One-of-a-kind. A trendsetter.
These are ways one can describe the petite and intrepid designer, Tiffany Loy. Donned in her signature sartorial black elegance and Japanese bob, the award-winning and critically acclaimed textile weaver chases knowledge from continent to continent.
Artists are always looking for the sweet spot - “ahead of the curve”, if you will - where the timid fear to go, where failure may happen, but where success promises recognition.
And today, that search for the elusive sweet spot has landed the National University of Singapore (NUS) alumna in London.
Nine years after her graduation from NUS’ School of Design and Environment in 2010, Tiffany is now pursuing a Master’s degree in textiles at London’s Royal College of Art on a DesignSingapore scholarship.
This is an opportunity open to only a handful of designers in Singapore each year. Understanding how valuable this experience is, Tiffany embraces the many challenges and unexpected joys in her regular day.
“I’m actually happy to return home feeling sufficiently tired on an effective day,” she admits. “I feel intellectually stimulated, as I’m surrounded by other designers in different fields within the textile discipline such as print, knit, and more.”
At the Royal College of Art, Tiffany specialises in weaving, a skill she first picked up in NUS during a fellowship with the NUS Design Incubation Centre (DIC).
“I was encouraged by the director, Patrick Chia, to be independent in learning and to be involved in every stage of a project,” Tiffany shares. “This is so as to understand what it means to be a designer. I found the best way to learn was to test my own limits – even if it went so far as doing everything on my own.”
The textile-embossing instrument was created based on previous research on textile heat-setting techniques.
And that was her favourite part of NUS: its open culture that promotes learning through every stage of a project.
Tiffany explains: “As a student, I felt that I could express myself quite freely and interpret the project briefs in my own way. The freedom to explore is very important for a student who is making first contact with design.”
In fact, this freedom to design led to her picking up a valuable soft skill that is just as crucial as an artist’s skill: clarity in thinking.
“I continually question why and what I do in every project: from knowing what you want, or don’t want, in your work, to being critical of one’s own work,” Tiffany reveals.
This focus on the “why” has led Tiffany to produce unique and critically acclaimed designs - some of which have even been exhibited in the prestigious museums of Singapore, Kyoto and Milan. She has also clinched several design awards, such as the Sangetsu Wallpaper Design Award by the Japanese floor and wall coverings company, and has been featured in magazines such as Singapore Home and Decor, and Singapore Tatler Homes. As an entrepreneur, Tiffany also enjoys commercial success with the launch of her Supertextures collection that is available internationally.
A 3D textile creation by Tiffany as part of her Textile Transmutations project which first exhibited in Triennale di Milano in 2015.
To date, the award-winning designer’s quirky and unassuming designs have brought pride and recognition to Singapore.
One such design is Tiffany’s Parasolbag - where she breathes new life into discarded fabrics.
A tote bag made entirely from fabric offcuts, each Parasolbag weaves design and sustainability together to present an environmentally-friendly and intricately unique creation.
The inherently curious Tiffany enjoys dreaming up new approaches for every project. She says: “It’s about challenging the status quo, in order to realise the full potential in fabrication methods.”
This potential was fully realised with Parasolbag.
“It started as a design and communicative project - to promote the idea of using one factory’s waste as raw material for another,” Tiffany says.
“Every project is only as challenging as you want it to be,” says Tiffany, who considers this a personal mantra.
Parasolbag brought to life in fun and vibrant colours.
“As a person who is inclined to challenge norms and defaults, I usually end up creating problems for myself,” she shares. “But then again, how can a project be interesting if there are no challenges?”
As Parasolbag shows, she enjoys challenging herself through using alternative production methods to generate unexpected results in her work.
Another highlight was a seven-month-long textile-embossing project she took on while at the Division of Industrial Design (DID) of NUS, which was exhibited in Milan as part of The Alchemists exhibition.
“It was the most engaging project amongst those done within the DID,” Tiffany shares. “To have my work exhibited at La Triennale di Milano, an established design and art museum in Milan, Italy, was a real privilege. It is a prestigious venue for an exhibition, especially during the design week in April.”
Tiffany set up her studio after her time at the Design Incubator Centre at NUS.
Image Credit: Division of Industrial Design, NUS School of Design & Environment
While there is no doubt Tiffany’s creations have, and will continue to, influence the design world, she doesn’t let herself get distracted by fame or delusions of grandeur.
All Tiffany hopes to offer is fresh perspective and insight.
She said: “Everyone can be inspired by various ideas and people - I don't think I need to inspire people in a specific way.”
“For every project, whether it's a commission or self-initiated, all I hope to offer is something new to the table,” she shared.
Till this day, Tiffany still cannot verbalise why she chose to pursue art - she just knew, deep down, that this was something she had to do.
As an artist, she found herself naturally gravitating towards the field of textiles. Supported by her loved ones, she decided to embrace her emotions and gut feeling, and jump headfirst into her design dream.
And it is a dream that Tiffany is extremely glad she has pursued.