Do Not Design is a creative agency with a focus on creating experiences and strategically-led content and campaigns with our expertise in design, research and curation to drive consumer engagement and awareness across the areas of print, online and spaces.
Set out to build a new way to connect, we help brands identify opportunities and build relationship with audiences. We redefine briefs to better campaign; design to surprise; to provoke interactions, and to engage interests and engagements across mediums, industries and generations.
The studio has been profiled top 8 in Singapore and #89 in Asia for Campaign Asia-Pacific ‘Agency of the Year 2016’ and has been featured in Quotation Magazine, Design 360, Asia Pacific Design, Asian Creatives ‘150 Emerging Asian Creatives to Watch,’ as well as received recognition in international design shows— British D&AD, New York Art Director’s Club Award (Silver), New York One Show Design, Tokyo Type Directors Club, Hong Kong Design Association Awards (Silver) and Creative Circle Awards (Silver).
Founded by Yanda in 2009 who started out as a blogger and editor-in-chief for theartistandhismodel.com —a carefully curated portal of all things creative initiated in 2005. In 2013, he was invited to serve on the executive committee of The Design Society, a non-profit organization that aims to promote visual culture in Singapore; he is also an editor of The Design Society Journal and Paper by The Design Society. In addition, he was commissioned to curate Temporium, a six month pop-up store/diner/ gallery at Dunlop Street; which brought in nearly 60 retailers, including Max Tan, Stolen, Argentum, By Invite Only, and Edypoi. In 2016, he was commissioned to curate items for Tiger Trading Co., a pop-up store in NYC for the launch of Tiger Beer, as well as a K+ Colorplan paper exhibition for RJ Paper involving six artists and 50 design studios.
Based in Singapore and with a variety of clients, local to overseas, ranging from museums and non-profit art spaces to publishers, universities and government organizations, public-listed companies, small-to-medium-sized enterprises, new startups and individual artists, that include Tiger Beer (US), Kingsland Global, Luxola, Crocodile, Fred Perry, harryhalim, John Clang, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, the National Arts Council, the National University of Singapore, DesignSingapore Council, Ministry of Education.
Why Do Not Design? We do not just design! Our interests in art, installation, performance, and fashion have helped define our unique approach toward experimenting, designing and marketing.
DESCRIBE YOUR PRACTICE IN THREE WORDS.
Don’t just design!
WHERE DO YOU GO OR WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET STUCK ON A PROJECT?
To be honest, we rarely get any! Our brainstorming sessions actually don’t generate ideas but questions. We spend a lot of time on research; which could be on a target audience or competitive analysis—which helps to challenge assumptions and provide insights into solutions. And for design crafting and experimentation, this should be a passive research that is done, or ought to be done, on a daily basis.
NAME A BOOK YOU THINK EVERY CREATIVE SHOULD READ.
I hardly am able to have time to read a book from start to finis, hence I actually prefer magazines instead. Sad to say, I really own a lot of books and most are unread. And if it’s a magazine, it has to be The Design Society Journal that I am currently in charge of. So far, the journal has interesting design topics that cover topics such as Zouk postcards over the years, selected motion title sequences on our national tv (Mediacorp) channel, political posters and many others.
WHAT DESIGN TOOL CAN YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
To date, we don’t think we have any as we always have the kind of mindset that the next one will be better. We started out in the design business without knowing how to design and we learned along the day—from designing and coding websites to editorial, publication, curation and publishing work, and now branding and installation.
But if I need to talk more about our projects, we have done memorable shows like I Have A Room With Everything – an exhibition design created in collaboration with AlsoDominie dedicated to the art of print by bringing an empty room to life with rare printed materials. It featured works from design studios from around the world—with the likes of Sagmeister & Walsh, Ki Gi, Aaron Nieh, Build, and Wang Zhi Hong among those included. It was, then, the first of such exhibition in Singapore and many designers and even non designer print lovers still remember it as they could browse and feel books/magazines/invitations or music albums that they may have seen online but not in the real.
We have also rebranded National University of Singapore Architecture. It’s the only full fledged architecture school in Singapore and to be able to design for them something like what Pentagram has done for Yale or Main Studios has done for IIIT for example, was an honor!
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE CREATIVITY?
One that either fulfills the business or marketing objectives of the client or elevates their status and brand perception from their general audience, if not, it has to make an impact either by social means or be innovative.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON CURRENTLY?
We are still on the look-out for interesting and fun projects! Though there are a few branding projects and we are also working on a travel book for a portraiture photographer, some card playing games for art students in territory schools, an art book for a photographer with an Italian publisher, design and collaterals for a charcoal artist and also graphical design for her solo documentary.
I am also on the journal team for The Design Society and we are working on the next issue of Paper by The Design Society which will be launched in March. It will be on the topic of business. For the previous issue we got in a master designer, Theseus Chan and we kind of forced him to dig out his 19 years worth of work for us to document.
IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY ARTIST/DESIGNER/CREATIVE OUT FOR COFFEE, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
I am very, very humbled and honored to have met plenty of creatives for studio visits whom has been inspiring. (Thank you!)
New York—Milton Glaser. Mucca. John Clang.
London—James Plumb. Studio Small. North. SEA. Studio Too Good.
Taipei—Aaron Neih. Wang Zhi Hong.
Singapore—WORK. John Clang. Kinetic. H55.
Would still love to meet Madethought, Design Studio, Natasha Jen, Snarkitecture, James Field Operations, Atlas, Bonsoir Paris, Studio Feixen, Wilfrid Wood, Thomas Petherick and Wolff Olins.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE CITY THAT YOU LIVE IN?
It’s a love and hate relationship with the city and country I am living in and grew up with. Love: It’s clean but and at least there isn’t a pee smell anywhere. Low crime rate. We really feel safe to go out at night. Surprisingly, the more helpful people can actually be the foreign workers. The air isn’t the best but it’s good enough. You also won’t see homeless people lying around just anywhere.
Hate. It’s summer 24/7 here and very humid. Books and papers can turn yellow and get spots more easily. The whole system and society is too conservative, safe, corrupted with pragmatic or success-driven mindsets but on other hand, flaws can also mean ideal and hope for heroes to make a change one day. Complacent mindset of Singaporeans. Many of us won’t know what to do when shit happens cause there aren’t any natural disasters here. We don’t really practice any drills either.