Together, Darren and Shu, are the amazing force behind the Content, Communication and Branding Studio UNIFORM and Shentonista, a chronicles of the people, faces, and style in and about Shenton Way and other business districts in Singapore.
What is the most important value that the two of you share?
Filial piety. We’re both raised by, have been living — until Darren got married last year, and moved into a place of his own — with our grandmothers and we believe that they played a pivotal role in moulding our characters and helped us grow into the persons we are today. We might not have that many topics in common to talk about due to the generation gap but there’s still so much to learn from their experiences, and the way they carry themselves. They’re so selfless when it comes to caring for the family, and their generation probably because of all they’ve been through, is just so much more appreciative and humble than we are. It’s all about remembering your roots and where you come from.
If the world could only remember one thing about you what would it be?
There’s a quote by Napoleon Hill that I really like:
“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”
I don’t really need/want the world to remember me, I just want to be remembered by my friends, family as someone who genuinely cared; to be that someone who’ll be there to support them in whatever capacity that I can, whenever I can.
Darren: The guy who didn’t have much but he did have heart.
Most interesting interview series/post you’ve done and why?
Darren: The second Shentonista campaign we ran with We Need A Hero where we celebrated everyday heroes, like the cobbler, hawker, fruit seller, landscaper and pizza delivery guy. We wanted to challenge stereotypes and give these guys who make their living by making our lives better, their day in the sun. We first shot them at work then gave them a makeover and did a series of portraits with them. This was a campaign idea that had been on our minds for a long while and we’re glad it finally got to see the light of day.
Shu: For me, it would have to be Shentonista’s first pro-bono project in collaboration with Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) — Family Pawtraits. It’s a series of four interviews with dog owners and their pets, and it reveals more about the joys and challenges of welcoming a dog into their family. It was very interesting to see how the relationships between pet and human has evolved over time, how pets are now seen as important members of the family, and how people behave differently when they’re with their pets. For example, one family uses a baby monitor to watch their dog while at work, another lady who’s usually the alpha-female at work calls herself a “slave” to her dogs. Being a huge dog lover, and self-proclaimed BFF of Sophie (our office pet, Darren’s adorable corgi), we wanted to raise awareness about the plight of street dogs in Singapore and educate owners and potential owners about the responsibilities of owning a pet.
What’s your creative process when you approach a new collaboration?
We do so with empathy, and we always remember to be human. We enjoy drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, making interesting connections and putting it out there. Humility is something we hold close to heart. You should never think that you have the best idea or solution, you must also be brave enough to break from the usual “tried-and-tested” methods, because if you don’t, you can never better that. Also, stay hungry! The thirst for knowledge must be insatiable, only then can we improve.
What makes Singapore different from any other city in the world, and does Shentonista show that?
Singapore is truly a global city. Everyone is so widely travelled, if we take CBD to be a cross-section of the nation, you’ll see that everyone comes from everywhere. This to us is what defines being Singaporean.
What’s a typical day at work?
We come into work, drill our soldiers and whip them into shape. Just kidding. At UNIFORM, we hope to foster this spirit of camaraderie and build a family where we all work together, towards a common goal. We don’t want an environment where it feels like just work, we want an army that’s resilient, determined and ready to cover each others’ backs.
Describe your daily UNIFORM.
In terms of fashion, we’re both pretty inclined towards Japanese-aesthetics. Darren’s more Japanese mad-scientist ojiisan, especially with that head of curly locks while Shu’s more Japanese-eccentric-schoolgirl, given her tiny stature and insatiable enthusiasm.
We are inspired by Darren and Shu’s passion for creating and collaborating, and are proud to have them as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring friends that regularly test MATTER products in their workplace and trails to help us improve durability and design. Darren is wearing The Bermuda + Raka Raven, Size 1, Shu is wearing The Boxy Crop + Raka Raven, Size 1 and Leslie (featured in the second picture) is wearing The Lounge Lunghi + Raka Raven, Size 1.