Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Orchard Road Art Trail 2: Orchard Central Shopping Mall

Orchard Gateway, Orchard Central and 313@Somerset all connected as one shopping malls with free flows of people traffic.

Especially with Orchard Gateway and Orchard Central, one you're inside either mall, you really have no idea which mall you're in, unless you're deliberately seeking out the info. There're small signs up the top of a very high ceiling that tell you which shopping mall you're in (the signs are probably big. Just look small from down on the ground level). Even then, it's not an simple task.

The Runway in OG is trying to direct the shoppers around the OG mall so as not to move to disappear into another mall.

While it's far from the largest shopping mall on Orchard Road, it's the tallest, and it has a couple of thing to hint or emphasize that fact.

Most malls tend to design with central atriums that give shoppers a 360° view of their shopfronts. If there's such a thing in Orchard Central, it would be called the rear atrium.

Here in the rear atrium is where the Tall Girl (2009) stands at a whopping 20m tall. She draws your attention to this unique spatial architecture of this mall. Her head nearly touches the roof. This is because Tall Girl is especially commissioned by OC to place it here for the purpose that I mentioned above.

Tall Girl (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
This red boot is slightly larger than the one in Orchard Gateway.
Tall Girl (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
Showing the effect on a body when it goes through a black hole.
Tall Girl (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
Make good ad for weight loss centres or community message about anorexia.

This sculpture is created by Inges Idee, an artist collective based in Berlin. The slightly larger-than-life figurine is made of polyurethane and glass fibre reinforced gypsum on steel frame.

The perception of height is enhanced further by distorting the different proportion of Tall Girl. Her feet is made very large compare to her head. As this is designed to view from the ground level, the disproportionally small head accentuates the vanishing point and makes her looking even taller than she really is. (Next time when I visit, I'll get some photos of her boots and head along with some people in it so that one can make comparison of sizes). This is the opposite of the Parthenon where the ancient Greek architect designed it to be top heavy to correct this vanishing perspective distortion that when viewed from ground level.

Another structure that's reinforcing this idea of height is the Via Ferreta Wall. This is supposedly the tallest indoor rock-face wall for abseiling (for now until China decides to beat that record).

Via Ferreta Wall, Orchard Central, Singapore Via Ferreta Wall, Orchard Central, Singapore

Orchard Central, Singapore
Shop window cantilevers out like a drawer in a wardrobe
Orchard Central, Singapore
As seen from a skywalk with Via Ferreta in the back
Orchard Central, Singapore
Floats like a Kongming or sky lantern

I won't cover every little hidden gems of arts and sculptures around the mall. I leave you to discover them yourself. According to OC, their permanent arts display worth over S$9 million.

I'll cover their most well known roof garden. Take their glass walled elevator to get to level 10, and then take the stairs to the roof. That's where I took my brother and his wife when they visited me.

On level 11, you'll find a colourful diorama of Yayoi Kasama's works, showing her 2 favourite elements of polka dots and tulips.

"Let's Go to a Paradise of Tulips" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
"Let's Go to a Paradise of Tulips" (2009) by Yayoi Kasama.
Ya, Yayoi, let's go !

"Let's Go to a Paradise of Tulips" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
Barking up the wrong tulip?

My sis-in-law showed me her mobile phone's wallpaper. which is another work by Yayoi Kasama, showing the similar child-like playfulness, somewhat psychedelic bright colour, and circles galore.

On level 12, you'll find a rooftop garden.

"Let's Go to a Paradise of Tulips" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
From level 12, not only you can see the diorama, you can also get a good aerial view of
Emerald Hill with low-rise brown roofed buildings. OG@Emerald Hill is the blue tower on the left.

These several sculptures in this rooftop garden are works by Victor Tan. A well known local artist, Visually-impaired, who chooses to create sculpture out of the difficult medium of metal wires.

"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009) by Victor Tan

There's only one slinky sculpture being suspended above the stairs. The 2 figures on either side, like the 2 men in yellow jacket are reflections from the wall, producing the optical illusion that there're 3 sculptures.

"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
View on the top of stair, we can see that there's only 1 figure, and it's climbing up the stairs.
"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore

"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
"The Stair, the Clouds and the Sky" (2009), Orchard Central, Singapore
Shake like a leaf in the wind...

Because the loose and springy metal wires that form these human figures, they're designed so that they can spring to life by breezes.

Ginger flower, Alpinia purpurata, red ginger
Flower of Alpinia purpurata, red ginger
Ginger flower bud, Alpinia purpurata, red ginger

"Nutmeg Grove" (2009) by Michelle Righetti, Orchard Central, Singapore
"Nutmeg Grove" (2009) by Michelle Righetti

This large sculpture sits on the sidewalk of Orchard Road near OC's main entrance. This bicycle helmet looking sculpture is in fact a nutmeg seed, which is one of the 3 major spices that grew in orchards in the 1840s that lined either side of this road, giving rise to its name.

