INTRODUCTION

Although there may be no one iconic pattern that best represents Singapore, there are many motifs we relate to. The one motif which I feel that most Singaporeans can definitely relate to is the peony flowers on the batik sarong on the Peranakan traditional costume. The batik sarong has a rich history and culture behind it.

Singapore, as a leading trade center for these Southeast Asian countries, offers a wide variety of batiks. The Babas and Nyonyas are a unique sociological and cultural phenomenon that occurred in an era of momentous transition. They have significantly enriched the Malaysian and Singaporean cultural heritage, cuisine, fashion and the arts.

Hence, I chose to package the beautiful Nyonya Batik Sarong, which could be a great gift from Singapore to be given to our overseas friends and share with them the rich culture and history behind these beautiful textiles.

THE HISTORY OF PERANAKAN 

The peranakan culture evolved in the fifteenth century when the Chinese arrived in Malacca and intermarriage with local women took place. These Chinese traders did not bring their womenfolk along, and many intermarried with local women. Peranakan culture is a “rare and beautiful blend” of two dominant cultures – Malay and Chinese – with some elements from Javanese, Batak, Siamese and European (specifically English) cultures.

Three terms are commonly used to describe this community: the Peranakan, the Straits Chinese, and the Babas and Nyonyas. The males are referred to as Babas and the females as Nyonyas. The origins of the word Peranakan actually come from the word anak or child. The word Peranakan therefore in its full meaning means to give birth to a child. This means that the children of such mixed intermarriages were called Peranakan meaning that they were born locally and were of mixed blood.

PERANAKAN IN SINGAPORE

Many Indonesian Peranakans intermarried with the Singapore, Malaccan and Penang Peranakans as well. Many families in Singapore therefore have Malaccan, Penang and Indonesian Peranakan ancestry. The first settlement of Chinese traders was in Malacca. With the advent of colonialism, Peranakans immigrated from this area to other areas such as Singapore, Penang, and other parts of Malaysia such as Kelantan and Kedah. Peranakan communities can still be found in these areas.

BATIK SARONG

Batik is a wax-resist fabric-dyeing technique. The word batik originates from the Javanese-Indonesia “amba” means draw, and “tik” and means to dot.

Batik Sarong refers to the bottom fabric with patterns created using the batik technique, which the Nyonyas wrap around their waist as a skirt. The traditional Nyonya costume was the Baju Panjang which can be traced to Javanese origins. It consisted of a long loose calf-length top with long sleeves worn over a batik sarong. The collar is Chinese and the dress is fastened by a set of kerosang (brooches). By the end of the 1920s, young Nyonyas abandoned the old-fashioned austere baju panjang for the more modern nyonya kebaya. The word kebaya is derived from the Portuguese word kobaya. The short kebaya was more flattering, as it was figure-hugging and shapely, with intricate embroidery at the neckline, sleeves and hem. The use of lace on kebayas may have been an influence from Portuguese and Dutch women who wore blouses with lace trimmings during colonial times. The kebaya is worn with a batik sarong. Nyonyas preferred Pekalungan batik from Java because of its vibrant combination of colours, and motifs of flowers, birds, insects, and other animals. Some of these batik sarongs can be really expensive and exquisite because they are hand made and hand drawn.

LOGO & NAME

 

 

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For the logo, I picked the peony flower as a motif to represent the peranakans. Peonies are common motifs on batik sarong worn by peranakans as well as the peranakan pottery. Esteemed as one of the most exquisite flowers, the peony is a symbol for nobility and value. The peony became popular in the imperial palaces during the Sui and Tang dynasties, and earned the title of the “king of flowers.” A symbol of spring, it is also used as a metaphor for female beauty and reproduction. Pictured in full bloom, the peony symbolises peace.

I took reference from the peony prints on the batik sarongs and simplified the flower into a more graphical form. I then added dots at certain areas of the petal to bring in the idea of Batik which originates from the Javanese-Indonesia “amba” means draw, and “tik” and means to dot.

The logo is a symbol of the peranakans as well as the batik used to decorate the batik sarong worn by the Nyonyas. The brand name is called NYONYA SINGAPURA, which highlights the culture of the peranakans in singapore. Singapura stands for Singapore in the Malay language.

