Desinere is a design label specializing in bespoke objects. Founded by Melvin Ong in 2012, the customized products cater to a range of furniture, accessories, and lighting needs. The Singapore-based consultancy aims to reflect on the dialogue between people and their experience through design. The name of the studio itself comes from the Latin root of silent, which means stop. It creates an impression of a pause that enables the users to gather their sensory response to the environment. 

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Melvin Ong, Founder of Desinere_© www.slow-words.com/melvin-designer/

The Desinere team believes that design is a holistic entity. It includes a journey of experimentation along with discovery. With this approach, they strive to create authentic products that are refreshing yet unforeseen. The label demonstrates sophisticated designs inspired by pleating and sharp lines. With this in mind, they offer creative direction, furniture design, workshops, and spatial planning. The design expression rendered the founder Melvin Ong to be known as a rising Asian talent and “a designer with an X factor”. 

Some iconic and diverse products by the Desinere studio are as follows:

1. Bespoke Monolith – Lounge Side Table

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Bespoke Monolith _ © Desinere

The Monolith is one of the earlier works by Melvin Ong. The inspiration for the form comes from geometric shapes. Its genesis commenced with a square that underwent a series of subdivisions and folding. The origami process allowed it to reach “a moment of serendipity” as the form got fashioned followed by function. The continuous folded plate structure, made in brushed or powder-coated steel, stays in perfect balance and is rigid. 

The variations are available in different colors of matte white, black, and blue. Moreover, the modification of heights also increases the Monolith’s range to high and low coffee tables or side tables.

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The Genesis of Monolith _ © Desinere
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Range of the side table _ © Desinere

2. Familiar Strangers – Public Benches

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Familiar Strangers _ © Desinere

The design of Familiar Strangers expresses a sense of familiarity in a public realm. It got selected as one of the six benches in the “Our Favourite Place” program launched by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Singapore. The bench by Desinere answers its brief perfectly to enliven public spaces across the country. The masterpiece mirrors the gesture of strangers converging at a communal space. Individual benches have varying heights to cater to different ergonomics for seating. 

However, each component does not function in isolation. A series of these anthropomorphic benches gather as a single entity forming an associational value. Interesting patterns create refuge while generating opportunities for a shared experience and interaction between friends and strangers.

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Bench for various ergonomics of seating _ © Desinere

3. Rok – Concrete Paperweight

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Rok – concrete paperweight _ © Desinere

Rok is an ornamental paperweight cast in concrete. Desinere combines the connotations of a paperweight with the nature of raw concrete to fabricate the product. The heavy and dull industrial material contrasts with an intricate and decorative form. It captures the essence of a rock-like weight while beautifying the unsung material. The origami-style Rok can be employed as a paperweight as well as a sculpture or home accessory. 

Likewise, the product comes in two sizes. It was selected as one of the standing-out products at London Design Week, 2014.

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Rok – different sizes _ © Desinere

4. Lueur – Series of Lamps

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Lueur _ © Desinere

Lueur is a series of lamps designed as a collaboration between Desinere and Tinge. The team developed an ambition through the design as it influenced the way one looks at lighting. The alliance resulted in combining the design sensibilities of the respective studios. Lueur comes across as a contemporary lighting line produced by traditional handicrafts. Maple wood and premium paper are used to craft the lamp. The combination of minimalism and playfulness into design forms a unique product. It complements the surrounding environment through a balance that quietly draws in the users. 

The lamps are available in a wide range of hues tailored for different moods, creating quirky environments. Moreover, muted pastels and neon sheathing impart a modern appeal. The subtle design reveals the use of incoherent materials, a warm glow, and compelling anatomy. 

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Lueur _ © Desinere
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Lueur _ © Desinere

5. Ruchette – Ambient Lamp

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Ruchette _ © Desinere

Desinere envisioned Ruchette as a symbol of luxury. The lamp so echoes the richness of a lion’s mane or a peacock’s tail feathers. Adorning ruffs from the collars of couture dresses from the Victorian era inspire the design. 