Go to Orchard Road Art Trail 3: ION Orchard  

Orchard Road Art Trail 1: Orchard Gateway Shopping Mall

Going to Orchard Road could be a wealth hazard. Your pocket could be hit hard and takes weeks or months to recover. If you're lucky like me who are totally immune to the affliction of shopaholism, completely blind to the big red 50% sales posters (oddly enough, my vision is restored if the sale sign is 90% off), you're safe to cruise down Orchard Road, and enjoy what it has to offer without costing a cent. Yes, there're a lot arts to look at in Orchard Road if you know where to look.

Maybe you can leave your partner on a spending spree, and instead of dozing off at lounges in fashion stores, you can go and stimulate yourself by doing some arts loving around town.

3 shopping malls on Orchard Road that I think provides good art trails to explore. They happen to be the ones that go the extra miles to gain visibility: ION Orchard, Orchard Gateway and Orchard Central. And so hardly surprising, when Xmas comes, these 3 also going all out in its decorations (see it here).

Other than visibility, All 3 also try to distinguish themselves from the rest by incorporating modern and contemporary art and sculpture pieces into their malls to impart it an artistic vibe, a touch of chic.

All these commonalities that these 3 malls share are perhaps not surprising when you realise that they all new malls (less than 5 years old) and thus represent a new type of malls that set a new trend and branding. As they're new kids on the block, they simply have to work harder to wow
and woo customers from the more established malls that littered Orchard Road.

With only a narrow frontage left for OG to place a shopping mall, it solves the problem by expanding into the other 2 axes, going vertically and across the road by connecting the 2 halves of OG with a glass-walled sky-bridge called the Tube. Talk about attention grabbing. It's the equivalent of a building sticking out its slender leg into the street to stop traffic (and getting whistles from admirers looking up). The sky-bridge also double up as big snazzy signboard.

The Tube that connects the 2 Orchard Gateway malls, Orchard Road, Singapore
The Tube that connects the 2 Orchard Gateway malls

Orchard Gateway @ Emerald Hills, Orchard Road, Singapore
The curved tower of Orchard Gateway @ Emerald Hill

Speaking of lower limb. At OG's entrance, you'll see a large singular red shoe (I'm guessing it's size 25 that fits the foot of Goliath or the Giant who lives at the castle high in the sky at the top of the beanstalk. Yes, even legends shop at Orchard Road). Is this just a a solo shoe? Step into the shopping mall, walk (or doing catwalk if you must) the cool looking Runway towards the opposite door, you will find the other long-lost missing twin. It's like a typical teenage (giant) bedroom with pair of shoes scattering at its 2 opposite corners of the room.

The Red Shoe outside the Orchard Road entrance, Orchard Gateway, Singapore
The Red Shoe outside the Orchard Road entrance
The Red Shoe inside the Somerset Road entrance, Orchard Gateway, Singapore
The Red Shoe inside the Somerset Road entrance

At the bend of The Runway, you will see a few bow-tie shaped benches, and a few dummies that share these seating with the shoppers. There's also a rest bench in the shape of a pair of sunglasses, and another a wristwatch.

Rest Bench, Orchard Gateway, Singapore
The Dummy balances precariously on the seat. It fell in the next moment.

The Runway decorated with the Chinese zodiac animals during Chinese New Year.

While you're in OG, you might want to go to level 4, and stroll into into Library@Orchard (if you don't mind the smell of book. I hate ebooks. It's body smell metallic and you can't bend its spines backwards, and worst of all, making dog-ears with a steel plier is a real pain). This is a public library quite unlike others you most likely have come across. It takes on the trendy style that befitting OG. It's the  library equivalence of the Pinnacle@Duxton, which is a showcase of public housing.

Library@Orchard, Orchard Gateway, Singapore
Conical cubicle designed for optimal privacy, quietness and comfort.

Library@Orchard, Orchard Gateway, Singapore

Library@Orchard, Orchard Gateway, Singapore
Fully automated book borrowing system

Next to this stylish public library is probably the most stylish barbershop you've come across. The shop is called Premium Barbers, and you wouldn't call them a barbershop. They call themselves more appropriately as Barber Spa as they offer anything from the old fashioned lather shave, Mani-Pedi (pedicure for man), foot reflexology, and even body massage. Oh, did I mention they also provide haircut?

