After a 4-year long hiatus, Singapores Peranakan Museum has reopened its doors to the world once again. The museum is the world’s first and only museum dedicated to Peranakan culture, a culture indigenous to the Southeast Asian region and famous for its delicious food, colorful ceramics, and intricate textiles.
In 2019, the National Heritage Board announced that the museum would close for redevelopment. Working closely together with the team at the National Heritage Board, the brand practice at Anak was tasked with rebuilding the brand across all of the different physical and digital touchpoints that would come with the newly transformed space.
Anak was tasked with injecting “new life into Peranakan culture” by creating a refreshed brand identity for its de jure HQ – the Peranakan Museum.
Anak said it drew inspiration not just from their artifacts or their patterns – they additionally made the Peranakan attitude the heart of the new brand. Instead of merely celebrating what they created, Anak chose to celebrate the creativity that built a world of unapologetic beauty.
As Anak describes it: “The core brand idea ‘Chelop’ – which means ‘to dip into’ in Peranakan Malay – is both an essence and an invitation. It represents the act of throwing oneself head-first into another culture for the purpose of reinterpretation.”
Using the Museum’s 5000-plus-strong collection of artifacts, documents, and verbal histories, Anak deep built a multimedia library of patterns and motifs, informed by the crafts (tiling, adorning) and the creations (food, textiles) of Peranakan culture.
These patterns which once brightened homes and livened wardrobes, were updated for a new world of social media, projection mapping and more.
“Peranakan culture—the lifeblood of Straits-born emigres—is vibrant, sardonic, beautiful, over-the-top and ever-changing,” said Hanyi Lee, Creative Partner at Anak.
“As we embarked on this journey, it was important to us that we did so in way that was authentic and resonant to the culture. Our job was to remove it from the past and bring it to life for a new generation of not-just-Peranakans, but artists, craftsmen, and future collaborators, locally and globally. Just as the Peranakans themselves were inspired by east and west and everything in between, we want their multicultural legacy to inspire a future more beautiful.”
“In Malay, the word ‘Peranakan’ has ‘child’ at its root, and means ‘locally-born’ or ‘of the same womb’”, said Kennie Ting, Director of Peranakan Museum
“It was a welcoming and inclusive sort of word, used by Malay-Indonesian communities in Southeast Asia to refer to all other communities who had made a home here, and blended the rich local culture with their own proud heritage.
With the movement of people globally today, are we able to use the term Peranakan in the same way that older Malay communities did? To embody that ethos and language of inclusivity? To say that we are from the same womb and we welcome you? We are all, in some ways, updated Peranakans, so to speak.”