Sneak peek!

In collaboration with the amazing multi-talented duo, Jonathan and Hong Guan, we're working on something really exciting. Jon is a freelance illustrator and designer, while Hong Guan runs a multidisciplinary creative agency, PRODDDesign. Without either of them this wouldn't be happening, so we really want to give a shout-out to both of them for all the great work they have been doing for The Upcycle Project.

We'll keep you posted, but here's a little something to whet your appetite ; )

Saturday Sessions #2

This week we continue with our Saturday Sessions. Amongst our participants for this second installment were architects and students, landscape architects, environmental researchers and youths from within MacPherson. As with our previous session, the stories that they told about the objects collected never failed to surprise, regale, intrigue or move us. 

Through these Saturday Sessions we have collectively developed a wide range of initial ideas and creative possibilities for the objects, from a dim sum trolley to a multi-purpose waiting bench, from lecterns to adaptable furniture. We're itching to start making things already, although we do have to hold ourselves back for now. From listening to the stories that people have told and how much scratches and stains can say about the objects' pasts, we feel that it is important to showcase these objects as they are during The UpcycleArt Village (with the exception of reversible additions such as upholstery and minor repairs). Where their previous owners saw the objects as waste, there are others who see meaning and purpose in them, and this is something we would like the community to think about as well.

On the whole, we are deeply encouraged by the positive responses we have been receiving on The Upcycle Project so far! Thank you : ) We hope to make the Saturday Sessions a regular fixture, so once again, do drop us a note and say hullo. We welcome everyone and anyone, whether you are in the design industry or not. As proponents of participatory design, we believe everyone has the personal capacity to imagine, create and contribute.

Saturday Sessions #1

Group Shot:  Image taken by  Ziqq Says Hello.     

Group Shot: Image taken by Ziqq Says Hello. 

A big part of The Upcycle Project is about engaging various stakeholders within and beyond MacPherson in the process. By 'stakeholders,' we refer not only to the local residents but also creative professionals, including designers, architects, engineers, artists and many others. Recently we held the first of what we call Saturday Sessions, where we bring our creatives together to help us brainstorm ideas for the design output of the items we have collected so far. The ideas collected during these sessions will serve as catalysts for more ideas, stories and participation from the wider community.

To all those who took time off their precious Saturday morning to join us in this effort, braving the warm weather and sitting cross-legged on the floor, kampung style - here at P!D, we're truly grateful for your help, support and participation in The Upcycle Project. We're also very inspired by the stories and ideas that came out of Saturday Sessions, which will be documented at The UpcycleArt Village on 27 Apr 2013. More on that to come.

We are holding another of our Saturday Sessions - #2 - this Sat, 16 March at 1 -3 pm. We will be located at the backyard of MacPherson CC, now temporarily residing at T-Net Club. Do drop us an email at if you are interested to be a part of it!


The Story that Sparked It


Remember these?

These were our yellow stands from last year's community art project, Retellings. In a way they were the catalyst for The Upcycle Project, so we thought we'd share this anecdote to help explain our motivations behind this new initiative.

Shortly after we launched the community art exhibition, we were informed that one of the installations was dismantled and the display stands sold to a neighbourhood rag‐and‐bone man. In a fortuitous series of events these stands eventually found their way back to us; what we learnt was that it was done by a resident who was facing financial difficulties at the time. While we managed to resolve this incident peacefully, it started us thinking more deeply about how we could make our participatory processes and outcomes more relevant and meaningful for individuals such as this resident we encountered.

Our experiences in Retellings taught us that stories were a powerful catalyst for community participation, and that design was an appropriate medium for conveying these stories into tangible forms that can touch people in bigger, deeper ways. At the same time it left us with more food for thought:

  • How might we design a more robust process that involves individuals that might have been left out previously, or who are usually left out of community engagement efforts due to bread-and-butter issues and other pressing concerns?
  • How might we ensure that the outputs of our creative processes can have greater social impact and smaller ecological footprints, by utilizing existing resources within the community?
  • What happens if we recognize individuals (like the resident in our story) for their strengths and skills, and create opportunities for them to tap on these assets for the greater good? 

Hence The Upcycle Project, which we hope could help to address some - if not all - of these questions. By creating and facilitating a system of exchange between various stakeholders within and beyond the MacPherson community - bringing together designers, local businesses and residents - we hope to demonstrate and celebrate the capacity of everyday people to contribute positively to their neighbourhood with what they have.