By Kelley Cheng, 1 September 2021

1\ Sage is a perennial, drought-resistant herb mainly used for healing purposes. It grows best when there is abundant sunshine. Aside from Sage’s healing purposes, it has many other uses such as purification because of its antimicrobial agents that fight harmful bacteria.

2\ Sage is a person distinguished for wisdom, such as a profound philosopher. Sage can also be a mature or venerable person of sound judgment.

It was the beginning of 2020. I just wrapped up my 20th anniversary exhibition at the National Design Centre when we started to get news about a strange contagious virus spreading in Wuhan. There was not any notion of fear in me still as I thought that it will not travel so far to our little island.

By February, this virus has escalated into a global pandemic and it has even been given an official name by then - Covid-19. In April, Singapore was badly hit as well and the government declared an emergency lockdown for 2 months, and we were all to stay home, work from home and do everything at home. It could have been really nice to stay and work at home for 2 months but the downside is that many of our works were stopped or put on hold overnight.

Homebound and suddenly with much spare time on hand, I started to think about what could be a dream project for me at this point of my life. And that was when the idea of Studio SML was birthed. I hope that the stories in Studio SML can inspire and be a source of reflection for our design community, to provide respite and recharge for the creative mind during this time of the pandemic. Produced in a time of adversity, much like the spirit of most designers - who often thrive despite hardships - Studio SML embodies the same spirit of Sage, the herb.

Studio SML is conceptualised to be a progressive project. It hopes to archive and document the journeys and stories of Singapore designers - young and old - creating a comprehensive volume of Singapore design history that can be accessed by current and future generation of students, designers and everyone who loves design and wants to have an understanding of what goes on behind the creation of design. In that light, Studio SML takes on the role of a vessel that shares knowledge and teachings, much like a Sage, the wise one.