Dwell 24: Gabriel Tan Studio/Origin

A vacation to Portugal in 2014 planted the seed for what would become Singapore-born designer Gabriel Tan’s design collaborative‚ Origin.
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During Tan's holiday, a visit to an artisan’s workshop in Barcelos (near Porto) opened his eyes to how much design was being produced in the country for top international brands. Tan‚ 37‚ decided the time had come to properly recognize the provenance of these objects‚ giving both designer and maker equal attention. 

"I wanted this to be about not just where the company is branded from‚ but where the pieces are actually made."

Dwell 24: Gabriel Tan Studio/Origin - Photo 1 of 4 -

Each piece in Origin’s line is labeled with the names of the designer and craftsperson. He tapped a mix of designers—including Hugo Passos‚ Zoë Mowat‚ and Pauline Deltour—to collaborate with artisans to create pieces ranging from stone bowls to wooden coat pegs‚ in addition to creating pieces of his own. Next‚ Tan will bring Origin’s globe-trotting concept to Brazil.

The Skyladder Shelves (Ariake Collection) by Gabriel Tan Studio 

The Skyladder Shelves (Ariake Collection) by Gabriel Tan Studio 

Learn why his creative ritual is one he does while commuting, and more responses to our Q&A, below.

Hometown: Singapore

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I design furniture and objects. I also creatively direct a few brands: Turn handles, Ariake, and Origin, which is my own brand.

What's the last thing you designed? A lamp in translucent porcelain, which we are currently prototyping. 

Do you have a daily creative ritual? I love to sketch while commuting.

How do you procrastinate? Yes, by constantly thinking there is a way to make the design better

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The bucket, because I see many functional and aesthetic inconveniences with the current designs.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, or in both)? George Nelson for his vision, his creative direction, and his work for Herman Miller, which he turned it into a global design company.

The Stove Chair for Bla Station by Gabriel Tan Studio. 

The Stove Chair for Bla Station by Gabriel Tan Studio. 

What skill would you most like to learn? To surf

What is your most treasured possession? My moleskin. I never leave home without it, cliché as it may sound.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? Drawing ships and planes without really knowing how exactly they look. 

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Massive and fabulous design

Are you left-handed or right-handed? Left

Finish this statement: All design should...be functional and beautiful.

I sketch with a…pen.

I work best with…music.

I do my best work...sometime in the evening.

My studio is…a hive of productive clutter.

Instagram is...a homogenizing force in the design world.

Pieces from the Charred Vases Series by Gabriel Tan Studio/Origin.

Pieces from the Charred Vases Series by Gabriel Tan Studio/Origin.

Choose one: Bauhaus, Memphis, or Brutalist? Bauhaus

Rank the following: (1) Form, (2) Function, and (3) Fun 

Choose one: Less is More, Just Enough is Enough, or More is More? Less is More

Choose one: Past, Present, or Future? Present

If you had to pick a favorite material, what would it be? Wood

What’s in your dream house? A Braun vinyl player

 You can follow Tan on his studio's website or on Instagram. You can also check out the Origin collaborative's website or on Instagram.

Want more? 

Return to the Dwell 24 homepage and check out the other designers

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See advice from 10 of today’s biggest designers.

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