Let James Quan and Winnie Chan of Bynd Artisan take you across the various artists’ enclaves in Singapore.
1 Chip Bee Gardens
“We’re in an era where we’re looking at ourselves, becoming more design-centric, supporting local creators,” Winnie says. To fully understand the blossoming potential of Singapore’s design scene, make your first stop at Holland Village. A creative enclave and one of Singapore’s hippest neighbourhoods, this borough buzzes with the activity of designers, artists, and artisans.
Spend the morning with an ice cream from Sunday Folks in hand while exploring Chip Bee Gardens, which stretches along Lorong Merah Saga. The street is home to a range of contemporary restaurants, local fashion labels and art galleries.
Fashion lovers seeking to express their unique sensibilities with threads from a local label should definitely consider visiting Ong Shunmugam. Priscilla Shunmugam, the passionate founder of the label, collaborated with Winnie and James in 2016 on a pair of clutch bags, marrying the former’s discerning eye for textiles with Bynd Artisan’s knowledge of leatherworking tradition.
2 Bynd Artisan
Expand your artistic sensibilities at Bynd Artisan’s largest store in Chip Bee Gardens. This atelier is a haven for stationery lovers, who’ll be able to pick from a wide selection of handcrafted notebooks, peruse the leather products and stationery on display, and even take part in a variety of workshops. More than just goods, stationery lovers will walk away with a further understanding of both arts and craft of bookbinding.
Since it first launched in 2014, Bynd Artisan has frequent collaborations with other creative enterprises and individuals. So don’t be shy to ask the passionate staff for a tour around the store, and to tell you about the latest collaborations on display.
A labour of love for both James and Winnie, the passion on display at Bynd Artisan can be seen in all members of the organisation, from its founders to its service staff and craftsmen. “It has been very rewarding to see how the brand has grown and gained recognition in a short span of time. This has instilled a founder’s mentality within many employees and encouraged ourselves as founders to continue giving it our all,” James shared.
3 Dempsey Hill
Spend the afternoon hunting for a keepsake that best expresses your individuality at Dempsey Hill.
Nestled in lush greenery, Dempsey Hill is a great place for an artisanal shopping experience. Collectors of antiques should make a beeline for Woody Antique House—which stocks a range of Asian period pieces, furniture and curios—while the fashion-minded should browse the racks at high fashion concept store and multi-brand retailer, Dover Street Market. Lovers of artisanal wares are certain to hone their sense of aesthetics while perusing the inspired designer collections on display.
4 Gillman Barracks
Pay a visit to Gillman Barracks, a visual arts cluster housed within a former military barracks that was first built in 1936. Art aficionados hoping to expand their collection or to gain insight into Singapore’s burgeoning art scene should explore the many galleries housed within the space. Gillman Barracks’ signature event, Art after Dark, is held in January and September, and in conjunction with Singapore Art Week during its run in January. This event features talented artists from Singapore and across the globe, art exhibitions, and craft markets for the discerning collector.
“Gillman [Barracks] could be the next big enclave for creative craftsmen,” James observes. “It’s such a big space, with these colonial buildings.”
Art lovers should also drop by FOST Gallery, named by Blouin Artinfo as one of Asia’s top galleries in 2013. Stephanie Fong, the owner of the gallery, is a friend of James and Winnie, and shares their love for showcasing and working with fellow Singaporean and Asian artists.
After an afternoon hunting for artisanal treasures and curios, you’ll be able to break for dinner at Naked Finn. One of Winnie’s favourite restaurants to eat at when she visits the area, the seafood establishment has won plaudits from various editorials and publications, ranging from Conde Nast Traveller to The Straits Times.