If you can’t travel the world, the Design Union will bring the world to you.
Its exhibition, Collecteral, now on in Kuala Lumpur until Oct 30, showcases over 1,000 pamphlets and posters from all corners of the world.
Collected by 11 Malaysian designers and collectives over many years, this impressive showcase offers a glimpse into design sensibilities from many different countries in the hopes of nurturing a better understanding and appreciation of design in Malaysia.
“Design, as we see it, implies beautiful solutions. We believe design is a conversation; a constant, progressive conversation to make, to learn and to improve,” says Chai Suek Mei, cofounder of risograph print studio A Good Reason. (Driv Loo is the other half of A Good Reason.)
“Only with conversation will we be able to deepen the appreciation of creating good designs together. This appreciation will not just translate into job opportunities and healthy work relationships, but will also make an impactful imprint on our cultural mapping,” she adds.
The Design Union collective was initiated by A Good Reason and contemporary letterpress stationer The Alphabet Press led by Cliff Leong, Zeejay Wong and Fidella Ch’ng. Collecteral is its first curated event.
Apart from the exhibition of pamphlets, Collecteral also offers a notebook-making workshop and a movie screening.
With its name derived from a combination of “collect” and “collateral”, Collecteral is exactly what it looks like: a collection of collaterals, presented in different ways.
For instance, the pamphlets presented in the exhibition are arranged in rows and “waves”, collectively forming a sea of print items, or collaterals. The “Post No Bills” campaign is also part of this exhibition, and transfers illegally-posted adverts (think loan sharks, lori sewa, volcano massage and so on) from the streets to this exhibition space. Alongside these actual adverts that pop up everywhere and are very much a part of daily life in urban Malaysia are about 15 redesigned versions done by local designers.
“With this campaign, we want to showcase how powerful art direction can be and how it can be used as a tool to influence the city for the better, in terms of aesthetics and communication. There is a different approach to design when you know it is something that will be taken down by the authorities by the next day. But even with something so short-term, the designs are distinctive and instantly recognisable,” Chai observes.
She points out that a misconception many people have is that it is easy to come up with something fresh and new, or that being a designer is a “cool and carefree” undertaking.
None of that is true, she stresses. There’s much more than meets the eye in being a designer – for instance, diversity is the order of the day.
“We need to learn about everything from the economy, current affairs, trends, sciences ... because all this will help us improve everyday life with good design,” she says.
Reflecting this philosophy, Collecteral, which is an initiative two months in the making, brings together designers, artisans and makers in a multi-disciplinary approach to showcasing design and its purpose and impact.
The people behind Design Union hope that this ambitious project will not just encourage conversation but also bring the like-minded together and push creative boundaries.
“We hope to strengthen the creative community by bringing everyone together and finding solutions to the challenges we face in the local creative scene,” says Chai.
The motivation behind this exhibition is simple.
“In showcasing some of the very good works collected, we hope to inspire people and open their eyes to the possibilities of print collaterals as a communication vehicle,” she explains.
The public can catch the exhibition at No. 2, Jalan Hang Kasturi, KL, every day till Oct 30 (10am-8pm daily; there is a RM10 entry fee).
Collecteral’s notebook-making workshop, which is held on weekends only, will take you through the different stages of making a notebook, including binding, folding, making end papers, and customising the cover and a note card using the traditional technique of letterpress and risograph printing. Sessions (at 10am or 3pm) are three hours long, and the fee is RM150.
The Happy Film, a feature-length documentary by Austrian graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, is about how he undergoes a series of psychological experiments to test if it is possible for a person to have a meaningful impact on his or her own happiness. Showing on Oct 26 and 27, the RM40 fee is inclusive of a RM15 food voucher.
Admission tickets are available at the venue on event days. For more information, go to designunion.my.