PACKAGING

For the packaging, after much discussion with my professor, we decided to package the batik sarong such that it increases the value of the Batik sarong. I thought that hand made items will automatically increase the value in the product, so I created the box by hand myself, each piece of board was trimmed and cut to precision and placed together. I then used a black piece of textured paper to wrap the entire box. The box was made to have a tray-like design, so as to make it look like a stage to hold the Batik sarong. The first time i made a box, I took almost a day and I failed because the measurements and folding made the box really bulky. I then tried using individual pieces of boards to build my box for the second attempt. I kept it simple and neat. The whole box-making process took me 12 hours because I was really making sure that every measurement is precise and accurate. At last, it worked out!

The front of the box has a golden peony, which was also hand carved. What I did was that i carved the peony flower silhouette from the black paper, and placed a gold paper behind it and then use that to wrap the box.

I included a sleeve for the box on the outside, to show the brand. And inside as well, to wrap the Batik Sarong in place.

The packaging comes with a card which explains the value of this piece of Batik Sarong, and its story behind it. The history and information about the cloth also adds value to the product.

FINAL DELIVERABLES

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MAKANPURA- a conceptual and experimental packaging that focuses on the study of symbols to convey a sense of unity in Singapore through our diverse food cultures.

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Someone once said, “New york may be the city that never sleeps, but Singapore is the city that never stops eating.” Even though we are known for our racial diversity, the love for food is inherent for every Singaporean, regardless of our race and respective cultures. This project aims to show unity in diversity through the study of symbols, incorporating this concept not only in the design, but through to the packaging structure as well as the logo. Makanpura packaging combines 4 different sets of cutlery from Malay, Indian, Chinese and Caucasian food cultures to form one product that showcases all 4 cultures on one platform.

After removing the cutlery from the box, the capsule can be removed. At the bottom of the capsule, are information cards on the symbol of each respective capsule.

In every capsule, the packaging can be unfolded to reveal the interior of the box that consists of one set of cutlery, with a photograph of the cuisine’s particular dish and information on the particular culture.

Structure

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The structure of the packaging consists of 4 separate capsules that are hexagonal in shape. The research of the symbols continues here in the structure: the number 6 is a number of unity and equilibrium. The hexagonal shape is also found throughout nature: in honey combs, associated with bees and their co-operative nature as team players in the hive. Also, the hexagon is one of the dominant geometric configurations in human DNA. Therefore, the symbol of hexagon is employed in the structure to reemphasize the concept of unity in our diverse food cultures. As the capsules come together and is held together by a sleeve (shaped by 4 hexagons) that holds everything together, it is again symbolic of the coming together of all four races in harmony and unity.

Chinese: In Chinese food culture, it is common to see Chinese eating with chopsticks and a big, rounder and deeper porcelain spoon. This is because rice is a staple in Chinese food and is eaten usually out of small and deep rice bowls. Sometimes, spoons are omitted and chopsticks are used only. The bowl is brought forward to the mouth and the chopsticks are used to push the rice in. In almost every eating-place, Chinese food is available and loved by many Singaporeans. Famous foods known are dishes like Ba Chor mee (Minced Meat Noodles), Chicken Rice and Economical Rice.

Malay: Malay Food is one of Singaporeans’ favourite foods. From Nasi Goreng (fried rice) to Mee Rebus (Boiled Noodles in Sauce), it can be found in almost every hawker center and every food court. One interesting thing about Malay Food is that it is prepared in a Halal manner- this is because of certain Islamic Religious beliefs. At any eating-place, cutlery from any Malay Food Stall is green and cannot be mixed with food that is non-Halal. In homes however, Malay families usually eat with their hands. Only the right hand is used and only the fingers are used to scoop the ingredients and rice (this is only applicable for rice, not noodles). Before and after the food is consumed, a jug with a saucer will be provided for the washing of hands and a towel is used to dry them.

Indian: Many Singaporeans love Indian Food; amongst which, Curry and Prata are extremely popular. Like Malays, Indians eat with their hands. But instead of using only their fingers, Indians eat with their whole palm. Traditionally, Indian food is consumed off Banana leaves, without any use of cutleries. However, in modern times, it is more common to use a fork and a spoon while eating indian food. Males usually have a towel draped over their shoulders while eating, as it is convenient to clean their hands on the towel and they do not have to leave the table to wash their hands.

