Singapasar makes its sophomore outing with more locally designed collectibles such as heritage brand Hai Seng Porcelain (above). Photo: Singapasar

Singapasar 2016
National Design Centre, 111 Middle Road, Atrium & Gallery 1
Opening hours: July 29, 4pm to 9pm; July 30, 31, 11am to 8pm

Singapasar, the design-centric weekend pasar malam was created last year to celebrate Singapore's Golden Jubilee. But the response was so encouraging with some 6,000 people attending and better than expected sales figures, that it is making a comeback.

"We first created Singapasar when we noticed an increasing trend of designers and artists creating works that represent our local culture and identity," says Mabel Low, brand manager for The Farm Store, Singapasar's organiser. "Singapasar is where we celebrate the nation's birthday through a marketplace filled with locally designed products."

It wasn't just the public that loved the pasar malam. Vendors were encouraged by the response they received too. "Earlier this year, we started getting enquiries from last year's vendors to host Singapasar again," says Ms Low. "So out of overwhelming response and love, Singapasar 2016 is born."

This year's event promises to be bigger and better. There will be 35 product and food vendors, up from 22 last year, and it is now spread across a bigger space at the National Design Centre.

Ms Low says vendors at Singapasar are specially curated by the team at The Farm Store: "We only pick vendors who are Singaporean and their product or food item must be locally designed or made, telling stories of our Singaporean identity."

Entrepot Singapasar
Entrepot T-shirts featuring old Singapore

Some of the vendors include the Fingersmith Letterpress, a studio specialising in hand-lettered prints inspired by objects in Singapore; Entrepot, a design firm that produces T-shirts and bags with prints of old Singapore; Binary Style which produces scarves with Singapore-inspired prints; Kayamila, which makes a range of kaya such as calamansi citrus; and Demochoco, a small-batch chocolatier that will be creating specially flavoured chocolates such as masala chai and salted egg and cereal.

Demochoco (above), will feature its Salted Egg and Cereal among other chocolate delights. 

Other vendors will be debuting their new collections at Singapasar. One of them is Onlewo, a local design studio that creates bespoke ranges of wallpaper, upholstery fabric and homeware items. The designs are inspired by Asian roots with a focus on heritage, places and culture in Singapore.

Singapasar Onlewo
Onlewo's HDB prints

Onlewo will launch the "My Home" collection featuring four patterns titled Blk 1, Blk 2, Blk 3 and Blk 4; and the geometric patterns mirror the many faces of Singapore's HDB blocks.

Founder Mike Tay says the collection is inspired by fond childhood memories of huddling with his grandfather to watch the Chingay Parade from the corridor just outside their home. Besides cushion covers, upholstery fabric and wallpaper, these patterns will also be made into cement tiles.

"I wanted to launch this new collection at Singapasar to celebrate our country's birthday and the success of our public housing design and planning that contributed significantly towards our nation building," says Mr Tay.

Similarly, design collective Souvenirs from Singapore will be launching two new products at Singapasar. The first is the SS54, an ang ku kueh-shaped coaster that comes in an auspicious bright red shade; and the SS45.2, the Merlion Chouchou mini-keychain, so that anyone can bring the smiling Merlion with them.

Singapasar Ang Ku Kueh coaster

Singapasar Chou chou keychain
Souvenirs From Singapore's brand new Ang Ku Kueh coasters and Merlion Chouchou keychain

For some vendors, this will be their pop-up debut. One of them is Homebakee, a community of homebakers. Homebakee will be selling homemade treats such as cupcakes and macarons in kaya toast and Milo dinosaur flavours.

Home Bakee
For Homebakee (featuring its Kaya Toast Cupcake), this will be the vendor’s debut at a pop-up market. 

Another is heritage brand, Hai Seng Porcelain, which sells old-school enamelware. This year, instead of depending on walk-in customers at their store in Chinatown, they are buying into the pasar malam concept of Singapasar.

Perhaps, this could see them maintaining a presence in more pop-up events. "This could possibly be a turning point for an established but heritage brand like theirs to change their business model or client base. We are always on the lookout for brands like them," says Ms Low.

She believes that Singapasar is well-loved because "it provides a platform for all our experiences and stories to come together under one roof".

Ms Low adds: "These are things Singaporeans can relate to and have fond memories of. Through these objects, we might be able to view and understand ourselves better, consolidating our own identity as we celebrate the nation's 51st birthday."

Organiser The Farm Store foresees Singapasar to be an annual event, and may even extend it beyond just one weekend. "We want to make this something that everyone shouldn't miss to immerse in the Nation's celebration," says Ms Low.

Written by Tay Suan Chiang for The Business Times