* DESIGN OF
THE YEAR 2016

Bynd Artisan


&Larry Pte Ltd

Bynd Artisan was established by a third-generation business owner of Singapore’s oldest bookbinder. Its brand identity, created by principal brand and design consultant &Larry, celebrates the work of Bynd Artisan’s home-grown master craftsmen, who are schooled in the traditional ways of book-binding and leather crafting.

&Larry defined the business and design objectives, which included establishing a unique platform by building a meaningful narrative from Bynd Artisan’s rich history, and developing a visual language that reflects the brand’s heritage. In this way, it turned a spotlight on a well-loved homegrown brand and designed-in-Singapore products, creating an avenue for inspirational and collaborative processes between Bynd Artisan, its customers and collaborators.

While it designs and produces practical everyday products, Bynd Artisan’s pieces are also desirable lifestyle goods. Once reserved for VIP customers, its bespoke services are now open to anyone who appreciates individualism. Together with Bynd Artisan, &Larry has re-engineered what is widely regarded as a sunset industry business into a viable operation, by redesigning the production process and retraining the company’s craftsmen to stand at the forefront of its services.

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ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Peh Chee Way Larry, the founder of &Larry, began his design career at Men’s Folio, Singapore’s first men’s magazine. Over the years, his work has been internationally recognised with awards from the likes of D&AD (UK), One Show (New York), Tokyo Type Director’s Club, and Singapore Creative Circle Awards. He was voted by Perspective Global as one of the top 40 design talents under the age of 40 (2012) and was featured in +81 Japan as one of Asia’s next generation of creatives. In 2014, Larry was conferred the prestigious President’s Design Award Singapore for Designer of the Year.

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CLIENT
Bynd Artisan Pte Ltd

DESIGNER
&Larry Pte Ltd
Tan Meilin Adora
Lee Weicong
Peh Chee Way Larry
Yeo Ziqian Randy

INTERIOR DESIGNER
LAANK Pte Ltd
Cherin Tan

PHOTOGRAPHER
Lavender Chang

‘‘… good design should ‘disappear’ and what stands out is simply the feeling of ‘the-wayit- should-be-ness’.’’

Insights from the Recipient

What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you about design or the business of design? And how have you used that advice in your work?

"To be a designer isn't very appealing now, is it? There are better businesses out there like the movie industry, robotics, and education, I think. So maybe that's why it is always hard for you to find talent." These words of wisdom came from my nine-year-old daughter at a casual chat over dinner. I've always taken her views seriously and this proves that the design business has a lot of catching up to do with other industries in the casual observer's eyes. Design always seems to take the secondary roles, for instance, after technology or innovation. But that's also the way it's destined to be. In my opinion, I am a firm believer that good design should 'disappear' and what stands out is simply the feeling of 'the-way-it-should-be-ness'.

Insights from the Recipient

What 'problem' does this design solve?

Peh Chee Way Larry: The brand strategy worked hand in hand with Bynd Artisan's business strategy. One major undertaking was the development of a sustainable business model, which was done by retraining older craftsmen to be client-facing. These craftsmen have a wealth of experience and are encouraged to share their experience with younger colleagues. Bynd Artisan also formed partnerships with people and companies that are able to identify with its brand values.

What challenges did you encounter during the design process? How did you resolve them?

Larry: It was important for the craftsmen, headed by Mr Chong Beng Cheng, to share their opinions, feelings and technical capabilities so that we could craft a better brand story. We looked through his old memorabilia, photographs, files and drawings for inspiration, drawing on those elements to inspire our design. Eventually, Bynd Artisan's brand essence became "Something's Worth Sharing" to encapsulate the brand.

The big shift was the mindset of the craftsmen. We wanted them to be the faces of the brand and we thought it was important that they are no longer hidden behind the scenes. It took some getting used to their roles being expanded as they were slowly exposed to the media and started interacting more with customers, and conducting workshops with participants from all walks of life.

Getting Mr Chong and the craftsmen to open up to us was the first step in gaining their trust, so we could reassure them that they and the brand were in safe hands.

How should design improve lives?

Larry: Design should build upon what is necessary with what we have (or will have), and what we need. It must also be sustainable (in terms of longevity of the idea and the product itself), possess the ability to easily evolve over time, and be built around our environment.

