On the Plus Side

Interview by Caitlin de Laure
Photographs courtesy of K+

From the award-winning design and advertising agency, Kinetic Singapore, comes K+ Curatorial Space, a stepping stone for local artists and craftspeople to be recognised by Singapore first, and then the world. What goes into making a city conducive for the arts to bud and blossom? While government initiatives are indispensable, it’s truly heartening when independent local businesses are as invested.

With back-to-back exhibitions and workshops, K+ has multiplied to three units in Scotts Square—each offering a unique experience. Pann reveals the motivations behind this project and the importance of communal spaces in building a sustainable arts scene.

k+

Please tell us what K+ represents.

The letter “K” is derived from Kinetic, and it’s paired with a plus sign to signify collaboration because it wouldn’t have been possible without the joint effort of the artists, designers and brands we’re featuring.

The space was set up to showcase under-the-radar or new artists, designers and brands, especially local ones. This cause is especially dear to us as an independent local agency; we strongly believe it’s high time to change the perception that local is somehow second-class. Through K+, we hope to raise the profile of local talent and elevate their works by giving them a platform to shine in the heart of Orchard Road.

K+ started in January 2015. Please tell us what moved you from thinking about it to doing it.

It started with Uu 3D Custom Figurines in 2013. Having chanced upon this amazing collaborator in Japan back when 3D printing was still very new, we thought it would be wonderful to introduce Singaporeans to 3D printing by allowing them to create 3D miniatures of themselves. So, we opened a pop-up store and flew our Japanese partners down for a month. Beyond the retail aspect, we saw an opportunity for us to learn from the Japanese because their technology and techniques were so much more advanced. Over the course of the month, we invited local 3D and design studios, students and industry professionals to come for free workshops at our pop-up.

This notion of sharing knowledge and helping local studios grow sat well with us. One year later, we decided to act on it by showcasing our local talent, as well as inviting more worthy international talent here to learn from them.

To some extent, the timing of our decision was also affected by the economic situation. Recession was looming: brands had to close down as they couldn’t pay rent and malls started seeing empty shopfronts, which was also very undesirable. We were concerned that many good brands might not make it through, so we took it upon ourselves to play middleman and put the two together. We searched for malls that shared our vision and were very lucky to acquire the support of Scotts Square.

What’s different about your gallery space?

Our collaborators come first because they are the reason why we set it up in the first place. What makes it special for us is not how much money we can make, but what the artists and designers gain from their K+ collaboration. By providing a stage for local talent to shine, we hope our efforts will snowball into a better future for the Singapore art and design scene.

We want to present artists who have not had an opportunity to show their works at a significant level, artists like Keng Lye and his amazingly hyperrealistic art, and Miun who has just started her journey in creating a totally new form of mixed media sculpture using laminates and preserved plants. When it comes to international talent, we look for those who can serve as inspiration; furthermore, we hope to create collaboration opportunities between these international talents and our local ones to help local art spread its wings, in a sense.

We are actually very proud and excited to have brought together Keng Lye and ceramic artist Johnson Tsang from Hong Kong, two very talented and humble artists. Upon meeting, they thought really highly of each other and decided to collaborate. Johnson would sculpt the ceramic vessels first and Keng Lye would then added his resin aquatic creatures.

Read more in The U Press N˚11 (Singapore edition).