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Celebrating Local! A National Day Special by Aun Koh

This Saturday, we celebrate our nation's 49th birthday! What better time to celebrate all things local and all homegrown makers? (:

We have invited three individuals from different walks of life to select their favourite locally made or designed items, and share with you what this country means to them.

Meet Aun Koh, the face behind Chubby Hubby - one of the world's premier food and travel blogs since 2005. Aun began his career as a journalist and photographer, and now runs a creative lifestyle services group Ate. A seasoned traveller because of his work, Aun shares a little about what he loves about Singapore in the interview below. Hop on over here to check out his top picks.

1. Tell us more about yourself and what you do please?

I started my career as a photographer and journalist. I've been fortunate enough to have worked in the USA, Hong Kong and Singapore, covering a wide range of interests, from politics to luxury brands. I spent a few years working to promote the visual arts and literary scene here in Singapore, and in 2006, with my wife, set up The Ate Group, an integrated communications agency specialising in lifestyle. Last June, I took a break to help a friend in the not-for-profit space; I've been running 4 teams at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. Professionally, I'm actually just about to start something new. Lastly, in my free time, since 2005, I've been running the Chubby Hubby food and travel website, which had been great fun.

2. You've travelled around the globe. But, what attracts you most to this country?

First and foremost, my family and friends. That's what keeps me here more than anything else. That said, the last decade in Singapore has been enormously exciting. We've seen a flourish of new creative energy and thought leadership across a range of sectors which has transformed our country and had added a new dimension to the social circles within which I engage.

3. Three things you like, remember most, or will miss most about Singapore?

Again, family and friends. Secondly, the food. Thirdly, the security and safety that most citizens can feel and what enjoy, which a lot of us take for granted but is really quite unique. Definitely not the heat.

4. Thank you for curating this collection. How is design relevant to you / in your daily life?

Very. Both my wife and I are obsessed with good design. We make a lot of our purchasing decisions based on aesthetics and feel, rightly or wrongly, that we have a good sense of what makes for a great or smartly designed product.

Taking the definition of design a little further, I apply design strategy to a lot of the things I do at work. The services, programs, products, and campaigns I help create and manage need to have real relevant and inspired design methodologies behind them.

5. Top pick from this collection, and why?

The Happy Rabbit Coffee Cup Set. For two reasons. First, it is a great and humorous homage to a part of our culture that every Singaporean can recognise and identify with. Secondly, I worked with the artist Jahan, who created this, at the start of his career and I'm so happy to see how far he's come and how successful he's become.

6. Lastly, if someone from home asks you about Singapore, how would you describe this country or its people?

Five years ago, I would have said we are a mixed group of immigrants from all over the world--Chinese, Malay, Indian, European, Arab, etc--that somehow manage to live peacefully together, respecting and subsuming at times each others' cultures. Today, however, I don't know if I can still say this.

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