Exhibitionist: Pedderzine Uncatalogued, an exhibition that celebrates Hong Kong retailer On Pedder's seasonal magazine, Pedderzine, opens today in Central.
Launched in 2007, Pedderzine is half catalogue, half design and art showcase. Under the creative direction of Singapore-based graphic designer Theseus Chan, each issue sets shoe and handbag styles in the work of Chan and other designers and artists.
From the beginning, Chan says, the concept behind the magazine was to step away from stereotypical formats and styles associated with luxury magazines or catalogues.
"I have always been inspired to create a surprise in printed matter and challenge myself to constantly evolve my work," he says. " Pedderzine allows me to do that. I don't think it comes out looking very contrived or predictable."
Each issue is conceived and designed independently of past issues and the products it showcases. Chan has almost complete creative freedom to take any direction he likes.
For the autumn-winter 2008 issue, for example, Chan was inspired by the patina of an old musical instrument and says he wanted the magazine to have the look and feel of something distressed and aged. In another issue, Chan mixed fashion with biology in what he describes as a National Geographic parody, in which bags and shoes come alive with mutant-like appendages.
Such visual twists are a trademark of the designer, who continually explores themes of juxtaposition and subversion in his work - a style that has won him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including Designer of the Year at the 2006 Singapore President's Design Award, and several D&AD Yellow Pencils, Laus and HKDA awards. Chan was also named one of the world's top 100 designers in Phaidon's Area 2 graphic design guide in 2008.
After studying graphic design at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore, Chan spent almost a decade working in advertising before founding his own design consultancy, Work, in 1996. In 2001 he launched the experimental design publication Werk, which follows a similar free-design concept to Pedderzine.
"Both allow me to express or experiment with things that aren't applicable to a lot of commercial jobs," Chan says. "I have the freedom to push boundaries." That quality has been rare in the print medium until the past decade or so, he says, as other types of design have generally shown more innovation.
Things are changing, however, and Chan says graphic design has stepped away from its historical roots in advertising and communications to become a much more expressive and artistic form, with graphic designers collaborating more on artistic or fashion works.
"At the moment there's a lot of crossover between art, design and fashion," he says. "I think they are all connected and influence one another, so there's a lot of transformation of ideas from all sorts of areas of design. Graphic design is often used by fashion designers to create prints, but it can be used as a tool for fashion designers to explore even further."
Chan's own collaborations with fashion designers and retailers, include Japanese fashion label Comme des Garcons, Parisian retailer Colette, Louis Vuitton, Yayoi Kusama and Adidas Originals.
Exhibitionist: Pedderzine Uncatalogued, curated by Shin Wong of Madhouse Contemporary, features images from the first 10 issues of the magazine, along with three-dimensional artwork inspired by past designs. A commemorative issue of Pedderzine and window displays at Joyce that include works by local video art duo Yamanyamo will coincide with the exhibition.
"The whole idea behind the exhibition is exhibitionist in every sense of the word," Chan says, "showing off the new season, showing off the artwork and showing off the past 10 issues."
Exhibitionist: Pedderzine Uncatalogued, 7 On Lan Street, Central, tel: 2118 3489