Jackets seem to be Yong’s thing at the moment; this blue one that he’s wearing today, in particular, has become quite a signature of his. Yong founded and currently heads a design studio and consultancy called Somewhere Else, and like its offbeat name, his style is equally unconventional, both when it comes to his dress sense and his personal influences. Yong’s something of a regular on Shentonista, and we speak to him to find out more about what he’s up to at the moment.
Q1. How do you try to personalise your outfit, or find some way of making it look different from the usual office crowd?
Sometimes it’s in the way items are paired, leading into the kind of statements I want to make, like am I a “postman” or am I a “serious-worker” that day? That kind of dictates the general direction. I don’t work in a corporate environment so there’s a lot of leeway as to what’s acceptable for work.
Q2. We think that little things can make or break an outfit. What do you personally look for when it comes to shoes and accessories?
I’ve been shopping for just blue items for awhile so I have an easier time matching clothes. I often buy pins and jackets at thrift stores that I use as a highlight to my otherwise plain outfits. Shoes-wise, I think it’s awkward to run into someone else wearing the exact same pair of shoes, so I try hard to avoid that predicament.
Q3. What are some of the items in your wardrobe or on your dresser that you can’t live without?
Crisp button-down shirts.
Q4. Do you believe in routine or spontaneity, both at work and off work? How so?
We sort of need both at work. I head a design studio and consultancy called Somewhere Else, and our work processes demand that we be rigorous and systematic, but often, to solve our clients’ briefs, we have to chase leads that appear out of thin air. Off work, I’m always at the same kopitiams and bars, but there’s always room for little moments of memorable surprises.
Q5. We often hear people say: don’t work hard, work smart. Have you found any way of working differently?
Sure, we probably would be more efficient if we used more productivity apps, but we’re still really traditional people at heart and I guess we’re suckers for a hard day’s work. For us, most often the thinking portion is hardest and it just takes a lot of pain to get to the design solution. I feel that meetings are still most effective in a formal setting; it frames the mind and there are lesser distractions. Sometimes I pace around the office just to have a pause. I’ve also tried napping but haven’t been able to fall asleep at work. So nope, I don’t have any revolutionary new way to work yet.
Q6. Could you tell us about what you’re working on right now, or a personal project that you would love to undertake?
We’re working on the rebrand of an ice cream chain which we’re really excited about. Closer to heart, we’re also rebranding a film archive. We’re glad we have the opportunity to work with clients that are almost polar opposites. We may be working on a small line of clothes with a friend of mine; we hope we’ll be able to show you guys something really soon!
Q7. What do you do when you’re simply having a terrible day at work? Or how do you personally cope/deal with stress from work?
I’m too lazy to get going on Yoga, or Soul Cycling or things like that. For me the most convenient outlet is to head straight to the bar to enjoy a couple of drinks — it slows things down and helps me to reflect on the day. Or, I’ll be watching films to fix my mind on other things. I do cycle with some friends about once a week, so I think I still have some semblance of a balanced way of life?
Q8. What’s the one thing you think you should be doing more of, or that you wish you had more time to be doing?
Hmm, sometimes, I look at things like Kinfolk and it makes me feel bad that I can’t afford to slow my life down; to quit having to work, to build a cottage in Lim Chu Kang and live off the land; you know, that kind of “quality of life”? The kind of pretty life where everything is beautiful, calm, nearly perfect and Instagram-able. But I’m guessing those images are probably sort of staged, cropped, and art-directed; that they probably leave out the nasty bits, keeping a construct that seems like a questionable portrayal of what life is about. So, I’m just thankful that I still have a job. I’m pretty much doing what I should be doing with my time. I care more about my work than is healthy but I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s always lots more I could want for but it’s okay, everything else is a bonus.
Q9. Who is your all-time favourite musician or band? Or the artist that you’re currently into at the moment?
There’s really too many to list; you can add me on Spotify (@Somewhrelse) to see for yourself! I’ve mainly been listening to instrumental music & jingly jangly bands like Pure X, Galaxie 500 and some Pleasantry. Robert Irwin is a big influence right now, amongst many other artists!
Q10. In light of the Dr. Martens #standforsomething campaign, what’s the one thing you stand for? What do you personally believe in, be it at work, or in life?
It’s a quote I found recently, and it sums up what Somewhere Else is really about or tries to be “Ever present, never twice the same; Ever changing, never less than whole” — Robert Irwin.
This is a Shentonista project for Dr. Martens Singapore.