Singaporean designer Hans Tan’s eye-catching collection of porcelain wares pays homage to the colourful Peranakan Chinese heritage.
The Peranakan Chinese community is steeped in a myriad of cultural influences stemming from colonial Malaya. Today, the centuries-old Peranakan presence, spread throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, can still be strongly discerned in the modern-day context of Southeast Asia, asserting its characteristic sensibility in areas such as art, crafts, architecture and food. After a memorable showing at the Maison&Objet in Paris last year when it snagged the Les Découvertes Prize, a prestigious accolade accorded to the annual event’s most inventive product, the Spotted Nyonya series—created for the creative agency FARM by Singaporean industrial designer Hans Tan—proffers a nod to the traditional aesthetic of this unique cultural group.
Focusing on brightly painted porcelain vessels that have long been associated with Peranakan domestic life, Tan delivered his own original take on the time-honoured craft using contemporary industrial methods. Basing his approach on the resist-dyeing technique often used to generate fabric patterns, Tan got to work masking the surface of each porcelain piece, swathing them in a symmetrically inclined dotted motif which stands in sharp contrast to the representational imagery detailing the exterior sections of the wares. The critical, final step in the delicate process of “rejuvenating” these objects sees Tan sandblasting these masked areas, preserving the glazed surface framed by the dots while erasing the negative space around the motif to unveil the original white bis-quit porcelain base. Accentuating the balanced, rotund forms of the wares by stripping away much of the original multi-coloured imagery, Tan’s works manage to remain staunchly faithful to the true essence of the historic objects by literally capturing a trace of the vividly-tinged past conveyed through them.