For a relatively young country like Singapore, one that is just 55 years old, the tradition of porcelain is not an established one. Still, that did not stop Edwin Low, the founder of local design-led store Supermama, from creating the Singapore Blue range of porcelain as a form of visual documentation of the country’s culture and tradition. “Porcelain is a fascinating material to me. Just like the way we take photos via our phones as records of daily living, human existence [was] expressed through visuals on porcelain hundreds of years ago,” says Low.
The rich traditions and heritage of Singapore were something that Low wanted to capture in this medium. He was intrigued by how the material culture of different countries was captured on porcelain — such as Delftware from Holland, QingHua from the Ming Dynasty and Arita ware from Japan. “Yet, in Singapore, with such a vibrant mix of belief systems, there remains a lack of a kind of canvas that can record our visual cultures. So I thought, why not a type of Singapore Blue porcelain?” says Low.
Low took two unique interpretations to the Singapore Blue range. Understanding that Singapore lacked the know-how for porcelain production, he chose to have the plates made in Arita, Japan. “The plates were made by my long-time partner Kihara from Arita, a region known as the birthplace of porcelain in Japan some 400 years ago. It is interesting to know how Covid-19 didn't really affect the way we produced across borders. After I send the artwork to Kihara, the staff would translate the imagery onto a brass print plate — which acts as the mould where the print is stamped onto a porcelain plate — via a silicon jig,” says Low.
He also collaborated with 20 individuals, including actor Jeannette Aw and artist Samantha Lo, on the designs, wanting to work with a wide spectrum of people, including a 94-year old tailor, a chef, and an artist with disabilities. Although some were long-time friends, Low also contacted a number of them blindly via Instagram. The design process, was easy according to Low. “It was quite a breeze actually. I was expecting it to be a lot more difficult. Most of them were actually illustrated by the collaborators. We just did minor tweaks to make it technically viable for production.”
Currently, Singapore Blue will be on a limited run of 100 units for each design, with the brand considering keeping on one to two designs as part of a permanent collection. Within this label, Supermama will be producing porcelain under three umbrellas — Singapore Icons, Singapore Stories (with this 20-person collaboration as a start to tap on locals to tell their own stories)‚ and SG Blue X, where the brand hopes to work with artists, designers and personalities around the world.
The collection is available at Supermama's website here.
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