Caucasian: In Singapore, Western food is everywhere- restaurants and in food courts and even in hawker centres. From pizzas to pastas to steak houses, there is a wide variety of western food available to Singaporeans. One interesting thing about this western food culture is that we use spoons generally through every dish. Even for dishes like Chicken Chop and Fish and Chips, if a knife is unavailable, spoons are our best alternative.

Design

At a glance, each capsule has its own individual design- a pattern made up of symbols that are specific to each culture. Through an intensive research of the symbols and motifs in each individual culture, the symbol for unity is chosen to strengthen the concept of unity in diversity- so that the patterns and the designs on the box are not random symbols that the designer feels is the most representative of a particular culture, but it is a research-based finding of symbols that have been used globally to represent unity in a certain culture.

Chinese: In Chinese Culture, unity and harmony is usually represented by the imagery of the crab holding a stalk of rice (he xie). For this symbol, the Chinese character of the word (xie) is used in the cultural colour red.

Malay: In Malay and Islamic Culture, the cube represents the Holy Structure, the Kaaba. This pilgrimage symbolizes the unity when people come together regardless of nationality to worship together For this symbol, it is used with the cultural colour green

Indian: An octagonal Mandala represents harmony in human existence. For this symbol, it is used with the cultural colour yellow.

Caucasian: In Western Ideography, the vertical line represents oneness, completion, unity. For this symbol, it is used with the cultural colour blue

 

Logo

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Instead of researching on another set of symbols, the logo borrows the structure of the entire packaging and in turn emphasizes again the symbolism of the entire structure, of the honeycomb and the harmonious, cooperative nature of the bees.

Overall, this project has developed overtime to become an interesting and challenging way for me to discover the way in which I conduct research and I enjoyed especially reading several books to find specific information on these symbols.

Books referenced:

The Illustrated Sourcebook of Signs and Symbols by Mark O’Connell and Raje Airey

The Signs and Symbols Bible by Madonna Gauding

Chinese Art- a Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery by Paula Bjaaland Welch

Islamic Geometric Design by Eric Broug

Islamic Patterns: an Analytical and Cosmological Approach by Keith Critchlow

 

 

 

7Kopi Kaki 

[Ko-pee Kah-key]
noun.
Kopi is a Malay/Hokkien term for coffee. Kaki is a Hokkien term for buddy. When put together, it means coffee buddy.
i.e. “I’m going to grab a drink with my Kopi Kaki.”

The Idea
When friends visit from overseas, one of the first things I would do is to introduce them to the Kopitiam (Coffeeshops) in Singapore. It is a part of the Singapore culture that is not to be missed, and as a Singaporean myself, I am still very amused by how we order and customise our coffee and tea here (way before Starbucks)!
Coffee and Tea, also better known as Kopi and Teh, are staples in Singapore. It would have been a daunting experience ordering these drinks at our local coffeeshops for foreigners who don’t understand our lingo, therefore I decided to come up with a little guide to Singaporean coffee and tea.

The Logo

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For me, coffee is seen as a symbol of hospitality and a opportunity of creating conversations and gathering people together. Therefore, I hope to package the Singapore experience of Kopitiam for people to bring back to their country to share, and create a topic of conversation.
For the logo, I decided to go for to the most classic representation of a Kopitiam in Singapore, which is the old black and gold signboard that had its beauty in its simplicity.

The packaging

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For the box sleeve, the illustration reflects the common metal shelfs found in the Kopitiam where the cups/milk tin/etc can be found.

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In the package, the top layer consists of the ingredients needed to make a cup of coffee or tea; namely: Condensed milk, evaporated milk, grinded coffee beans and tea leaves. Beneath it, the instructions manual can be found, together with the teaspoon, tea leaves sieve and coffee sock.

Cardboard was chosen as the main material for the packaging to tie in with the “old school” nostalgic feeling that the Kopitiam gives. Also to note that plastic was avoided in the rest of the packaging, and the materials are all recyclable. The clean design was also intended to encourage users to reuse the containers.

