Photo Credits: LOVE SG
This article is part of a series by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) Singapore to showcase various aspects of the local design community. This story features Kevin Choe, Founder and Creative Director of LOVE SG.
Could you share with me a little about the origins of the business? How did it start? Why did it start?
Kevin Choe (Photo Credits: LOVE SG)
I founded LOVE SG in 2010 after realising that there was a lack of cool Singapore souvenirs for both locals and tourists to buy. I wanted to create a line of souvenirs which broke with tradition, and that could appeal to both locals who wanted to celebrate the Singapore identity, and tourists who wanted a keepsake from their trips here.
(Photo Credits: LOVE SG)
In order to appeal to locals I steer clear of producing anything stereotypical, kitschy, or clichéd. I do, however, still try to celebrate local icons through my work. For example, instead of representing the Merlion through a conventional medium such as a t-shirt, I created the “Swimming Merlion Ice Cube Tray”. The tray creates Merlion-shaped ice cubes that float in your drink as if they were swimming, and is one of our most popular items.
I also created Singlish Bracelets with engravings such as "Happy Like Bird". These, too, have become a favourite amongst both locals and tourists who are curious about our local lingo.
What are your thoughts on the local design industry? Do you feel like it is one that is thriving?
Yes, I think ever since the government invested more into art and design through new schools such as Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)and School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA) and through events such as Singapore Design Week, locals have taken a keener interest in design be it the decor of their home or the clothes they wear. This has led to the general population becoming more discerning when it comes to design, and, in a way, this has led to those in the design industry having to continually improve themselves to stay relevant.
With the push towards a digital society, have you employed digital technologies in your business processes?
From the very start, LOVE SG had an online store. More recently, the store has also been optimised for viewing on mobile devices. In addition, I am able to track orders and process them via an e-commerce app for my mobile phone. These technologies are definitely a help to my business. However, there is of course the need to protect our data against cyber threats such as hacking or viruses.
What challenges does the company face, or what challenges that it foresee facing in the future?
Photo Credits: Design Driven Goods
Apart from LOVE SG I have also been busy with growing its sister brand — Design Driven Goods, which currently specialises in neon lights. I’d like to be able to grow the range of products that I am able to offer; creating and prototyping new types of products not yet in existence. One challenge I face is the protection of the intellectual property of these products, as well as managing the high costs of registering patents globally.
If you could choose just one item from the most recent collection to save in a fire (touch wood!), what item would that be?
Hmmm, I’d probably save all my product prototypes.
What is in the immediate future for the company? Any exciting projects coming up that you’d like to share with us?
For LOVE SG, I’m in the midst of launching a collection of 6 Merlion themed products over the course of the next half year. Each one takes a fair bit of time to prototype and 3D-model, but I think the wait will be worth it as it’s something no one else has done before. As for Design Driven Goods, a series of 7 new neon designs will be released soon in a smaller size format compared to the first release and also at a lower price. I’m excited to see the response.