Singapore arts-design collective PHUNK on its 25-year success | The A List
For most people, control and chaos are worlds apart, by definition or design. But for homegrown art and design collective PHUNK, which has collaborated with the likes of MTV and Levi’s, control-chaos is the essence of their creative philosophy. Aptly, they have named their 25th anniversary at the National Design Centre Control Chaos.
The collective comprises Alvin Tan, Jackson Tan, William Chan and Melvin Chee (the latter has been on hiatus since 2016). PHUNK was formed when the four budding designers crossed paths at LASALLE, having recognised interests such as music, skateboarding and their love for fast food in one another. From illustrative brand campaigns for MTV and Coca-Cola to fine art such as the iconic water droplet sculptures adorning Promenade MRT station, PHUNK has done it all.
“When PHUNK started, we were four teenagers using a Mac computer to express ourselves,” Jackson reminisced. “We just wanted to have fun together and do what we thought was cool at that point in time such as printing our own tee-shirts or creating visual designs.”
The creative chaos that birthed their formation meant there were a lot of things for the collective to iron out, says Chan. “But since we are professionally trained designers, there is some degree of organisation to the chaos.”
Their exhibition at the National Design Centre turns their creative philosophy into an intimate physical experience. Visitors must make their way through a maze of graphic prints created by PHUNK over 25 years. The prints have been carefully torn and tagged with stickers, further expression their creative philosophy of control and chaos as a collective. Aptly found in the middle of the bedlam is Control Chaos, the title of their most famous work dating back to 2003.
Alvin added: “Everything was planned, right down to the chaotic bits. There was a specific grid that we had to follow for every tear and sticker tagged onto the walls.”
Not only are visitors invited into PHUNK’s world of controlled chaos, they are also welcome to participate in it by drawing on the exterior chalk walls of the exhibition. “The walls were clean and tidy when we first opened the show, but we let chaos take over that control. We placed chalk all around and people started drawing on the walls,” says Alvin.
This energy of controlled chaos has fuelled PHUNK through 25 years and it is “definitely something we hope to carry forward into the future,” says Alvin.
Details about Control Chaos: 25 Years of PHUNK Exhibition here.