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The New Forward Celebrates Homegrown Designers within Southeast Asia

The New Forward is the brainchild of Keat and Aizyl, both of whom are passionate about helping designers within the Southeast Asian region gain more exposure about their art. A Malaysian-based online magazine where tech, design and indie business meet, The New Forward shares frequent updates and stories of those who create, make, and innovate.

Hence, to celebrate the biculturalism that most of us are fondly familiar with, we invited Keat and Aizyl to curate a collection for us, with designs that espouse the cultural similarities of Malaysia and Singapore. Enjoy browsing through the products that the duo have thoughtfully selected here, and read on to find out more about them and what they do! 


1. Tell us more about The New Forward and how it started?

Keat: We have been through quite an evolution since we started in September. Back then, we both started on different things – Aizyl was keen on creating a website on startups and entrepreneurs while I, inspired by him, launched a design blog soon after. Then we realized we could combine that together and decided to take a wild jump in creating The New Forward, literally overnight. Since then, we’ve been sharing the creative works from around the region and slowly became what we are now, a good resource for people to discover the talents around us.

2. The most memorable interview or article you've written is...?

Aizyl: For me it definitely has to be the interview with EPIC Collaborative. I was left in awe when the founder, John-Son Oei explained to me how they had designed a modular concept to build homes for the Orang Asli (aboriginal people of Malaysia) living in forest areas. Making it modular meant the builds were scalable and also adaptable to different terrains, resulting in quicker, more cost effective help to those who need it. Mind = BLOWN.

Keat: My background is actually in design, so everytime it’s a learning experience with words and I do my best to write. The best articles so far are the ones I really felt connected to and when my words spoke honestly, doing justice to their art. The memorable ones were for JW Lee and Lee Xin Li. Watching the kueh story get shared around was a very memorable experience.

3. You get inspired when / by...?

Aizyl: As a writer for The New Forward, much of my inspiration comes from other people’s passions. It’s always easy to see the amount of love that goes into a certain artwork, design, or even business. As much as ingenuity can drive something to be popular, I find myself moved by love and passion for a craft more than anything else. And I find myself making a conscious effort to make their stories known. For example, a little coffee shop we discovered called Seraph Awaken.

Keat: I get inspired at quiet times such as a silent drive or while doing yoga practices. Meeting new people and learning about their stories is also very interesting.

4. Describe an average day at The New Forward, and how is design relevant?

Keat: We share a post every weekday, so we usually spend the morning writing. On certain days we would meet up to discuss ideas over a lunch or drink since we’re living within walking distance of each other. Working on The New Forward, I began realizing that design is beyond just eye candy and designs that serve a function well, is better.

Aizyl: Yeah, people don’t really think about design in aspects other than just the visual aesthetics of ink on paper (or pixels on a screen). Optimising efficiency is a form of design. Solving problems is basically designing a solution. So when you really think about it, design is in everything we do.

5. Top three picks from the collection?

High Voltage Tee, Kueh Tutu Eraser, and Kueh Compendium.

6. Plans for The New Forward in the year ahead?

Aizyl: We’re still relatively new as a website, so we still have a lot of room for experimentation. We’ve got a lot in the works for expansion content-wise, but what I’m most excited to venture in are offline meetups for creatives to share and collaborate.

Keat: Yes, we have so many ideas to expand upon and we want to bring creators together for real, not just the web! Only thing is we have limited manpower and finances, so those are our priorities for this year.

7. If you could have one wish for anything at all, what would it be?

Aizyl: I’d wish for a thicker beard.

Keat: I’d wish for Aizyl to lose his Beatles mop.

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