Search for the New Singapore Icon by Democratic Society

Here’s a home grown project that I seriously adore – Democratic Society is a Singaporean outfit that collaborates with various local and Asian designers to produce thoughtful and seriously beautiful souvenirs that you’ll be more than happy to bring home with you. These aren’t the “dime a dozen” sort you get for cheap at the mass-souvenir stands!

Their very first project was to try and identify what the new Singapore Icon is (other than our kitschy Merlion). They collaborated with five local artists to see what they could come up with. The pieces were then produced as ceramic tableware by Japanese company Kihara.


Tembusu by Desinere

Tembusu is based on the large shady Tembusu tree in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, designated a heritage tree for its long history in Singapore. This tree is so important that it’s featured on the back of our current $5 note! I love the modern graphic nature of this design, very Japanesey with the concentric circles.

Pic from AGC Singapore



Days of Lightning by Ampulets

This series Days of Lightning is supposed to reflect the lightning fast pace of change that Singapore’s society has gone through in the past few decades, but the lightning bolt symbol also belongs to Singapore’s current ruling political party who has been in charge of the country since its independence…



The Dancing Joaquim by Quiet Studio

The Dancing Joaquim series is named for the Vanda Miss Joaquim is our national flower (it’s an orchid breed) and has purple petals that flutter like the skirt of a dress.  Here’s a picture I took of another orchid species which really looks like a bunch of dancing girls.

See the dancing girls? I took this at Gardens by the Bay recently, and after my mum pointed it out to be, I can’t unsee the dancing girls anymore



HDB series by Chang Shian Wei

HDB, or Housing Development Board flats are where over 80% of Singapore’s population reside in land-scarce Singapore. This series showcases these iconic corridors and windows of these large blocks of flats. This is my personal favourite of the entire series because the photos have been treated so you might mistake it for a very modern graphic pattern instead.

HDB flats in the evening – Photo by TZA via Flickr




National Bird of Singapore by Relay Room

Before the National Bird of Singapore series, I never knew Singapore had one, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it really was the common shipyard crane. (The internet says it’s the Crimson Sunbird!). One might also posit that mynahs or crows are the most common. The crane is a fitting choice though, having also made it to the back of the new series 50 cent coin.


Cranes in our harbour – Photo by Bernard Oh via Flickr


Singaporeans and visitors alike, what do you think is our real Singaporean symbol?

The cool part is that you have the chance to suggest what you think would be the best new Singapore Icon and submit your design by 31 March! See more details here.

Also, you can own these pieces for yourself – get them from the Supermama online shop or the physical shops (check their website for locations), They’re not that expensive as individual pieces, though collecting full sets might be a little pricey (big plate at $20, small plate at $10, chopstick holder at $5), if I had a house, I’d love to own one of each set and lay them out together at a dinner party…


Singapore Icon product shots used with permission from Democratic Society, Photo Credits: Meng Kwang

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