believes in following the path their heart lies.
Was there a precise moment when you knew you had an interest in design
Shannon: I’ve always been a creative individual and curious about art and design, having grown up with an older brother whose influence played a huge part in my interests — music, art, design, all things creative. The precise moment is hard to pinpoint but I do remember one particular incident when I was about 15. My brother Esmond had/has a massive cd collection and I used to sneak into his room to explore the different cd covers and sleeves (much to his incredible disdain). I came across The Observatory’s Time Of Rebirth CD packaging that day, I held it in my hands feeling extremely excited for a reason I didn’t quite understand back then, and very curious as to how it was made. It was designed in a way to look like someone’s personal diary, there were paperclips holding little snapshots and scribbles over the lyrics and torn pages. I spent most of that afternoon googling more about the band and immersing myself in the album’s music companied by its ‘diary’. It made the whole experience even more memorable. Since then I’ve always loved CDs that come with more personalities than just in their normal casing-and-sleeve.
How did I Have A Room With Everything go from idea to execution to a real concrete room?
S: Yanda came to me a year ago with an idea to curate an exhibition full of these printed materials we’ve both been collecting for many years. The idea was to bring together these beautiful (and mostly rare) items into an intimate setting for all to enjoy and have access to. We also noticed a lack of graphic design exhibitions in Singapore.
That was a year ago, the idea was born, I hooked him up with AlsoDoMinie and we were very excited when they agreed to come on board as collaborator. We discovered Night & Day Gallery and fell in love with this undiscovered and untouched space. I also got another good friend to join us, Kari Tamura, to help us more on the ‘business’ side of things. From there it’s been a roller coaster ride of learning which ideas to execute and which ones to let go of, as this is the first ‘real’ exhibition that we’re doing. It’s been quite a journey! We’ve been very lucky to have support from so many friends and organizations. The Design Society and Orita Sinclair have helped tremendously.
A week before our scheduled exhibition’s opening, we took 3 days to set up the space. I brought bags and boxes full of items from my actual room, and we got down to our hands and knees to build our room with everything. In many ways this really is somewhat a room of our dreams.
As this project stems from more of a personal interest than a current position within the industry, how do you feel about being about to realize this project?
S: I feel very lucky to have been part of this project. It was a tiny idea that blossomed from a desire to just share our love for print with some people, and for it to be happening and people actually coming (without any of us forcing them to!) and enjoying our room — I’m truly honored. I’m still young, and I don’t have much experience in curating exhibitions but this is certainly something i’d like to be continually involved in. I read somewhere that the most successful people are also the ones with the most opportunities. I’m nowhere ‘successful’ (yet) but I’ve been incredibly lucky to have met people and have friends who recognize my interests and give me opportunities to work on them. So I feel incredibly blessed and grateful. My heart really is overwhelmed with gratitude.
How did you meet your fellow organizers, and decide that these people would be your partners-in-crime?
S: I’ve known Yanda for quite some time now, since I was 16. We met through the wonders of the internet (embarrassingly) and from there connected through our love for design and art. I’ve known Kari since we were tiny four year olds, we go way back. She’s always been artistically inclined too, but not so much on design itself. When she heard about this project I was working on she expressed interest to help and I felt she’d help fill in the gaps that Yanda and I were struggling with. The 3 of us work very well together because we’re all incredibly different. Kari appreciates art but she also has a business side of her, being an undergraduate at NUS business. Yanda is your one-of-a-kind, quietly-brilliant artist. I’m very talkative, expressive, and creatively driven. But we’re all three very passionate people. I think that very fact gave us the green light that we could all work well together.
As a magazine with an interest in the culture of art, we would like to thank and congratulate you, for showing us that dedication has a place in Singapore’s society. What would your message be to to like-minded youths, in order to marry their interests with their activities, or their jobs:
S: Thank you! I don’t think I ought to be churning out any advice because I still feel that I am far too young to even say I’ve accomplished anything. But growing up I’ve watched and observed my brother making things happen through his interests. I’ve learnt some lessons from him:
Seek out like-minded people who either share the same interests or believe in you. Everything happens for a reason — if 6 years ago you told me I’d be working with Yanda on our first exhibition I wouldn’t have believed it. I wouldn’t have known that at 4 years old when I met Kari we’d still be close friends at 22. I’ve gotten to know truly inspirational people through just connecting on real levels of friendships. Connecting with each other is so important, I truly believe in the human connection, and as a tiny island with a society still growing, we all need each other.
These things just happen organically sometimes and life really opens doors even when we aren’t noticing. The opportunities will come if you really have the interest and passion. If they don’t, go find them. Learn something new everyday. I love learning.
I HAVE A ROOM WITH EVERYTHING
presented by Do Not Design in collaboration with AlsoDoMinie and supported by The Design Society and Orita Sinclair.
23 July 2011 — 5 August 2011
Night & Day Gallery
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