Week 3. /Museum Reflection

About the gallery:

The Modern Colony gallery we went to on Chinese New year’s eve explores the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore as the British crown colony from the 1920s to the 1930s, through the review of the wealthy life of Peranakan Chinese and Chinese immigrants. The progression of Singapore during that period was most evidently shown through the improvement of a female social status and identity. The exhibition looks into how household women express their modern identities and the challenges they face while they play their respective roles in an increasingly globalized Singapore. 

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In the gallery, I was particularly fascinated by the amount of detail of the cloth’s surface design and the meticulous effort put into making it. The cloths are mostly embroidered with elaborate floral motifs and lace patterns. The material and amount of details embroidered on a shoe can distinguish the social status of a woman in the society in that period. Wealthy women wore shoes with intricate designs and patterns while poor laborers wore just plain black flatshoes. 

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Moving on to the main dish, these cheongsams features a variety of styles, colours and materials. Most of the cheongsam however, have slender cuttings. A slit was added to the left side of the dress while the right side was secured with chinese knotted buttons. This feature makes the ladies’ curve more prominent – a style that was in trend in the 1930s in Singapore.  These cheongsams are the type of dresses that a wealthy 1930s Singaporean woman would be wearing. On the other hand, poor laborers were wearing plain white clothing with loose cutting.

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My favorite piece in the gallery was the Patchwork baby carrier. Women (Amahs) employed to take care of the babies would often use such carrier to piggyback the baby. As many Amahs were excellent seamstresses,  they made carriers like this for babies under their charge. I once had a patchworked or quilt blanket passed down from my grandma when I was young. Although many people might have used it before, I still love the blanket as it was super comfortable and it was filled with a mother’s warmth.  Now the blanket belongs to my baby nephew. 

All in all, I learnt from this trip to the museum that the design of a surface of a product, the material or color choice all play a part in conveying the concept of the product. Every product has a personality and every decision a product designer makes for his or her product should echo with the ultimate personality of the product.

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