By Kelsey & Yimin

In Craftsmanship, there is always a gift for every occasion and every person.

December 25, 2022

The atelier has a full black facade, adding to the modern and aesthetic vibe of the alley. As we walked closer to the shop, it was quite a surprise to see a vintage Heidelberg Letterpress showcased at the entrance, seemingly incongruous with the crisp and clean-looking exterior.

Upon entering the room, a mini working station surrounded by a sleek black table immediately catches one’s eye. It is where the magic happens, a workstation for artisans to personalise leather or paper products and customised notebooks. The left side of the room houses shelves lined with notebook covers, paper types, and notebook accessories, while leather products are displayed on the right ranging from passport holders, card holders and book jackets.

Bynd Artisan Flagship Atelier, Holland Village

Further down the room, there is a noticeable change in the ambience. This interior section utilises raw textures such as unpainted posts and walls, a complete opposite of what we saw upon entering the room.

Two different interior design styles but there is a sense of balance that is appealing and unexpected. Stylish and sleek yet warm and inviting. To us, it seems to be a reflection of Bynd Artisan’s business; one in which hand craftsmanship is tightly held onto, in a market where products are mostly cheaply mass-produced by machines.

The Soul of Bynd Artisan

The people of Bynd Artisan hope to bring joy to the community and deliver their customers' heartfelt emotions to their loved ones through products and experiences. This is made possible because of the small band of locally trained crafters in Bynd Artisan.

One of the remarkable individuals we chatted with, Mr BC Chong, was unreserved in sharing about his many years in the industry. Having more than five decades of experience has certainly not dulled his passion for the craft. On the contrary, it has sharpened the knowledge and technical skill set of this adroit craftsman.

There was unconcealed excitement within Mr Chong throughout our conversation — whipping out a mini wallet he had customised for personal use, he eagerly elaborated on his handiwork. Because of the durable hand-stitching, the wallet is highly resistant to wear and tear despite regular usage and has served Mr Chong well for many years. Replicating the design with a mini star purse, he walked us through the stitching process.

Through a lifetime of practice and learning, the artisans know their craft by heart — from the characteristics of different papers to the intricacies of thread wire bindings, covers, and fasteners. They understand how each detail plays a vital role in every piece they make.

The art of crafting is beyond just piecing different things together. It's a connection of something deeper. It's the amount of effort and thought the artisans put into every craft they make.

Portrait of Mr BC Chong, the Master Craftsman of Bynd Artisan

Staying Relevant in the Ever-Changing Era

People of this age have easier access to gadgets than ever. Many people choose iPads and stylus pencils over traditional notebooks.

Out of curiosity, we asked Mr Chong for his views on this era’s heavy reliance on technology. He firmly believes that certain things, such as journaling and scrapbooking, cannot be replaced. The thought of being able to customise a product based on you or your loved ones’ preferences makes the item more personalised and special.

Ms Grace Chai, a Craftswoman of Bynd Artisan

After much thought, we decided to customise our own notebook. Ms Grace, another notable artisan, deftly formed the notebook to our requirements. In the course of assembling the different pieces together, she constantly checked the name personalisation placements and other materials with us. With her fine eye for detail, she also suggested colour combinations for a more aesthetically-pleasing notebook.

All these gestures reflect her love for the craft, making our overall experience incomparable from buying a ready-made notebook at a stationery shop. Watching our personalised notebook come to life was a gratifying experience we are thankful we did not miss.

“It does not matter how our traditions will be manifested and transformed over time, so long as at the end of the day we pass on the skills, the spirit of open culture and innovation and the mindset of preserving traditions.”

With our visit to the atelier, we were able to experience the mission and vision of Bynd Artisan — to uphold the crafters' love for handcrafting, spread warmth and build connections with the community through the hands of their artisans.

Through handcrafting, intangible things can come to life. At times, we ponder over what to give our loved ones during special occasions. Hand craftsmanship allows us to consider a more meaningful and valuable gift. From thinking about what will be useful to them and remembering their favourite colours, all the little details make a customised product unique to the recipient.

Collaboration Projects

Aside from Bynd Artisan's regular product range, they frequently collaborate with various practitioners from different fields. As creatives, this allows them to inspire and complement each other’s areas of expertise.

One of the collections shared with us was the Picture Perfect Frame collaboration with Priscilla Tan. 

Ranging from luggage tag, mirror, notebook and frame, each product features heartfelt, honest lyrics from Priscilla’s song “Picture Perfect Frame”.

The collection addresses the “Picture Perfect” culture on social media to encourage more people to withhold sharing only life’s highlights. Instead, to normalise a healthier culture of sharing our lowlights - our struggles and work-in-progress states.

Bynd Artisan has many ongoing and upcoming collaborations we can constantly look forward to!

Image Credit: Bynd Artisan, Picture Perfect Frame Collection