Saturday, August 18, 2012

The innovative Great Singapore Souvenirs

The launch of the Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS).

Have you ever wish you could know where to get innovative and meaningful Singapore souvenirs for your friends who are residing overseas?

I did.

Many years ago, I had wished that Singapore souvenirs could be more innovative. I felt bored to end up buying Singapore souvenirs with the ubiquitous images of the Merlion, the orchid and the Changi Airport. I was very sure that there could be more meaningful and iconic souvenirs that could better reflect Singapore's heritage, culture and the Singapore identity.

It was dream come true when I chanced upon an exhibition entitled GSS. The Exhibition. when I was visiting the National Museum of Singapore on the late evening of 7 Aug 2012.

GSS. The Exhibition.
This photograph was taken on 16 Aug 2012.

It was the Bak Chang Five Stones that had captured my attention. These five stones resemble the looks of the traditional Chinese dumpling made from glutinous rice and wrapped in reed leaves.

Bak Chang Five Stones. S$12 per set.
Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS).

The Bak Chang Five Stones immediately reminded me of the days during when I was a Primary School student. During those years, one of the common activities to occupy our time after the school's examinations was to play the traditional local game called 'five stones'. I was told that the game 'five stones' was originally played with real stones or pebbles. Subsequently, I suppose people improvised the game so that instead of using stones, five small triangular cloth bags that were filled with rice, sand or saga seeds were used. I thought that it was very innovative that the five stones have been repackaged to look like the traditional Chines dumplings.

I became curious to know more about the GSS. The Exhibition. It turned out that GSS is the acronym for Great Singapore Souvenirs! I am sorry if you had thought that GSS is the acronym for the Great Singapore Sales, an annual shopping season in Singapore, that many of the locals are familiar with.

Great Singapore Souvenirs is a collection of merchandise that celebrates Singapore through the exploration of local quirks and habits. I sensed that the designers who have designed this collection have a good sense of humour. The collection re-interprets the Singapore's quirks and habits into meaningful and iconic souvenirs that everyone can shop for and have fun with.

Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS).

Here are some of the innovative souvenirs from the Great Singapore Souvenirs collection that I think may be tempting to buy as gifts:

Kan Cheong Spider Watch. S$36 each.
Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS).

The Kan Cheong Spider Watch appears to be one of the most popular souvenirs in the Great Singapore Souvenirs collection. Admittedly, I was straining my ears to listen out for what were the favourite souvenirs of the visitors. I could not appreciate it until I learnt that the colloquial term "kan cheong spider" is used in the local context to describe a person who is always anxious and constantly on their toes.

Please do not ask me why spiders are described to be "kan cheong" (anxious). Anyway, this watch can be a very apt gift for any friend or colleague who is literally chasing time and timelines. The recipient who receives the gift may feel very pleased that this fun timepiece will help ensure that he keeps up with the time and be reminded to be punctual for all the timelines!

Choy Charm.
Leather Key Strap at S$10 each.
Key Chain at S$10 each.
Necklace at S$12 each.
Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS).
Have you shouted "Touchwood" or "Choy" to ward off a negative consequence but wished you had access to a block of wood to dispel and neutralize the unlucky omens or evil consequences? Choy Charm provides the perfect solution. It is very aware that some Singaporeans would shout "Choy" and/or "Touchwood" as a superstitious action to ward off bad luck after some recent action they have taken.

The Choy Charm is cleverly made from solid wood to provide omnipresent access to a block of wood to dispel and neutralize unlucky omens at any time. This is a thoughtful gift to signify that good luck shall go with the recipient anytime, any day and anywhere.

National Day Tote Bag. S$23 each.
Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS)

August is the perfect time to launch the National Day Tote Bag. Did you observe that it is fairly common to see the people of Singapore carrying the official tote bags given out at National Day parades? The National Day Tote Bag pays tribute to this phenomenon by celebrating and reminding us the very day of Singapore's independence day on 9 Aug 1965. Did you know that 9 Aug 1965 fall on a Monday and was in the year of the Snake? I like the design which made reference to the iconic Chinese Almanac calendar.

Fish Bone Bowl Notepad.
A5 notepad at S$6 each.
A4 notepad at S$9 each.
Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS).

For the price-conscious and practical people, the Fish Bone Bowl Notepad may be a feasible gift to get for friends and loved ones. This souvenir reminded me of the common practice for locals to fold a piece of scrap paper into an origami 'bowl' for discarding bones and scraps of food during meals at home. This notepad can be used for taking down notes. In addition, it is incorporated with folding instructions which will guide the recipient to create his very own origami fish bone bowl.

Chope! Umbrella.

The Chope! Umbrella is designed to celebrate the ingenuity of the local phehonmenon of using umbrellas and tissue packets to reserve tables at crowded coffeeshops or hawker centres. At the moment, only exhibition prototypes of the umbrella is available for viewing. If there is enough requests received for this item, it may be produced for retail.

You can imagine a very delighted look on my face after I went through all the souvenirs on display at GSS. The Exhibition. Finally, I have found a place where I can get innovative and well-designed Singapore souvenirs to be given as gifts. 

Even if getting Singapore souvenirs is not your cup of tea, it can be an amusing and interesting experience visiting GSS. The Exhibition with your friends and family members as if you were going for an art exhibition. These innovative Great Singapore Souvenirs seem to have the power to engage its visitors and potential consumers to start interesting conversations related to the Singapore's culture and the Singaporean identity. If you do not believe me, please simply make your way to the exhibition with an open mind to put my observations to test.

GSS. The Exhibition.
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
8 Aug 2012 - 20 Aug 2012. At the Rotunda.
21 Aug 2012 - 9 Sep 2012. At the Gallery Theater Foyer. Basement.
Free admission.

The Great Singapore Souvenirs (GSS) is a collaboration between MUSEUM LABEL, SINGAPORE Souvenirs and FARMSTORE.


PC said...

The old folks were quite upset when we played five stones (the ones that contained rice grains). They believed that tossing up the "stones" was bad luck: it was symbolic of raising rice prices.

oceanskies79 said...

Oh, I didn't know about this taboo. Thanks for sharing PC.