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Interview with Set Designer Tina Fung

Tina Fung is a multidisciplinary artist and set designer.

Tina Fung is a multidisciplinary artist and designer that shifted to set design, born and raised in Denmark. She lived in London, where she got a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Interior and Spatial Design from a leading British art and design institution Chelsea College of Art & Design, University of the Arts. Tina has collected more than a decade of working experience in Copenhagen, London, and Singapore. She co-founded Space Objekt with Ash Razaque. Space Objekt is a creative design studio focusing on creating art installations for both the commercial and arts sectors. Tina is the principal set designer and artist of the studio. Highlights of Tina’s vast portfolio under the auspices of Space Objekt include art installations for internationally known events such as Summer Well Festival in Romania, Singapore Art Week, and Ultra Music Festival. Her experiential set design and installations extend to the lifestyle sector as well, having collaborated with lifestyle brands such as Gucci, Sephora, Adidas, and Aesop. Tina has even diversified into film set production. She has worked on commercials for Universal Studios Singapore and worked with personalities including filmmaker Jacky Lee, as well as singer-songwriter Charlie Lim and EDM wunderkind Jasmine Sokko. Tina is also a TEDx speaker who has shared her ideas about the importance of shareable art through social media platforms and has conducted a masterclass on exploring the creative process and applying it in this fast-changing, new media world.

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What’s the story behind your motivation to become an artist and set designer? Who influenced you as a person and as a creative?

My motivation to become a designer/artist really came from a host of influences growing up. I was always interested in making things and attended several afterschool programs as a kid. Looking back, these were all arts-related. From art, music to dance, you name it. All my teachers/mentors influenced me as a creative person. My parents taught me the value of hard work ethics.

set designer Tina Fung
Bloom Room for Branson Aquarium, USA

Why did you choose to move to Singapore? Can you tell us how you started Space Objekt?

My move to Singapore was very spontaneous. An opportunity for a role at an interior design studio landed and I decided to have a go at it. Having only lived in Europe until the point where I moved, I saw it as a good opportunity to explore Asia, and Singapore seemed like a good “Asia for beginners” so to say. Establishing Space Objekt happened very organically. Again, this wasn’t planned. I hate planning too far ahead, and tend to live in a very organic way. I have a “See where things go” approach to life. I started getting more enquiries for installation commissions from the government and commercial sectors, and so it only made sense to incorporate a company.

Space Objekt, cofounded by Tina Fung and Ash Razaque, is a Singapore-based boutique design studio that is reshaping the understanding of built environments and reimagining spatial experiences. Established with a collective vision of making art accessible to all. Space Objekt aspires to spark joy through their work, be it small-scale props, immersive larger-than-life installations, or even interior design. When art thrives, art grows. Tina and Ash hope to redefine spaces and connect audiences with the world through this new visual language.

Gucci Gothic for Gucci

What are the main challenges in your profession? What are the greatest satisfactions?

Some of the main challenges I face include the fast turnarounds expected from clients; especially in Asia. As communication and technology are developing and constantly speeding up, we are becoming more connected in a faster way than ever. The design process still requires time, and I strongly believe that research, reflection, and investigation is a critical part of the process that requires time. My greatest satisfaction is going through the process from start to finish. Seeing my “big idea” unravel and executed in its entirety on-site and how audiences engage with the work excites me.

Tina learned how to connect people with spaces and at the same time how to evoke a welcoming sense of place where communities can thrive

Shades Of Self. Photo by Irving Neil Kwok

Can you share with us any meaningful story behind one of your work Projects?

My installation Harmony sits close to my heart. We were commissioned by Sentosa to create an installation. The brief was very open, and so this meant that we had a blank canvas to work with. I wanted to create an installation that was recognized through form, a silhouette of a heart-shaped hand. I just wanted to share the love and it was humbling to see how everyone shared their love through mimicking the shape of the heart using their hands. Our studio aspires to spark joy through our work, be it small-scale props, immersive larger-than-life installations, or even interior design. When art thrives, art grows. When art grows, it inspires, making it relevant to today.

Harmony, photo by Arahim

You are originally from Copenhagen, you were trained in London, and you are currently based in Singapore. Which were the biggest advantages, of living in different parts of the world?

The biggest advantage of living in different parts of the world for me was being able to step out of my comfort zone, in return helping me grow personally and professionally. The best part is having friends all over the world.

Labradorescence, Summerwell Festival, Romania by Tina Fung X Reza Hasni

How much has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your work?

It affected our work very much. We had some really great projects lined up in 2020 in countries I’ve never visited before, and I was really looking forward to these. Since we work on a lot of events-based installations, these have been canceled or postponed. Contractors have been affected greatly which meant that manpower has been cut. With less manpower, affecting the typical deliverable timelines. On the flip side, the pandemic has also taught me how to work remotely which we have done successfully for our overseas projects in the US for Branson Aquarium, and another one we are working on in Los Angeles.

Tina’s ethnic roots are from Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Kaleidoscope for Branson Aquarium, USA

What was your reaction when you first heard about the rise in Asian hate crimes?

First reaction: 1. We can’t let the fear get to us. 2. I’m not surprised.

Paradigm Shift for Adidas

Anti-Asian racism, violent crimes, and assaults are on the rise in the U.S.A. Many people in the E.U. talk about constant passive-aggressive racism. Have you or someone you know ever been the subject of microaggression or bias?

Yes, throughout my upbringing in Europe and also living in Singapore. Xenophobia and rental racism are subtle but they exist in Singapore despite being a multicultural society. Having experienced firsthand during my apartment hunting time here, many of our enquiries were rejected due to my partner’s race. In the end, we managed to rent from a diversity-friendly landlord.

Mahkota, photo by atsusingapore

Some people don’t consider anti-Asian racism a problem that needs to be addressed. Increased awareness about these issues could turn the tide. How to prompt and act for a more impactful change?

Any type of discrimination needs to be addressed in order to change the way society behaves for the future of our well-being and younger generations. I think social media is a great platform to a certain extent. It is the first step and also the most entry-level form of advocacy; which is very present now. Remember that Anti-racism is not a hashtag. You can share a post on Instagram, but you’re not really doing all the work. Be mindful, be kind. Donate or volunteer to community groups to help raise Asian groups like artists, activists to speak up.

Photos courtesy of Tina Fung & Space Objekt
Featured image: STUDIO PERIPHERY

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