Your unusual exhibition design is a response to how “preachy” discussions around
waste and sustainability have become. How is it so?
Kinetic Singapore (KS): In recent years, sustainability has
been a hot topic. Every socially conscious brand, personality and well-meaning
organisation has spoken up on it, whether through marketing and advertising efforts,
community outreach or their social media channels. Of course, this is a good thing
given the varied environmental problems we face now, and which, sadly, our future
generations will inherit. But the sheer volume of communication on this issue can be
overwhelming. It becomes a blind spot as the public gets used to the same message,
delivered again and again in the same top-down manner.
In Singapore, we are so used to national campaigns that tell us what to do — from
stopping at two kids, to speaking Mandarin, to being gracious — that there is always
a danger of educational messages being dismissed by a jaded audience. This is not to
say that such campaigns have not been effective. It’s just that we recognise the
times have changed, and perhaps a more subtle delivery would be more palatable to
the audience of today. Before we had our eureka moment, we already knew we wanted to
take a different approach, one that would hopefully catch people’s attention instead
of turning them off.
The exhibition appropriates the familiar setting of a “convenience store” to present
its critique on the culture of convenience. How might such an approach offer a new
KS: The [Not-So] Convenience Store is a perfect example of form following function.
While we wanted a different kind of educational exhibition, it was really the
concept that informed the final form. Addressing the problem of waste starts with
tackling our wasteful habits, which in turn requires a re-examination of our
mindset. As a nation used to prizing speed and efficiency, weaning Singaporeans off
the culture of convenience can be an uphill task. Once we recognised that zero waste
from the get-go was impossible, we aimed to nudge people towards taking small
sustainable steps instead.
In this regard, the familiar guise of the ubiquitous convenience store is a great
advantage. Everybody knows what it is and what it stands for, ensuring that our
conceptual twist can be easily grasped. As compared to the more formal setting of
conventional exhibition formats, the reassuringly familiar set-up of The [Not-So]
Convenience Store makes the sustainability message more accessible right away.