Singapore Creative Alvin Tan On His Art Curation For Cartier

Traditional Asian values and modern design come together in the French Maison's ION Orchard store

Alvin Tan

Alvin Tan, co-founder of art collective, Phunk

Featuring heritage jewellery flown in direct from Cartier’s archives in Paris, and 10 pieces of art curated by Singaporean creative Alvin Tan in collaboration with Singapore-based design firm LAANK, Cartier, Icon of Style is an exhibition which took place in December last year to commemorate Cartier’s new three-storey Singapore boutique, the largest in Southeast Asia. Now, Tan’s work has been put on permanent display at the brand’s ultra-exclusive Le Salon Cartier at the said store.

As the co-founder of art and design collective PHUNK, Alvin has over 25 years of experience in Asia’s art and design industry so it’s no surprise the French luxury house worked with him for the project. Working closely with the brand’s Store, Design & Planning and Visual Merchandising teams, the art curation took Alvin four months from conception to fruition and it has been one of his favourite commissioned projects to date. Below, BAZAAR speaks exclusively to Alvin about his selection and how the collaboration came about.

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Fragments Of Cartier

Photo: Courtesy

What was the inspiration behind your showcase for Cartier’s flagship Singapore store?

My driving inspiration was to tell a story of how age old cultures meet new world sensibilities because Cartier embraces Singapore as a “true cultural crossroad”- a cosmopolitan city rooted in traditions. The challenge was to let this narrative come through a curation of modern art objects with strong Asian values, keeping it forward-thinking, fresh, but not forgetting its traditional roots.

Do you have a favourite piece from the display?

“Fragments of the Heart” holds a special place for me. It’s a golden heart that’s encased in a bell jar, its faceted surface expresses beauty in complexity and diversity. The heart is a symbol that transcends all cultures as the archetype of love.

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Antique Bowl

Photo: Courtesy

Can you tell us a little about the process from conception to fruition?

I initially proposed a series of objects which were presented and shortlisted by the Cartier team in Paris. Every piece had to invoke a sense of Asia or Singapore with a contemporary twist, so you get a modern art object with a traditional essence.

How did the collaboration between yourself and Cartier initially come about?

The opportunity came when my friends at Laank Design, Cherin and Jason, approached me to take on this art curation. The curation theme was right up our alley, so we couldn’t wait to start the art hunting. It’s pretty amazing to curate art for a luxury brand, but it’s even more special when you get to do it with your friends.

What’s next for Alvin Tan?

I’m working on a new series of art-inspired jewellery called “Fragments Of”. I wanted to create wearable sculptures, and a fellow artist, Shimin, joined me in giving it life through 3D printing. We’ve created a series with Mr Sabotage and will be launching a new collection at Boutique Fairs. Think postmodern art with a punk ethos rolled into costume jewellery. It is also PHUNK’s 25th anniversary next year, we’re currently working on a museum art commission and planning on a travelling exhibition to all our favourite cities.

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