The pleated lampshade mimics a similar erect posture. Moreover, the tessellations of pleating accentuate the lighting. The variation of angles forms intricate patterns. They are responsible for creating a compelling contrast between the shade and the light that falls on it. Hence, the lamp presents itself in a flamboyant manner. Yet, the concave nature seems welcoming, creating a notion of warmth.

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Ruchette _ © Desinere

6. Mappa – Pleated Tableware

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Mappa – pleated tableware _ © Desinere

Mappa materializes as a contemporary counterpart to traditional Asian tableware. The concept takes inspiration from turning hand-folded leaves into serving plates and bowls. The design achieves the gesture through the means of origami. Through Mappa, Desinere introduces a fresh approach to paper tableware. Each bowl is skillfully pleated to hold several items and treats for serving. 

The trays are available in steel and ceramics. Most importantly, this was the particular product that set the label onto a path of pleating and paper-folding.

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Mappa – pleating _ © Desinere

7. Itty Bitty – Rocking Chair

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Itty Bitty – rocking chair _ © Desinere

The Itty Bitty draws its inspiration from a user’s itch to fidget. Desinere crafted a compact and ergonomic seat to cater to the subconscious desire. Made in wood, the small rocking stool associates itself with a stylized spider. The eight feet compose an arc that bestows a soft rocking motion. In addition, the gentle motion triggers a sense of playfulness, appending an element of curiosity to the product.

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Stylized spider resemblance _ © Desinere

8. Fouette – Paperweight Spin-top

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Fouette _ © Desinere

As the name suggests, Fouetté draws inspiration from a graceful ballerina performing a fouetté. Essentially, the product is paperweight. However, its appearance resembles a faceted spin top. The elegance of a ballerina’s movement is crafted into the product as it twirls. The laudable Japanese metal casting craftsmen of Nousaka handcrafted the paperweight. 

Since it is cast in bronze and brass, the color varies over time. On top of that, handcrafting of individual pieces gives a distinct look and character to each of them.

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Unique character of each handcrafted unit _ © Desinere

9. Canopée des Arbres – Accessory Trays

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Canopee des Arbres _ © Desinere

Canopée des Arbres is a series of table accessories. Desinere intended to conjure it as a reference to the peaceful grandeur of rain trees. The majestic trees exhibit a balance of fluidity and rigidity, which became a guiding factor for the design of the product. The asymmetry of a tree directs the eclectic nature of the trays. Additionally, different Canopée trays accent a unique contrast of soft curves and sharp lines. It keeps intact the charm of natural elements that symbolize the strength and structure they provide to their ecosystem. 

The trays are cast in white cement using eccentric yet precisely handcrafted molds. Hence, the softness of the product also juxtaposes with its bone-like quality.

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Accessory trays _ © Desinere
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Accessory trays _ © Desinere

10. Stripped Flowers – Installation 

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Stripped Flowers – Installation _ © Desinere

Browhaus, a grooming chain in Singapore, gave Desinere a task to vitalize their treatment room doors. The design studio had the opportunity to illustrate a one-of-a-kind installation with pop-up flowers. They drew inspiration for the same from a blend of Cubism and Georgia O’Keeffe’s portrayal of women’s sexuality in her works. 

Therefore, a series of vibrant tongue-in-cheek flowers brought the element of wonder and playfulness to the doors. The entry and exit of the treatment room ran in coordination with the folding and unfolding of the installation.

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Pop-up installation on treatment room doors at Browhaus _ © Desinere

References

  1. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.desinere.com.sg/> [Accessed 19 June 2021].
  2. Slow-words.com. 2021. Melvin, designer | Slow Words. [online] Available at: <https://www.slow-words.com/melvin-designer/> [Accessed 19 June 2021].
Author

An architecture student who finds architecture to be a continuous process of pushing boundaries, to make the world grow around and about it. She strives to read and understand the dialogue that occurs between architecture and the lives of people connected to it.

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