We speak to twin architects-turned-scarf designers Sari and Santhi of Binary Style on what gave them the inspiration to transform local landscapes into beautiful scarf prints.
What gave you the idea to start your scarf label Binary Style?
Sari: Binary Style came out of our personal obsession with scarves. They’re so versatile and keep you warm in Singapore’s freezing malls. We were trained as architects, and love drawing urban scenes, and thought that there’s no better medium to present them than on scarves. One of our first designs depicting urban scenes is the Tiong Bahru scarf, and it proved so popular as people were fascinated by the level of architectural details they could find. From there, we started designing pieces that showcase urban history, nature and biodiversity. There are many beautiful scarves out there, but ours tell Singapore stories.
How do you go about selecting a landscape to use in your designs?
Sari: We’re always drawn to present something that we personally love. For me, that’s the historical districts, such as Chinatown and Joo Chiat. Also, being an avid hiker, I have a fondness for the nature reserves of Singapore. I want to be able to capture all the things that I can see, feel and smell in the design.
Santhi: I try to imagine the landscape on a scarf. Something can be interesting in real life but not necessarily make a nice pattern on scarf. I also like choosing sites that are easily recognisable.
What are some architecturally underrated neighbourhoods in Singapore?
Santhi: As an architect, I get frustrated when I see a place that doesn’t live up to its potential, and I try to imagine how it can be converted into something more attractive and notable. The Rail Mall area in Upper Bukit Timah is underrated – there’s so much history in it and it’s just next to a beautiful old railway bridge. There’s so much that can be done to make it more inviting and meaningful, so it can be a great urban space not just aesthetically but also socially.
Who are your favourite local designers and craftspeople?
Sari: I have many – Singapore is such a hotbed of creative designers and makers. The energy is simply unstoppable and you can feel it all around you. I love WOHA for their wonderful architecture and Carolyn Kan of Carrie K. for her stunning jewellery designs and her passion.
As former architects, how has your design philosophy been reflected in your own home?
Santhi: After 15 years of living in Singapore my husband and I finally bought our own place, and I wanted it to be a reflection of our stories and our lifestyle. I love colours and I’ve always dreamed of having a rustic-style wooden dining table. I finally found one during a sourcing trip in Jogjakarta. During the same trip I spotted an antique carved bedframe with the most striking colour combination. We converted it into a mirror frame and hung it next to our dining table.
This is adapted from an article originally written by Sharon Salim in the August 2016 issue of SquareRooms.