National Environment Agency
Dedicated to rejuvenating the hawker culture in Singapore, National Environment Agency gave me the task to create a children's book, The Chemist, which was featured in Our Tampines Hub's Hawker Centre exhibition in 2017.
Hawker culture is the quintessential part of Singapore's heritage. Other than the multitude of food and drink stores, it functions as an important community space. These stores are run by the aging generation, and the younger and well-educated generation is not keen to take up the trade. They are choosing other jobs over the long hours and physical work as a hawker, which puts the hawker culture at risk of dying out.
The challenge for me was to create a children's book that is relatable and develops an appreciation for hawkers among the younger generation. Many young Singaporeans are overwhelmed by the societal pressure to do well academically and they find dreams unachievable when they do not conform to these expectations. So, I crafted a story about how unachievable dreams may seem impossible but they can be achieved in different ways.
To drive relatability and appreciation, the story uses the similarities of workflow between a chemist and a chef – the former experiments with chemicals while the latter experiments with food ingredients.