Tan Wei Xiang

Singapore | Woods: soft maple, hard maple and red oak

Wei Xiang graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts, Spatial and Product Design BA(hons) with First class honours in September, 2017. Upon graduation, Wei Xiang worked as a carpenter, making furniture from trees grown specifically in Singapore. He worked with various species such as African mahogany, rain tree and tembusu tree, which were given a second life amidst Singapore’s rapid land development. He is currently working as a Technical Executive at Temasek Polytechnic, School of Design. One of his recent works was a self-initiated collaborative project on Ceramic tableware, where he explored different slip-casting techniques. His work is inspired by everyday observations, conversations and different thought processes.

‘It was kind of a coping mechanism to run through all your keepsakes during the pandemic. Video calls didn’t really provide the tangible connection many people were after. This way you had something to hold, feel and touch in relation to missing loved ones.’
  • The design process

    ‘My piece is about the ever-changing landscape of Singapore’s environment. We are such a small country and yet we are rapidly developing our land. It looks totally different than it did five years ago.’ Wei Xiang describes the sites as Singapore’s new vernacular. The pandemic meant that he also had plenty of time in his room and he used the opportunity to clean up, in the process finding a variety of souvenirs. ‘I thought why not have a keepsake cabinet to officially store them in,’ he says.

  • The making of the final piece

    Wei Xiang elected to use a combination of hard maple of different thicknesses for the shell to achieve the ‘crinkled’ effect, and red oak for the curved shelves inside. For the craftsmen at Fowseng, the primary concern was whether the structure would be strong enough. ‘The only way to prevent any distortion was, to seal the pieces to prevent moisture getting in and the wood moving after the shaping was done by the CNC machine. Then it went straight into assembly. Once the pieces are bound together like a box, stability is achieved,’ explains the technical manager.

  • The end result

    Wei Xiang describes his piece, Recollect. ‘It’s about the cabinet indulging in a form of nostalgia,’ he explains. ‘I like the idea of being able to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and look through all my keepsake items.’ The piece is stained green on the outside but the interior has a natural finish. The gap at the bottom, between the door and the floor, is a reference to the fact that the construction site’s fences rarely meet the ground. A mirrored, polished brass circle, mimicking the sun setting on the horizon, is the final touch.