Profile: Kult 3d

This Singaporean design outfit has a great deal more than commercial work on the go, as Jo Kotas discovers – it also publishes a free visual arts magazine, runs workshops to nurture local talent and is involved in a showcasing initiative

Kult 3D is not only an unconventional consultancy, but also, as its name suggests, a movement. The group is helping to redefine how Singaporeans consider design at the same time as helping big brands to sell themselves. Set up in Singapore three years ago by Steve Lawler, Tanya Wilson and V Natarajan, Kult 3D’s office is located in the Old School, a former girls’ school turned creative enclave occupied by designers, photographers and stars of Singapore’s fashion scene. The Kult 3D team strives to have fun, which comes across in its work.

Kult Magazine is the group’s primary weapon in its creative quest. This free quarterly image-led magazine is distributed in cafés, shops, bars and clubs. The magazine invites local and international artists and designers to contribute, with a view to enticing the Singaporean public into the world of visual culture. The group has extended this reach with its Kult Artcade machine, custom-built to look like a vintage arcade machine, but containing a computer that shows digital editions of the magazine to be explored by visitors to whatever public space or event it is placed in.

The group’s other not-for-profit ventures extend to nurturing young Singaporean design talent. Events such as the Inspiration Sessions allow emerging talent to present work to industry leaders, garnering advice and contacts and also taking part in an informal pool of idea-sharing and creative exploration.

Besides nurturing Singaporean design talent, Kult 3D’s commercial work includes a project for Feiyue, a 1920s Chinese trainer brand that was recently relaunched by a French company. Feiyue invited Kult 3D to celebrate its launch in Asia by curating and taking part in an exhibition of the shoe’s reinvention. Seven Asian-based artists including Lawler, working together under the guise of Mojoko, created mobile art installations inspired by the shoes. Using the visual language of retro-style graphics and toys, Lawler remodelled Thunderbird jet fighters to create his vision of a Feiyue Thunderbird. Propelled by a hand-sling catapult, Lawler’s toy design includes detailed instructions on how to prepare your own Thunderbird with a Feiyue sticker kit, as well as instructions for flying.

A more lucrative, yet no less creative relationship is with Tiger Beer. Kult 3D has been working with the Asian beer brand for the past five years on Tiger Translate, a multidisciplinary international art and music showcasing initiative. As global curator and content creator, Kult 3D discovers emerging talent from across Asia and facilitates collaborations with established Western visionaries.

Despite working for several large multinational clients, Kult 3D strives to maintain its integrity. Lawler says, ’We’re very selective about who we work for. For us to take on a project we feel it must add value to a community of some sort.’

To strengthen this integrity, the group has resisted applying for readily available government funding to support its not-for-profit ventures. Instead, it has developed a range of merchandise including bags, posters, toys and vases, which it sells in limited editions to support its initiatives and also to raise the profile of local artists. It is this passion for emerging talent and Singaporean design that drives Kult 3D in its daily mission to create.

’There is a long history of craft from many cultures here, and also an increasing re-emergence of some forgotten printing and fabrication techniques being led by young designers and artists. This makes for some interesting juxtapositions between the various Singaporean cultures. From the old to the new, there is amazing typography, packaging and craftsmanship here,’ says Lawler.

With Singapore’s present drive to become more focused on arts and culture, this determined team of artists, designers and alternative thinkers is proving to be a key player in the national quest for creativity.

To read profiles of designers Sean Lam and Kelley Cheng, visit www.designweek.co.uk/features

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