Berbandung
[buhr-bahn-doong]
verb

In Malay language, the national language of Singapore, the term bandung means “pairs”. It can also refer to anything that is mixed. The term can be used to describe food with mixed ingredients, or used to describe semi-detached houses, as in the term rumah berbandung.

The verb is used as the brand name to reflect the mixed flavours of iconic Singaporean drinks and desserts and its harmonious blend of cultures. With Berbandung syrups, the taste of Singapore can be infused into both traditional and new combinations.

The product

For this project, I decided to package flavoured syrups. Singapore is undoubtedly known for its unique array of delicacies, and these delicacies contain ingredients that is difficult to get anywhere outside of the region. Unique drinks and desserts such as air bandung (rose milk), ondeh ondeh (glutinous pandan rice balls with palm sugar filling), kaya (coconut egg jam), ais kachang (shaved ice syrup dessert) are some of the food items that inspired me to package syrup. These foods are very traditional and nostalgic to Singaporean culture. With this in mind, I wanted to sort of package a little taste of Singapore so that foreigners can bring it home and add its taste to their own food, even if they are kilometres away. Considering it is difficult to travel with Singapore kuehs, what better way to bring back a taste of Singapore?

This packaging consist of three flavoured syrups: Rose syrup, Gula Melaka (palm sugar) syrup, and Pandan (screw pine) syrup. They are packed together to again, reflect the term berbandung and to encourage mixing of syrup flavours.

The aesthetic

I was inspired by the traditional rose syrup packaging made in Singapore that had a kitsch and vintage aesthetic and is reminiscent of olden days in Singapore where packaged goods, be it traditional toys or snacks, are packaged in boxes with bright colours, and brush or sans serif typefaces that usually are in the form of arches. I then treat the typeface in a similar, more modern way and overlay a photo I took at Tiong Bahru on the solid colours, to create a rusty, vintage look. The colours I chose for this product were derived from the individual colours of the syrups. I made the colours pop more and combine shades that fit the aesthetic, and to evoke the sweetness of the product and make it look more delectable overall.

The logo

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The logo is dominantly a rose, with the a pandan leaf and a palm tree leaf intertwined like petals as part of the rose. The logo displays the plant origins of the flavours and demonstrating the mix of flavours as well.

The packaging

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The bottles are boxed together with an outer sleeve. The inner box is sturdier and has inner compartments for extra protection and so that the glass bottles will not hit against each other. On the inside of the sleeve there is a detachable booklet of recipes. Each syrup flavour has two recipes you can make with that particular syrup and one extra recipe that has that flavour combined with one other flavour, to further emphasis on the concept of berbandung. The packaging is overall rather sustainable with only the use of paper and glass, with no unnecessary packaging.

INTRODUCTION
Red Dot Remedies (a play on Singapore’s nickname, “little red dot”) is an introductory kit to traditional remedies and herbal medications of Singapore. It can be used to tackle skin issues, respiratory issues and insect bites that may inflict first time visitors of Singapore who are not used to Singapore’s weather.

The kit also provides cures for common ailments such as colds and headaches. The best part is it offers this collection of 8 homemade local remedies READYMADE for your convenient usage. However, if you want to, the kit’s User Guide also gives you instructions how on to make some of these homemade remedies yourselves.

Also featured in this kit are the top herbal medicines of Singapore – Tiger balm and Axe Brand Oil. They have been household favourites in Singapore, and has been gaining recognition abroad as well.

PROCESS
I went through many changes in finalising my concept. I started off with wanting to do on tradition ointments of Singapore – Tiger Balm and Axe Brand oil, as they are very effective and common in Singapore households and are gaining recognition abroad as well. In the process it became making a survivor kit for Singapore’s weather, hence featuring things like umbrella, water bottle and N95 mask on top of the remedies. In the week before submission it was scrapped as many commented it was too complicated and I was back to square one, featuring only remedies and ointment.

LOGO & NAME

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The logo took the shape of a bandaid to suggest the brand’s ability to heal. The leaves were to suggest the herbal and natural elements of the kit. The “+” sign is to make the fact it is a healing/curing kit more prominent. The name “Red Dot Remedies” is a play on Singapore’s nickname, the “Little Red Dot”, because it is so small it is only a dot on the world map.

