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Designer's Musings -
Reading : The Oasis Amidst The Daily Hustle

Thursday 14/3/24

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I remembered my father will bring me on trips to the National Library at a very tender age. The lovely red bricks of Stamford National Library lives in my memory even after they had demolished it to make way for the current SMU Campus 20 years ago. 


I look forward to those bonding times when my Dad will read me books borrowed from the library. I remembered they were mostly Chinese pictorial books for children, and they were historical stories extolling values of courage, honesty, piety and kindness. Our family wasn’t well to do so these weekly library trips with my parents and sister make up the most exciting times and the reading inculcated in us strong moral values.


I guess this love of reading grew to a love for writing, literature, poetry, music and drawing. The cherished gifts which I still keep today was a thick fairy tales book given by my Dad and Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Forest and Wishing Well given by my Mum for scoring well in class in Primary School.  


From immersing in tales by Hans Anderson, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton as a child, I now read extensively into non-fiction. I am naturally curious and I think no humans can withstand my incessant questions so I resort to reading to find answers. These perhaps served as a knowledge reservoir and expansive imagination which I draw from when designing clothes now.


Running a business is a choice I made and a marathon. When I am frustrated or meet a bottle neck, I retreat into my inner world of reading to find the answers I need. What do I read? I read biographies, leadership, philosophy, psychology, Chinese Culture, branding, poetry, floral arrangement, Harvard Business Reviews, magazines etc.  I try to read extensively on a subject before designing a collection.


For example when I am designing The Peony Collection inspired by the same name famous Kun Opera 牡丹亭, I read up on the history and development of Chinese Opera and the evolution of how this famous opera story has been adapted in the last decades. I hope to acquire as much knowledge as I can before distilling them into the fashion pieces I design and making them relevant in today’s modern world.  


As a creator myself, I know the extensive research followed by the compilation of the author’s experience and endless editing that goes into writing a book. The least I can do to show support is to buy a copy and read the fruits of labour.  So wherever I travel, I end up shipping boxes of books back. They are the treasures of a bibliophile. To destress, I go to a book store to find a book and read. One of my dreams is to have a comprehensive library.


书中自有黄金屋。 It is a famous axiom that one can find riches in books. I too hope that you like me can find the oasis and enjoy the richness of life when reading.   

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