Twin sisters and architects by profession, Santhi and Sari are the designers behind Binary Style. Originally from Indonesia, the creative duo showcase a design philosophy that is of true Asian artisan value. Whimsical scarves with statement prints capture the heritage and stories of Singapore from botanical gardens to the diverse wildlife, cultural destinations and historical landmarks.
How did this magic idea of nature, art and fashion evolve? Did you both agree to this simultaneously?
Sari: We have always been interested in textile design but somehow both of us landed in architecture schools. We love architecture, but from time to time when we stumbled into great textile patterns and would momentarily indulge and think ‘we should do that one day’. Our mom was quite a fashionista when she was younger with a wardrobe of amazing patterns and colours. Browsing through her collections always give us pleasure and great escapism so we know patterns and colours can make people happy.
Walk us through the journey of a Binary Style scarf from the inspirational idea to the final product.
Sari: Originally trained as architects, we are naturally very detail oriented. Once we have an inspiration for a new design, we would immerse our selves into the theme. For example, we made several trips to Tiong Bahru neighbourhood looking for details that can be captured and would look nice on scarf. We also went in and out the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, investigating plant species and animals that could be found there. Binary Style scarf is scarf with a story, so we really want to capture the essence of a place to be able to create our narrative.
Santhi: One of us would think of a theme and would embark on a new design project. Once we got the first design draft, we would send the draft back and forth between ourselves for evaluation. We are both each other’s harshest critics. This design process would normally go as long as necessary, we have never rushed our designs. We would do countless revisions until we are really happy with the result before we send our designs to the atelier to produce prototypes. Only when we are really satisfied with it we will proceed with the big production. After that, we will go through a long process of quality control (which involves our mother) while thinking through the marketing strategy, before it ends up in the retailing end.
Little India is an atmospheric historical district in Singapore, expect no less then a plethora of colours, tantalising sights and enticing smells. This scarf design brings together the sights and scenes of this colourful district, capturing the flamboyance, ubiquitous objects and cultural symbolism of the district.
This scarf captures the happy side of rainy days: a sea of colourful umbrellas. The girls enjoy seeing a sea of umbrellas parading on Singapore’s busy thoroughfares and public spaces: Orchard Road, the riverside quays, Raffles Place, Chinatown. Though seemingly packed tight, there’s always room for one more.
The port is what made Singapore, Singapore. As the busiest shipping center in the region, it sees millions of shipping containers move places. Orderly stacks of colourful containers shape the daily scenery of the port, moved about in a bustling but carefully choreographed dance.
How do each of your personalities (be it similar or different) translate into the DNA and persona of Binary Styles?
Santhi: We grew up together, and we thought we knew each other inside out. However doing a business together, unleash hidden sides. We got to know each other all over again. We found out that I have more flair for marketing and naturally rise to the occasion to steer Binary Style business strategy and public relations campaign. Between us two, we discovered that Sari is always one step ahead in the game when it comes to design. She is also a design perfectionist who would eyeball every single lines and dots. Fortunately for us, all these differences work complimentarily, unified by our love of crazy colours and funky designs.
Are you looking at international stockists?
Santhi: In order to capture wider Asian market, we will have to explore the region more to be able offer something that is meaningful to people in the region. Binary Style is about celebrating stories on scarves. People are drawn to our scarves because of the stories that we offer. They like it because the stories resonate with them. Asia is a wonderful source of inspirations and we cannot wait to explore them. Right now apart from Singapore stories, we have started to dabble on Indonesian and Malaysian (Borneo) stories.