Khairul Jaffar  |  Singapore
Published 2014-03-31 11:30:53

This past week saw the launch of the Singapore Design Week which brought the off-centre, less mainstream concept of design to the forefront of Singaporean minds.

For all the wonder and marvel of talented Singaporean designers, it has always felt as if design was a domain for creatives and other like-minded folk. The local public usually marvel at the end result but they miss out on the thought process. This is usually the most important aspect in the beauty of design, much more than mere aesthetics.

The Singapore Design Week is steered by the Design Singapore Council. One of its aims of this body is to make the world of design more approachable for the general public. Through various ways and means, it is hoped that more Singaporeans may embrace and celebrate local design.

One company looking to pique mass interest in design is Naiise. They intend to do so by appealing to Singaporeans’ instinct to shop. They offer interior decorations and personal fashion choices that subtly allow you let others know of your discerning  taste, without coming off as an in-your-face hipster. It’s perfect for people who want products that showcase their individuality.


But Naiise is more than your run-of-the-mill blogshop.

As you spend your time browsing through the selections, you will inadvertently be exposed to the works of local designers. Through your participation in Singapore’s national pastime of shopping, your knowledge of the local design scene will increase. In our books, that’s really a win-win. If you’re already looking to veer off the mainstream route, you’ll have the knowledge to back it up.

We spoke to the people at Naiise about their fighting the good fight for design and of course all the neat little things they sell.

What’s the inspiration behind Naiise?

Our founder, Dennis Tay, started Naiise as a response to what he felt was a misconception of design as being high-brow or ‘atas’ in Singapore. Through Naiise, he wanted to create a friendly and honest platform that would help make design accessible to more people, while educating people on why and how design can be valuable and relevant to our everyday lives. The name “Naiise” is actually a Singlish way to describe something really nice, and we chose it because that’s what we want to do – bring nice things to people, give them amazing experiences, and make them go “naiise!”

Naiise founder Dennis Tay. Leading the charge for Singaporean design
Naiise founder Dennis Tay. Leading the charge for Singaporean design

Many of the items for sale have a local slant to them, are Singaporeans your main target market?  

Being based in Singapore, and being Singaporeans ourselves, we do have a desire to support local design – be it products with a Singaporean slant, or bringing to market products from young local designers who otherwise would have no platform to gain exposure on. So yes, Singaporeans form a big chunk of our target market, but we do hope to be able to export Singaporean design to overseas customers as well.

To a certain extent, the strong local flavour of products on our platforms also shows how much Singapore design has taken off in the last few years. That said, Naiise is a platform for both local and overseas design products and we do bring in brands from around the world that Singaporeans may not have known about yet.

How do you think the advent of online shopping has shaped the shopping habits or taste of Singaporeans?

The online shopping phenomenon and its growth has certainly brought to customers greater choice, security and convenience. Singaporeans are quite happy browsing and buying things online for these reasons.

In addition, it has exposed consumers to to the wide variety of products around the world, and we think this helps people find more products that express who they are, their lifestyles and their preferences.

What are some of the things you consider when curating an item for the site?

We are very stringent on selecting our partners – the products have to be originally designed and made. We often speak to the designers or the design houses representing them to understand their brand philosophy before bringing them onboard.

How much of a part do social media/viral trends play in helping you decide the kind of items you sell?

As we are a marketplace with 100+ brands and almost 1.5K products, we have lots of products and content for social media posts daily. Our favourite social media platform is Instagram – it’s organic, it’s loyal it’s spontaneous, and it’s visual. Based on how much engagement and likes a product or design concept gets, we can make educated guesses on what makes our audiences tick, and how we should adapt our buying to cater to that demand.

What’s the vision for  the business?/ What do you hope to achieve?

Everyone in the Naiise team believes strongly in making design accessible and we hope to nurture a community of people that love and seek good design. We want Naiise to go regional, and be a bustling design marketplace with designers, partners and customers fully engaged.

Here’s just a taste of the wares they have:

Four Seasons Seasoning Shaker Set
Four Seasons Seasoning Shaker Set
Modern Gardens by Boskke
Modern Gardens by Boskke
Plumen light bulbs illuminate your space with a snazzy style
Plumen light bulbs illuminate your space with a snazzy style
A slice of Singapore life
A slice of Singapore life
It's not just the quirky stuff. Lazerwood's skins give your gadget a smooth and clean finish quite unlike any other
It’s not just the quirky stuff. Lazerwood’s skins give your gadget a smooth and clean finish

Given our island’s lack of space and resources, sustainable design pieces are an important consideration. So go ahead, check out the rest of their collection here. Exercise your good taste and do your part to spread the word about the awesome talent in the local design scene, you’ll feel good about it.

Plus, think all the praise your nifty purchase will get from your social media connections. Not that you’ll need it of course, you already have lovely stuff that you can really be proud of.

Also read: Singapore startup Haystakt lets you to set your own prices on the goods you love

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