Forward Thinking | History Making
‘Atelier’ has its origins in French and is more commonly associated with fashion, at least when I come across it for Wottoncool. But with a definition that means ‘workshop’, it comes as no surprise that the Bynd Artisan showcase and retail space takes on this name (and, arguably, title).
Having previously blogged about them here, I had the chance to preview their Atelier at 2 Chin Bee Avenue which I presume is zoned as an industrial area. I can only imagine the uncomfortable shifting in their seats that the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) peoples must have done when the request and plans were first submitted for a functioning retails extension to be added to their current factory premises.
I can’t imagine they’ve (meaning URA and JTC) gotten very many of such requests. And I applaud the Bynd team for their daring.
Well all worked out well because the space, designed by &Larry and conceptualized with the help of architectural firm LAANK, the space was a beautiful meld of past, present and Bynd’s history.
Bynd is the brainchild of Winnie Chan, a third-generation member of the Goy Liang Book-Making family. Under her father’s helm, there business was renamed Grandluxe, whose legacy as paper and stationary makers can be traced to post World War II Singapore.
Bynd combines 100 years of traditional bookmaking and leather craftsmanship with a breath of something I can’t quite describe other than ‘now-ness’.
In a time where buzzwords such as ‘craftsmanship’, ‘artisans’ and a resurgent interest in everything and anything made by real hands, not robot or mechanized ones, Bynd reinvents (and expands) the roles of their long-serving craftsmen, to not just create beautiful product, but also share the processes, tell their stories, and imbue the intrinsic values of handmade products. Beyond a singularly self-explanatory yet limiting statement of ‘(Hand-) Made in Singapore’ that one may find on their purchase.
In their newly built Atelier, an old printing machine sat in the middle of the space, separating the product showcases, from the workshop area. I wished the machine would be operating, but the staff very sweetly apologized that this machine was no longer functional and used for decorative purposes only. Instead, music by Gentle Bones was piped through the space, soothing and unobtrusive as you went about exploring the space.
Beautiful products sat on shelves, inviting and beckoning for a browse.
I hope the company teams up with the likes of OIC Singapore and RSCLS for collaborations, and the likes of Dawn Ng, Robert Zhao, Donna Ong, Royston Tan and SpeakCryptic for art/film/photography collaborations and maybe even Noise Singapore for something cool?
That said, they already have a collaboration with &Larry (more on this below) and upcoming collaborations with photographer John Clang and musician Gentle Bones.
I thought the Quadro bag (below) was very interesting. A simple design that can be carried four different ways. I realize, writing this now, I never peeked inside at the pocket/compartment situation. Am kicking myself that I didn’t!
Their product range includes an array of books and paper products, as well as an assortment of leather goods. Explore their website for the full range of product.
There was also a ‘build-your-own’ notebook wall, which I had the chance to try out. It was very fun choosing all the elements. But that said, choice overload, is not a fun thing either! Hahas
The tour of the Atelier got me thinking about another article I had read earlier.
Off the bat of this Business of Fashion article, I think there are a lot of similarities between both countries about the notion of pulling together the desires of progress and preservation, not just in the fashion industry, but any industry at risk of losing the wealth of knowledge and know-how saved in the minds and hands of local artisans. Coupled with the value, perceived or otherwise, of preserving or losing these skills, I hope that we’ll see more businesses build and grown in this direction, with a focused dedication to ensuring that these skills don’t disappear.
And before you scoff, while reading this, and fell that you have no part to play in this equation. If you don’t BUY SOMETHING, from brands like Bynd. Then there’s no financial sustainability to such a model.
So grab a friend, and sign up for a workshop!
You’ll have the chance to meet Master Craftsman, Mr Chong! He held a quick demonstration of how to make your own notebook. He took less than 20 minutes to put a notebook together, I hear from past workshop participants, they took 3 hours!
So found grasshopper, there’s lots to learn.
‘Sign Of Our Times’ by &Larry
Larry Peh if the founder of &Larry, an internationally acclaimed design studio. &Larry was engaged to design the Bynd Artisan Atelier. And an extension of this engagement is a capsule of Larry’s much acclaimed “Objects” series.
This capsule features a range of leather products envisioned to contain and hold objects of importance. Think wallets, folios, document holders, trays, pockets etc. Inspiration comes from the “Danger – Keep Out!” signs found, most commonly, at the exterior of construction sites and the series effortlessly marry function and form, with a sensitivity towards the user.
Ergonomics and design, I think the two come together best with the pocket tee, which has an extra catch to prevent your sunglasses from falling out.
I kinda wished it came in a singlet/tank top form. Or as a long sleeve, collared shirt too.