Q&A with Georgina Foo & Genevieve Ang, Studio Gin&G: We have a deep interest in re-evaluating materials in our built environment

Q&A with Georgina Foo & Genevieve Ang, Studio Gin&G: We have a deep interest in re-evaluating materials in our built environment

Q&A with Georgina Foo & Genevieve Ang, Studio Gin&G: We have a deep interest in re-evaluating materials in our built environment

As a studio, you are advocates of “shared authorship”. Can you elaborate on what this means and why it is important to you? 

We believe that shared authorship provides us with a broader perspective and enables us to accommodate the needs and experiences of a diverse array of stakeholders. This concept is important to us because, through collaboration, we have learned and expanded our repertoire in approaching projects. This growth is evident in the variety of work that our firm can undertake.

You enjoy working with unconventional, recycled materials. Have you been able to convince homeowners to journey with you down this path? 

We are mindful of the materials we use and prioritise sustainable and alternative materials more in our commercial projects. Due to their experimental and temporary nature, the clients are more open to using such new materials. We hope that in time, these materials will prove themselves to be as durable and be accepted as a go-to option in residential projects as well.

Despite the odds, we are currently working on an exciting apartment, where materials made from discarded coconut husk, rice husk and eggshells take centre stage. The homeowners are progressive and willing to experiment with us. Chairs, tables, lamps and wall features are some examples of how we have used these materials (you can catch a glimpse of them at Emerge later this year).

It takes time and willingness to understand new ways of working whenever a new material is introduced, and we are best able to take on these projects due to our deep interest in re-evaluating materials in our built environment. We think it is important to surround ourselves with materials that are beneficial for the larger environment, knowing that as we create a small, comfortable environment, the larger environment is also being considered.

Recycled glass used in FURA by Studio Gin&G
This is recycled glass that we used in FURA, a plant-forward bar along Amoy Street. We had to work closely with the supplier on the finishing and application because this is the first large-scale counter made of glass in Singapore. 

How do you feel about being part of the DesignSingapore Council’s (Dsg) People of Design campaign? 

We are honoured to be part of Dsg’s People of Design campaign, which showcases the full spectrum and ecosystem of design in Singapore and highlights how everyone contributes to this robust scene. We are encouraged to be recognised as designers who push boundaries in the discipline of design, by experimenting with new ways to work with alternative materials, whenever possible.

Which three designers, from the past or present, do you most admire? Why?

Genevieve Ang: 

  1. Minnette De Silva was an internationally recognized female architect from Sri Lanka in the 1940s. I admire her tenacity in thriving despite the political and cultural setting of her times. Her approach to architecture, known as critical regionalism, where she champions ecological and participative design, is a reference I often find myself returning to.
  2. Go Hasegawa is another architect I deeply admire. His innovative ways of addressing a brief and considering the disparate interests of different stakeholders, offer insightful teachings on seeing challenges as design opportunities. The apartment in Okachimachi, located in Tokyo, is an example of how he manages to push creative boundaries through working with challenges.
  3. I admire the Khasi people of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau in India, where generations of “designers” were involved in creating a system of living root bridges. I admire the patience and relationship this group of people has with their surroundings. Growing up in a fast-paced urban environment, where buildings are constantly being refreshed, it is difficult to cultivate such a deep attachment as the Khasi people have with their living bridges.

Georgina Foo: 

  1. One of the formative influences who has strongly shaped the way I perceive and approach design is architect Gwen Tan, whom I apprenticed under during my time in Formwerkz Architects and Studio iF. Under her mentorship, I have gleaned that no detail is too small, and every design aspect of the project (regardless of how big or small) deserves the same precise scrutiny, such that nothing is left to chance — but, at the same time, we must embody a gentleness when it comes to mitigating the human aspects of the project, such as in the way we interact and understand the desires of the client, and collaborate with the builders and makers on the site. 
  2. I admire the works of designer Joyce Wang, whose visionary and cinematic spaces transport you to other worlds. Beyond the theatrical, there is a remarkable attention to detail, both in thought and execution. I admire that she designs almost every element, from the space itself, to the lighting fixtures, down to the furniture. I read an interview, where she shares that she believes that (interior) design should be a process that brings joy to everyone (beyond the client — the studio, contractors and fabricators) and that resonates with my personal belief that design is a collaboration and process of co-creation between the designer and clients, trade and craftsmen. 
  3. I often find inspiration in people and practices who devote a quiet and thoughtful rigour to their craft, across a wide range of disciplines. Architecture and interiors aside, I admired the work of Phoebe Philo, especially during the time when she was the creative director of French fashion label Celine. I felt that she really tuned into the energies of the epoch in her experimentation of the silhouettes and materiality, and her design pushed boundaries which empowered the contemporary female through fashion.  

What are your three favourite buildings in SE Asia?

Georgina Foo: The now-demolished Shaw Tower in Singapore, Geoffrey Bawa’s House No. 11 in Sri Lanka and Green School in Bali. 

Georgina Foo and Genevieve Ang are the Co-Founders of Studio Gin&G.