Designer Nathan Yong earned recognition as a trailblazer in the Singapore design scene when he founded design company/retail store Air Division in 1999 with three friends. Air Division was the first Singaporean company to sell its designs to high-end furniture retailers. However, Yong’s propensity for innovation began years before, in childhood. Growing up in a seaside wooden hut with limited materials at hand required Yong to invent his own toys using treasures he collected from the beach. He continues to utilize that same practice when designing furniture – creating with indigenous resources and relying on readily available materials, such as wood and steel. Yong has a degree in Industrial Design from Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore and graduated from the University of New South Wales in Australia with a master’s in Design. After serving as the creative director of Air Division from 1999–2009, he launched a consultancy called Nathan Yong Design, as well as Folks, a furniture label that honors Asian furniture craft. In terms of scale, Yong’s pieces are influenced by the congestion of city living, placing value on function and simplicity. “My work is a reflection of my yearning for nature in a concrete jungle like Singapore. Spaces are smaller and people are busier,” says Yong. Today, in addition to running his own furniture label and consultancy, Yong also serves as design director for Grafunkt, a Singapore-based company that focuses on Asian designers and products. He received the Red Dot Concept Design Award in both 2006 and 2007 and the Singapore President’s Design Award for Designer of the Year in 2008. Yong’s work has appeared in international design magazines including Abitare, Wallpaper*, Monocle and Dwell.
A good designer challenges the status quo and is always asking questions.
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