Designer Spotlight - Nonamu
Founded by multi-award winning Malaysian industrial designer, Ai Pheng Yeap, Nonamu is the ultimate fusion between the East and the West. Having lived abroad for over a decade, she has learned to appreciate the culture and heritage she grew up in in Malaysia, especially the century old Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) heritage.
She takes the vibrant colours and intricate designs of her surroundings and puts them into her silk scarves. The aim of Nonamu is to ensure Baba Nyonya’s preservation, to give it a new energy. She fuses the old and the new together, creating an exotic cocktail of colour and beauty.
Learn more about Ai Peng Yeap and the Baba Nyonya heritage through this exclusive interview with us.
Curated Crowd: Nonamu is a fusion between the traditional and the modern, what inspired you to combine the two?
Ai Pheng: The concept already has tradition and culture behind it, therefore, to appeal to the modern audience, it needs to fit into the current style, at the same time being a timeless piece. I always vet the final designs by asking one question – will I wear them myself? It’s a winner if the answer is yes.
CC: The brand is inspired by the heritage of Baba Nyonya, can you tell us a little bit more about it?
AP: Baba Nyonya is also known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese heritage.
CC: Why is it so crucial that you preserve this culture through your designs?
AP: This culture is something I feel needs preserving, as it is such a unique culture that is slowly fading away. I have been living away from home for over 10 years and it has made me realise and appreciate the importance of my culture and heritage. That has given me the desire to keep the heritage alive and to share the story with everyone. In doing so, I began to learn more in depthly about it too.
CC: You also won the Red Dot Design Award previously. How did that make you feel and has it made you more confident in terms of stepping out of your comfort zone when designing?
AP: The Red Dot Design Award was a great recognition of my design abilities. Knowing that my designs are up there with all other great designers does give me confidence in future ideas.
CC: Why have you decided to place the designs on silk scarves instead of clothes?
AP: I’m an industrial designer by trade and to have a brand of my own has always been a life goal of mine, though I’ve never defined what sort of brand or products they would be.
The first time I've ever encountered silk scarves was when I picked out a batik silk scarf from my mum’s wardrobe. They were so soft and beautiful. I wrapped it around myself, letting the material caress my skin. It still has a lasting memory. That was also when I stood in front of the mirror styling it in so many different ways, I couldn’t believe how much a small fabric was capable of doing.
Silk scarves are very versatile fashion accessories that will never go out of fashion. It gives a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to an outfit. Designing print for silk scarves are very different from designing print for clothes. I would like to branch out in the future and head towards a lifestyle direction rather than a fashion brand.
Curated Crowd styling with the Herringbone Lapis Silk Scarf
CC: Are you working on a new collection that we should know about?
AP: I’m working on expanding the Architecture Grandeur Collection and creating another that is based on childhood treats. I worked non-stop creating the designs but have currently stopped and took a step back for a moment to give it room and time to breath. It usually provides a different perspective, which I feel improves the end results.
CC: Are you planning on attending London Fashion Week with your brand this year?
AP: I will not be attending London Fashion Week with the brand this year, but I will be present at a Concept Store that is concurrent to LFW.