PACKAGING
My packaging went through a few changes as well.

Sustainability: I really wanted to create a packaging that is reusable after its products have been used so that it would be more sustainable. The reusable aspect was a driving force in all the designs of my box. Initially, I created 2 prototypes of a box that could open up to be reused as a hanging shelf. However in the end I scrapped that idea and went with a simple multifunctional box. It was inspired by an Apothecary Cabinet. One layer has different compartments and one does not so that it gives user more flexibility when they reuse the box for other purposes.

Product Expansion: There is also free space where the pamphlets are kept so that the user can purchase more remedies. Remedies can be stacked above the paper pamphlets. I imagine there will be more types of remedies available if this kit was a real selling product.

The lid is designed in a way (with an extra layer below) to hold the box in place when it is closed.

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FINAL DELIVERABLES
Multipurpose double layer box
User Guide Pamphlet: Product intro + Remedy Recipes + Directions to use remedies
User Chart: Summary of where remedies/medications can use used on body
8 Remedies: 2 types of herbal drink(3 packets per type) + 6 bottled remedies
2 Medications : Tiger Balm, Axe Brand Oil

All pamphlets and products are labelled with its name followed by what the product can treat. I stuck with a colour scheme of cream and red as I wanted it to be a reminiscent of the colours of Singapore as well as a first aid kit.

Following pictures shows products arranged for illustrative purposes:

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Kaya (Coconut Jam)

Apart from Traditional Nanyang Coffee, one of the food I missed the most when I was in Taiwan for exchange was actually having kaya toast, alongside some soft-boiled eggs drizzled with dark soy sauce and a pinch of white pepper. I remembered it was Christmas when I accidentally came across a Toast Box outlet in Banqiao,Taipei and it got me so excited! Although it cost me SGD$6 for just a cup of coffee and a slice of kaya toast, having my cravings satisfied made it so worthwhile.

KayaSerikaya is a popular food spread in Singapore and Malaysia made from a base of coconut milk, eggs which are flavoured by pandan leaf and sweetened with sugar. The word kaya means rich in Malay language and hence represents the creamy custard-like texture of this food spread.

Due to the mix ethnicity and its cultural diversity here in Singapore, there are two main types of kaya which can be found here – Hainanese kaya and Nyonya Kaya. The two types of kaya can be easily differentiated by its colour. Hainanese Kaya uses caramelised sugar thus producing a darker brown colour, whereas, Nyonya Kaya uses natural pandan extract by grinding the leaf hence giving the lighter green colour.

Peranakan Culture

Looking into Nyonya Kaya, we understand that the word Nyonya derived from the Peranakans and was a Malay honorific used to refer to a foreign married lady. Peranakans, also known as Straits-born Chinese are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago including British Malaya (now Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore) between the 15th and 17th centuries.

The Peranakans were well-known for their Malay influenced “Nyonya” cuisines and the wide range of traditional cakes (Kueh). Ingredients such as coconut shreds, coconut milk, pandan leaf and glutinous rice are frequently used to make these delicacies.

Peony, one of the recurring and widely used symbol in the Peranakan culture can be found included on most of its porcelain wares, batik, Kerbayas, and tiles.

To the Chinese, the peony flower symbolize wealth and honor because of the way in which the flower blooms and its colour red. The Chinese name, mutan, includes tan, the word meaning Cinnabar, the medicine of immortality.

Bunga kaya

Bunga kaya is a gift set of traditional homemade kaya specially to be given as a gift while visiting friends and families living abroad or as a sourvenior from Singapore for foreign tourists. It consist of two different flavours, Traditional Pandan and Gula Melaka, specially customized to provide a healthier option for customer who prefers rich and creamy kaya that is less sweetened.

The visual presentation of kaya itself might look plain and simple but the richness of it comes from its process. Having to prepare the fresh ingredients, balancing of flavours, trying out different receipes, non stop stirring and cooking of the mixture allows one to truly understand the spirit behind this traditional food spread.

I decided to name it Bunga Kaya because the process of making my own kaya felt like the awaiting of a rich blooming of the peony flower.  Further more, I was also inspired by the song and short film ‘Bunga Sayang’ by Roystan Tan which he did for SG50.