Just like the name suggests, this place combines the services of a traditional manly barbershop with the services of a girly day spa. In short, this shop is catered specifically for the metrosexual guy.

While you're waiting or put your feet up (while someone working on it), you can knock back a few coldies, liquor, or sip a cappuccino. So you now know where to get some pampering after you drop from all that shopping (or waiting for your partner to shop).

Premium Barbers, Orchard Gateway, Singapore Premium Barbers, Orchard Gateway, Singapore

Premium Barbers, Orchard Gateway, Singapore

Sunday, 22 March 2015

DesignSatge Exhibition at Museum of Art and Design

A few art and design exhibition occurred in March. After getting a taste of my last visit to a design event early this month to Heatherwick Studio in National Design Centre that whet my appetite, I'm wanting for more. And so I went to see the DesignStage 2015 exhibition that's taking place in MAD (Museum of Art and Design). I decided to catch it before it ends.

Design Stage, MAD, Singapore

Most Taoist temples are guarded by door gods, or the 4 Heavenly Kings. I guess MAD is guarded by the 4 Barrels of Laughs or 4 LOLs. Maybe he's angry. Like Incredible Hulk, the series of 4 figure illustrates that he grows in size as he turns from red to black, signalling he's getting MAD (nothing to do with this museum. Or does it?).

sculptures, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Sculptures at the garden, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
The MAD has 2 floors. The gallery for the exhibits are found upstairs, while the MAD shop and cafe could be found downstairs. Methink.

Squirrel on the tree of the MAD garden
Wished I bought along my 200mm lens. You never know when a squirrel would suddenly appear on a tree in the MAD garden. They're so very shy and jumpy.

On the counter of the main entrance (I came in through the garden side entrance) sit a row of toys from Flabslab (I just realise they have a gallery practically next door to my place. I'll drop in there sometimes). They're all cute toys with the majority (that I saw in MAD) that dreate crossovers between fictional and factual icons. Here's a sample of them in MAD.

Flabslab toys, Singapore
UltraBudda? Actually called Sitting Gaia, combining Japanese comic hero Ultraman with Budda.
And MacJesus? Actually called Willy (with an upside down "M") standing on a hill of hambergers.

Like their creations, it's hard to classify if they're toys or sculptures. If they're toys, they're toys that only adults could afford. They price from hundreds to thousands of Singapore dollars.

Flabslab toys, Singapore
"Star Wars Sphinx" by Francesco de Molfetta
Flabslab toys, Singapore
"Darth Mike Tyson" by Michael Leavitt

Museum of art and design, Singapore
miniature world inside a dome

Ok, I'm heading upstairs for the DesignStage 2015 exhibition. Mind your head !

These whole set of furniture are made of planks of plywood that looks like English alphabets. They're put together without nails.

DesignStage 2015, Joel Chin & Elmy Thong, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Joel Chin & Elmy Thong from Singapore

The bookniture folds up like a book, store it into a bookshelf. When needed, open it and turn it into furniture.

DesignStage 2015, Mike Mak, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
DesignStage 2015, Mike Mak, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Mike Mak from Hong Kong

These Animal Chairs are individual hand made, and took the artist an average of 10 weeks to complete each chair.

Maximo Riera, DesignStage 2015, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Maximo Riera from UK
Maximo Riera, DesignStage 2015, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore

Maximo Riera, DesignStage 2015, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore

Making cultural icons cheeky is what the next artist does.

Saran Yen, DesignStage 2015, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Saran Yen from 56th Studio in Thailand

This artist like to ride bicycle, and so he decides to create pictures of iconic structures of the world based on bicycle tyre tracks. He tried to make 100 copies of this.

Thomas Yang, DesignStage 2015, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Thomas Yang from Singapore

These objects may look like a pair of bunny heads to you, they're in fact called Sqoosh, which is a baby version of the Squeeze bench. I can see many possibility where I can position myself. But I rather not say.

Patrick Chia, DesignStage 2015, Museum of Art and Design, Singapore
Patrick Chia from Singapore

By the way, if your fringe is getting in the way of your looking at the exhibits, you can blow your fringe with your mouth. But the more permanent solution would be getting rid of it in a barbershop inside the museum right among the gallery. Or is it one of those performing art in action?

Barbershop inside MAD. Pretty crazy?

When I finished looking, it was raining cats and dogs, which was a little unusual for March. I decided to have  a coffee, which caused my stomach to churn. So I ordered a grilled mid-joint chicken wings for it. Didn't expect it to come out all flatten out. This is chicken wings deconstructed.

I had been to similar events before, but this was quite enjoyable. Perhaps I was in a receptive mood. Or that they aren't trying to be pretentious at all. Or something else. Let me know if you've found out the answer.