Bynd Artisan Innovation by Design Conference FUSSY Singapore Article-04

JAMES AND WINNIE ON BYND ARTISAN’S TOTAL DESIGN

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An article we’ve been quite excited to put out there is this one where Bynd Artisan founders, James and Winnie, talked about designing their brand, at the Innovation by Design Conference 2017. We knew Bynd Artisan beforehand and what they do, but not to the extent of this talk they held whereby we really understood how they functioned and what their values were.

It started out to be a modern interpretation of Winnie’s grandfather’s trade, which is considered as a ‘sunset industry’ – an old and declining industry. But they realized it was not capturing the essence of what they were trying to achieve.

Their challenge was to make an old school traditional stationery and paper/leather business more relatable in today’s context, in hopes of reviving it. So they did a total design overhaul by building the brand, taking into consideration the people, the interior, the experience, the product, and how they can collaborate with other creative.


  • 2 Years of Brand Conceptualization
  • Their branding took a total of 2 years since 2012. They first experimented by modelling for their own brand but realized it wasn’t authentic and did not make use of Winnie’s grandfather’s heritage. So they shifted to an emotional concept where they had the craftsmen at the forefront, with a 74-year-old master craftsman as their poster boy and working on simple machines instead of complex ones.
Something Worth SharingBynd Artisan's Ethos
It’s the heritage and experiences of their craftsmen that they want to share. They could now actually create jobs for artisans with decades of experience, especially if it’s a craft that many might not appreciate anymore. They needed to train and groom them to be service oriented, presentable and for some, to even use the Point of Sale (POS) machine.

  • People Design
  • They took a step further and realized that the craftsmen and store assistants had their own characteristics. By allowing them to be in a position of where they were comfortable at was important. Mr Chong Beng Cheng, a master craftsman, likes tinkering with his hands. So they encouraged him to conduct workshops and found that he could even crack jokes with a younger audience.

    James also remembered an instance where another staff of theirs, Mr Lee, came up to him one day and told James that he had a very important issue. The issue was that his apron was missing a ‘B’ in the Bynd Artisan logo, after having used it for some time. It was then James realized that he did not need to worry about how they presented themselves as they actually took pride in their uniform and appearance.

    He also talked about Grace. She was very people oriented and always greeting customers with a smile, so she was given the position of an assistant store manager. What we really like about the people aspect they have adopted, is that they actually placed their personalities and well being as a priority, instead of training them just to fill a position in their store.


  • Interior Design
  • As for their interior design, they wanted to steer away from the typical bookstore where one would be bombarded with the over abundance of products with a shop owner who would sit at the counter to wait for you to approach them with your purchase. They revamped the concept into a polished industrial look, with uniforms for their store assistants and craftsmen. They also placed their craftsmen at the forefront of the store, so that you may see them working on the books upon entering, to further enhance and share their heritage. With an added touch of some art pieces made from old letterpress plates on the walls.

  • Product and Experience Design
  • Another important aspect would be their product and experience design. In order for businesses to stay relevant, it’s not just about selling the product to customers; it’s about enabling a customer to feel for the brand. For Bynd Artisan’s case, the rapport between their craftsmen and customer has to be strong.

    They had to listen and produce. Meaning they had to understand what customers wanted and then make it available for them. One customer said that when travelling overseas, he would always use a local SIM card, which meant that he needed to put aside his Singapore SIM card. In the process of travelling around, his Singapore SIM card would always be missing, as there wasn’t a proper slot to contain it anywhere. Bynd Artisan listened and created a Passport Holder with two SIM card slots.


  • Notebooks
  • Their notebooks are also fully customizable. From the paper to the binder, snap button to the elastic band. Ensuring that customers could pick out that perfect notebook for themselves or their loved ones. Although some might be spoilt for choice, FUSSY approves cause well we’re FUSSY.

  • Collaborations with other creative
  • James and Winnie also understood that they needed to have collaborations with other creative in order to expand and reach a wider audience. Similar to the talk by Barry Wacksman on Functional Integration, Bynd Artisan has worked with creatives like Gentle Bones (Music) and Ong Shunmugam (Fashion). They have branded themselves as a lifestyle company, not just a paper or leather one.

At the end of their talk, James and Winnie highlighted the fact that what’s most important is the people. Part of why they have reached where they are now, is due to the fact that their people really cared for the brand and treats it as if it were their own. It showed in the store, in the attitudes of their craftsmen and store assistants, and customers can feel the authenticity and sincerity. They hope to make Bynd Artisan an iconic brand of Singapore.

Images: Bynd Artisan

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