Bunga – Flower
Kaya – Rich

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The Logo

A modern representation of the bloom of a peony flower, the logo uses a thin line stroke to provide a touch of elegance and elevates the value of a simple kaya spread.

The Packaging

The idea of Bunga kaya’s packaging was to be mindful of its sustainability and has travel-friendly as the target audience are more likely to be tourists. Hence, traditional furoshiki wrapping was introduced not only to elevate the visual aesthetic and value of the product but also to provide easier handling and transporation while moving around.

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As we unwrap the fabric, the drawer box which contains the two bottles of kaya is revealed. The outer cover of the drawer box is kept plain and simple with minimal decorations of Peranakan tiles pattern at the sides so as to complement the flowery illustrations on the inner box. I wanted to provide the customers with a “blooming” experience as they draw out the box before reaching out for the kaya.

The paper box is 100% decomposable and is encouraged to reuse it for other purposes such as a accessories box. The furoshiki fabric and glass bottles are recyclable as well.
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Sense of place through food, symbol & vernacular packaging process

History — Spice Trading

Singapore was historically a spot where trader vessels docked and pirate ships lurked, awaiting plunder. Geographically, Singapore is part of Southeast Asia which it’s initial attraction was its position between two seasonal monsoons — one half of the year saw winds that carried sailing vessels from China, while the other half of the year favored ships coming from India and Arabia.

As a result of centuries of spice and cultural trade, Singapore combines exotic cooking traditions from the region. Spices are mostly grown in Southeast Asia, the home to key spices and the spice trade. With the lack of natural resources, Singapore constantly look to trade for survival; we depend largely on imports, exports and entrepôt trade.

Symbol and Logo

The octagon is a significant geometric shape and symbol throughout human history. The greek philosopher Pythagoras believed the “eightness” of the Octagon was the Embracer of Harmonies and linked it to safety, steadfastness and everything that was balanced in the universe. The wheel is the symbol ‘of movement and of liberation from conditions of place’

Using wheel and octagon as symbols of representing Singapore as a trading hub, it demonstrated Singapore’s take on promoting a free, open, and stable multilateral trading system. The wheel is also a symbol that branches out, and reconnects back in with, representing the exports and imports of our resources.

spicery

1. (cookery) spices collectively  /  2. (cookery) the piquant or fragrant quality associated with spices

3. (archaic) a place to store spices

The logo is a marriage of the symbol and the brand name, symbolising the place of Singapore as a trading hub in the southeast.

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Appreciation of the value of spices

SPICERY brings the familiar aromas and favours from the exchange of rich regional culinary culture that facilitates and connects communities in our trading hub, Singapore. The packaging design aims to share the story and history of Singapore and Southeast Asia through Southeast Asian spices & blends, providing a taste of those flavourful dishes to tourists as an gastronomical delight and experience.

It is a brand that sources for premium spices, and handcrafts all natural blend without the use of msg. In the souvenir set, the combination of spices are blended into powdered form, ready to be used in the cooking of delicious Singaporean dishes.

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Vernacular packaging Process translating to Packaging Structure

Drawing inspiration from the folding process in traditional spices and herbs wrapping, and deriving the shape from origami folding of an octagon, I derived the structure of the packaging. After many revisions of structure, shape and material explorations, the final design is a structural form that reminds us of a compass.

Graphics

Located at the crossroads of shipping routes, Singapore’s geographical location is tantamount to the success of as a trade hub and maps are a good visualisation resource. From that, graphics are inspired by old world maps to trace back the roots of early spice trading when Singapore was still called “Temasek” (‘sea town’ in old Javanese).

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Recipe cards are included in the souvenir spice set to allow easy reference when cooking. The back of the cards are printed with portions of map of southeast asia and can be placed together to form a larger map.

Sustainable packaging

Materials used in the packaging are environmentally friendly. Storage tin cans, made from stainless steel are long lasting, functional as spice storage and can be repurpose to store other items such as sewing supplies or screws. The strong magnetic base also allows the option of mounting the jars on a metal sheet or refrigerator to save space in the kitchen. The different openings on the lid give the option to either sprinkle, shake or pour by twisting it.

The lightweight and durable material makes it travel-friendly, and great as a gift.

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