Design should help ease people's anxieties. It's important to ensure that the message remains clear and distinct regardless of the medium used. The message must remain, but the way in which the message is brought across would differ. New technologies, information and developments will all help to facilitate the transition from the past and present to the future, with minimal disruption.

What's the best piece of adivce anyone has ever given you about design or the business of design? And how have you used that advice in your work?

Larry: "To be a designer isn't very appealing now, is it? There are better businesses out there like the movie industry, robotics, and education, I think. So maybe that's why it is always hard for you to find talent."

These words of wisdom came from my nine-year-old daughter at a casual chat over dinner. I've always taken her views seriously and this proves that the design business has a lot of catching up todo with other industries in the casual observer's eyes. Design always seems to take the secondary role, for instance, after technology or innovation.

But that's also the way it's destined to be. In my opinion, I am a firm believer that good design should 'disappear' and what stands out is simple the feeling of 'the-way-it-should-be-ness'.

Which existing design do you think has a positive impact on society?

Larry: It's difficult to draw the line between technology-led design and the design-led technology. But either way, I think the great aesthetics of mobile phone design – on both the hardware and software fronts – elevates expectations of design and what is considered 'designed'. Design is also continuing to better lives. For example, things like Apple Pay and the ease of online booking.

I believe every positive design innovation will inevitably have a negative impact. Things like Virtual Reality headsets and driverless cars might be products with well-considered design, but will have both positive and negative impact. I believe the Space X programmes and NASA's Juno mission probe (including many others like Voyager 1 and 2) are constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be better engineered or designed. And at least they have paved the way for bigger, better and brighter possibilities. On a nostalgic note, I believe the older playgrounds in Singapore were designed pretty well, even if they weren't the safest with the use of sand.

Citation

Jury Citation

This is an exemplary story of how design empowers a brand, and how it can take a business to new heights.

Creative agency &Larry strategised the design blueprint for Bynd Artisan, which is inextricably tied to the lives of their master craftsmen and the legacy of the Goy Liang Book-Making Company founded in 1945. &Larry identified this at the outset, and put the artisans at the forefront of the brand story, presenting their craftsmanship to customers and the public.

“Something’s Worth Sharing” became the guiding ethos for Bynd Artisan. &Larry’s design and branding cascaded from that ethos. It is expressed in the touch-points for marketing collaterals, packaging, retail store design, and product development.

The new brand identity has given Bynd Artisan fresh energy and created opportunities for the company, greater than it had ever dared to imagine – specifically, the reskilling of elderly and loyal employees, enriched corporate social responsibility, and new business partnerships.

&Larry’s innovative design strategy has enriched Bynd Artisan’s brand values, charted a clear direction for growth and development, and established a new vision for the company. A consummate collaboration between a talented Singaporean design agency and enlightened, fully committed business owners, this initiative demonstrates that design can empower a brand.

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Nominator Citation

WINNE CHAN
CEO
BYND ARTISAN PTE LTD

I have been in the bookbinding and leather making industry for the past 21 years, and I have worked with many designers and visited many related international exhibitions. Bynd Artisan is a brand that is committed to tradition whilst finding relevance and acceptance in contemporary society. The retail ateliers are created to be experiential, so customers can touch and feel the products, work with experienced craftsmen to create bespoke items, or simply enjoy the space with a cup of coffee. The important message that the brand conveys is not just about selling products, but allowing the customer be part of the process – be it the making of notebooks, personalising a leather gift, or taking part in workshops.

This strategy was dreamed up by creative agency &Larry, whose idea was to inject a freshness to the brand by rooting it in its artisanal traditions. The brand subtly references its 71 years of history in bookbinding and leather processing through various visual communications. The poster boy is a master craftsman who has been with the company for over 40 years. The tactile feel of its brochures lets the customer reconnect with the analogue world. The design of the ateliers, with part of each store’s original old masonry purposely left intact, gives the brand a unique but raw feel that is symbolic of its decades-old heritage whilst keeping an eye on the future.

Bynd Artisan showcases designer capsule collections. It also collaborates with Singaporean artists and designers in various fields to reinvent the possibilities of leather and paper. This provides local artists with a platform to create something different by allowing them to turn their ideas into reality with the manufacturing expertise of the craftsmen.

In today’s challenging retail environment, Bynd Artisan has enabled locally designed, home-grown goods and aesthetics to manifest themselves successfully. The President’s Design Award will bring the company one step closer to becoming an iconic Singapore brand.

OTHER RECIPIENTS