Sate your appetite for the applied arts at A Design Film Festival
  • By Zaki Jufri
  • | Jan 22, 2010

For a small country like Singapore, we sure like our art and design events, judging from the slew of exhibitions, conferences and festivals that have happened here in the past few months. Hot off the heels of the recent Singapore Design Festival, where the world’s design elite descended on our little island to schmooze and show off their stuff, another design event (a film festival no less), rises up in its wake. A Design Film Festival, on at Sinema Old School, is the first film festival of its kind solely devoted to design.

Organized by design think-tank Anonymous which is headed by art director Felix Ng, you can expect an eclectic selection of films dedicated to architecture, graphic design, art, motion graphics, photography and alternative culture from design-centric cities such as New York, Japan, London, Berlin and Bangkok among others. Ng has curated and organized a number of design/art-related exhibitions like Art With Sound and Dual City Sessions, both of which have been shown in Tokyo, Berlin, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

The film festival is also the perfect accompaniment to The Design Society Conference 2010 happening at the National Library Building from Jan 23.

While the very name of the film festival implies that it’s targeted at designers, Ng and his team have carefully selected films that will also appeal to the masses. “The films were selected to include as many disciplines that design and art are rooted in, but we didn’t want to put together films that just spoke to designers or artists,” says Ng.

“We wanted films that celebrate the design process and at the same time, reach out to non-designers as well. Hopefully, this helps non-designers have a better idea of what goes into designing their apartment, a car, a logo, poster, etc,” he adds.

But still, there are (many) scenes of designers waxing lyrical about how design plays a part in everyone’s lives, and how they come up with a winning piece (it IS a design film festival after all).

Other than the five headline films, A Design Film Festival will also present a special showcase of motion art films as part of the onedotzero global tour, as well as “bonus content” consisting of short films from international contributors.

So what’s one film you definitely shouldn’t miss?

For Ng, it’s certainly Herb & Dorothy which he says is, “engaging and thought-provoking at many levels, yet at the same time, highly accessible to all kinds of audiences. This is the only film that does not revolve around designers or artists but an American couple who spent all their time and money collecting art works just because ... they like to.”

Got designs on some tickets? Point your mouse to or to find out how you can get some.

Films To Watch
Herb & Dorothy
Perfect if you love art and harbor dreams of starting a collection worthy of a “mini MOMA,” but think you don’t belong to the chin-stroking, champers-swirling set that are regular fixtures at art openings. We guarantee that after watching this inspiring film, you’ll head out to your nearest art gallery and buy your first canvas. Herb & Dorothy is a documentary by first-time filmmaker Megumi Sasaki about Herb and Dorothy Vogel, the world’s most unassuming, famous and obsessive collectors of minimal and conceptual art.

Milton Glaser
You likely have a piece of his design in your home, probably on a mug, t-shirt or key-chain. We’re talking about the iconic I ♥ NY logo that’s been emblazoned on almost anything and everything in the Big Apple (much like our Merlion here) and widely imitated (unlike our Merlion. It’s uniquely Singapore!). Yes, that little logo was actually designed by someone and that person is illustrious graphic design guru Milton Glaser, whose works have graced countless book jackets, album covers, advertisements, direct mail pieces and magazine illustrations. Find out more in this biographical documentary about one of the greatest minds in design.

Beautiful Losers
Beautiful Losers is not a film about good-looking societal misfits nor is it based on Leonard Cohen’s book. But the group the film follows comprises of a very talented lot that skate, surf, listen to punk rock and hip hop, and spray paint on things—you know, misfits. With a defiant stand and a proverbial finger flipped to the “mainstream” art establishment, this bunch of rogue artists and designers have gone on to become successes in their own right, with some creating their very own movements. Artists featured in the film include Shepard Fairey, Geoff McFetridge, Mike Mills, Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen and Ed Templeton. 

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect
His buildings and structures have become the stuff of legend—the iconoclastic and massive Central China Television Headquarters Building in Beijing, the Guggenheim Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, the Seattle Library and countless others—earning him accolades like the Pritzker Prize (architecture’s Oscars) and even getting him named one of Time’s The World’s Most Influential People two years ago. Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect is a captivating look at the man and his ideas.

Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman
His sensuous aesthetics, composition and style create timeless photographs that epitomize modern architecture and 21st–century design. Name any major architect who worked in Los Angeles during the lifetime of architectural photography legend Julius Shulman—Pierre Koenig, John Lautner, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Mies Van der Rohe and countless others—and chances are Shulman  photographed their work. Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman chronicles the life of the celebrated lensman whose style has been an inspiration to many.