Sometimes the most forward-thinking designs are those that use inspiration from our ancestors to influence the modern aesthetic. Pamela Ting and Jessica Wong of furniture and homeware brand Scene Shang marry the past and present in their designs, creating chic and functional pieces perfect for every home but unique enough to call your own.
The Singapore-based design duo is known for their customizable stacked drawers called the Shang System, visually inspired by the Ming Dynasty but crafted to allow modern flexibility. The pair have gained recognition for their innovative aesthetic, recently discussing their role as women in the design industry during an engaging What She Said panel discussion at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove. We caught up with Jessica and Pamela to learn a bit more about their cultural influences, unique design aesthetic, and how travel is the perfect inspiration for any era.
Your favorite city for seeing cool art and design?
Pamela: Milan – The Duomo and its gothic architecture is just breathtaking. Fashion and design is like a religion there.
Jessica: Barcelona. For Gaudi’s incredible works all over the city. Especially Casa Mila, where Gaudi’s attention to design and detail extended not only in the architectural form but right down to the door knobs. Every single element was designed in an organic manner, each element having the same cohesive, organic DNA.
What are Scene Shang’s three main inspirations?
J: Asian history and culture. Architecture and music.
What was the first piece of furniture you made?
J: I made a cardboard box house with windows, complete with a table, chair and a bed when I was around 6 years old.
What artist / designer are you currently obsessed with?
J: Photographer Daido Moriyama and his street photos of Tokyo’s underbelly. He photographs with simple point and shoot cameras in black and white, capturing images that are raw and feel real. The images are very evocative despite being grainy and at times out of focus. This is a respite from the overload of over polished and over styled images we see daily.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
P: New York- I guess because it’s been talked about as the art capital of the world, and also where anything is possible and you can be whomever you want, but I have not been there to witness and experience it for myself, hence the curiosity.
J: Also New York. I haven’t been there, but I want to visit the museums like the MoMA and I would like to go Art Deco architecture hunting as well – other than the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, I’ve heard there are other gems still standing today.
Who’s your style icon?
P: Olivia Wilde.
J: Maggie Cheung.
An insider tip on a cool artist or designer to check out?
J: Wendy Chua of forest & whale. The projects she works on are always so thoughtful, and there’s a deeply admirable sense that the projects are not about the designer’s ego but really about making life beautiful for everyone.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
P: By sheer force. You have to force yourself to cut away and compartmentalize. There is no other way.
What advice would you give to women who are looking to start their own business?
P: Make sure you have a solid support system. People who will be there to be honest with you when something doesn’t seem right and also generous with pats on your back when you’re doing well. If you don’t, build one.