Inspired by memories of his daily life, the Singaporean designer, Nathan Yong, creates furniture and objects that are infused with his own experiences in order to add a touch of elegance to people’s homes. Raised in a seaside cabin, he made his first toys when he was a little boy, with his brother “with whatever material we happened to find on the beach and could pick up. This defining experience, together with others from my childhood, helped to define who i am and what i do today.”
If this longing for the Natural surroundings of his childhood is what characterises his work “within this concrete Jungle that is Singapore”, then Nathan Yong’s creations can also be deciphered as the outcome of his unquenchable curiosity, a decisive starting point for a rich and varied life journey. A graduate in industrial design at Temasek Polytechnic, he started his career as a buyer, involving himself in the development of products for various furniture companies based in Singapore. “What attracted me then was to understand the techniques and production issues at play in order to improve the creative process as a designer”. From then on, Nathan Yong travelled around Asia to find high end craftsmen and producers, people who possess the expertise and techniques which, to this day, he strives to recreate through his designs.
“Asia has many hubs of arts and crafts production, their high potentials deserve to be more widely recognised and brought up to date in terms of both function and production methods.” In 1999, armed with this knowledge of local craftsmanship, he moved onto creation and opened Air Division, a small shop to sell his experimental creations made by Asian producers, as well as an assortment of local and international design objects.
He is the first Singaporean designer to partner with high end brands such as Ligne Roset. Always keen to go that extra mile, he resumed his design education by studying at the New South Wales University in Australia and eventually got a masters with distinction.
These years of studying have confirmed his intent on promoting his ideas for a humble and free-flowing design, primarily born out of experience and fully committed to its users. “I see my job as a blue collar work: the purposes of my objects are to offer simple solutions to daily problems as opposed to simply offering useless effects”.
A strong defender of frill free design, away from any stardom, he earnestly expresses himself by encompassing several fields of activity. Aswell as being the artistic director of Grafunkt, a local editing house which spotlights Asian talents, he manages his own brand Folks Furniture as well as heading up his eponymous creation studio. Furthermore, he collaborates with big international brands such as Ligne Roset, Living Divani, or Design Within Reach. A prolific creator engaged in numerous projects, Nathan Yong fends off the idea that he is a multi-faceted man, and prefers defining himself in relation to the diversity of the users he serves “I always do the same designer work, I just answer to different users’ needs through my various activities. My goal remains the same each time which to bring them the best available solutions.” Focused on humans, his creations funnel the designer’s imagination to better question his contemporaries: “I prefer my furniture not to be taken for granted and that the users discover its purpose by themselves. For example, my Break Stool for Cinna may look somewhat barmy and dangerous at first glance; however the crack I drew grants it its curved look which ultimately makes it structurally more stable and comfortable.” For Designerbox, Nathan Yong defies the law of gravity and equilibrium yet again by coming up with Sputnik, a desk accessory with an “out in space” look, intrinsically weighted thanks to the use of marble.
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