March 3, 2007

Of bamboos and nests

These inspired two designers who bagged top prizes in this year's furniture awards
By Tay Suan Chiang

TOP SEATS: Mr Low's Nest swing and Mr Pairot's Cell Collection furniture range (above) got the judges' nod in their respective categories. -- JOYCE FANG

BAMBOO SHOT: Ms Ong's Bambu lamp has a cover that can be twisted up or down to adjust the light's intensity. -- JOYCE FANG

THE humble bamboo plant provided the inspiration for a design student here to end up winning a $5,000 prize at the annual Singapore Furniture Design Awards.

Ms Ong Zhen Qi, 22, a fourth-year National University of Singapore industrial-design student, came up with a bamboo-style table lamp in response to this year's theme, Green.

She beat more than 200 other entries to win the gold prize in the Student category, which is open to full-time students in a local tertiary institution, art institution, junior college, pre-university or secondary school.

'Green reminds me of nature and growth,' she said. So she designed the Bambu, a lamp that 'grows' in height using a special mechanism.

Bird's nests and greenery were the inspiration for Mr Jerry Low, another section winner. The 35-year-old Singaporean's outdoor swing, titled Nest, won him $5,000 in the Young Designers category, open to Asia-Pacific citizens below 35 as of Thursday.

Mr Low, a designer with local firm Air Design Group and who beat 83 others for the prize, told Life! that he hoped 'these swings can be hung from tree branches in parks'.

The awards are aimed at getting students and young designers to come up with innovative furniture.

Participants were required to produce prototypes for their designs and were judged according to creativity, theme interpretation and how well their design might sell and perform.

The competition also has an Open category for worldwide participants with entries having been launched commercially. Entries were not confined to the Green theme.

Thai designer Anon Pairot beat 70 others to win the Best of the Best award and $2,000 for his furniture range, Cell Collection.

The contest, now in its 14th year, is organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council. There were 377 entries this year from 14 countries including Singapore, Australia and Thailand - up from last year's 365 entries.

Judges were Mr Nicholas Merrow-Smith, a council member of the Interior Design Confederation (Singapore); architect Aamer Taher; and designer Voon Wong, founder of voonwong&bensonsaw.

The 16 winning entries, including merit award-winners, are on display at the Singapore Expo, Foyer 1, till Monday. Admission is free. They will later be displayed at the National Museum from May 7 to June 3.