Hans Tan is a designer, curator and educator based in Singapore.
Tiptoeing on the boundaries of design, craft and art, Hans believes that design not only helps us “do”, design also helps us “understand” – his practice deploys design as a medium, making use of utility as a pretext for visual discourse, while maintaining a keen focus in developing materials and processes. The embedded narratives in his works comment on design and its industry as a phenomenon, especially in the context of heritage, consumption and waste.
In 2009, Hans was spotted by Designnet magazine Korea as one of 36 Young Asian Designers, and was a winner of the Martell Rising Personalities Award 2009 which honours individuals from different creative fields who are passionately driven to push beyond the boundaries of success. He was awarded with the distinction of “Les Découvertes” (best innovative product) at the fall edition of Maison et Objet 2012 in Paris, and he is a two-time winner of Design of the Year at the President's Design Award, Singapore's highest design accolade. In 2018, Hans was honoured with the Designer of the Year at the President's Design Award 2017/18, Singapore’s highest recognition for a designer, for the impact of his body of work and his contributions to the design community through education.
Hans’ works have been shown in exhibitions such as “Singletown” at the Venice Biennale, “Surface art/design” in Dortmund and Cologne, “No Boundaries” at ArtStage Singapore, and “Beauty” at the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, Smithsonian Design Museum New York, “Shifting Objectives” at M+ Museum, Hong Kong, and “Local Icons East/West” at MAXXI Museo, Rome.
His works are held in private and corporate collections, as well as public permanent collections at the National Collection of Singapore; M+ Museum for Visual Culture, Hong Kong; the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York; and the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
Hans has also actively engaged in curatorial work, and has curated and produced exhibitions with a keen interest in the discursive capacity of design to engage public perceptions. He founded projects such as R for Repair and the National Vending Gallery, and has worked with clients such as Changi Airport Group and Nirvana Memorial.
These projects can be self-initiated or commissioned, employing design as a creative catalyst to address cultural and societal challenges or to turn up difficult topics. Unlike historical or survey exhibitions, these projects are shaped to generate new design propositions. The presentation of these strategic possibilities challenge preconceptions and tickle our imagination.
Hans is an Associate Professor at the Division of Industrial Design, National University of Singapore. Having served in the capacity of program director and deputy head, he has spearheaded several curriculum reforms, most recently leading the program structure changes in 2021 with the setting up of the College of Design and Engineering. He also established the university's Design Thinking module that serves more than 3600 students every year.
His penchant for design pedagogy is guided by the concept of “deformative inquiry” developed from his personal practice. It emphasises on "deforming" as a starting point for imaginative thinking, exercised at the intersection of thought exploration and hands-on experimentation. Hans has received multiple teaching awards. He was placed on the honour roll in 2018 for being a three time winner of the NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award, and in 2019 received the Outstanding Educator Award, the university's highest award for teaching.
2021.12 The Waste Refinery, National Design Centre, Singapore
2021.06 NEOOOLD, Shanghai
2019.11 “Singapo人” Permanent exhibition, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
2019.10 Cheongju Craft Bienale ASEAN Pavilion, Cheongju
2019.10 ASEAN Crafts: From Heritage to the Contemporary, ASEAN Culture House, Busan
2019.10 DesignArt Tokyo X Design Pier, Design & Art Festival 2019, Tokyo
2019.03 Wallpaper Handmade Passion Projects, National Museum of Singapore
2019/04 Wallpaper Handmade X: With Love, Salone dei Tessuti, Milan
2018.06 In Search of Southeast Asia through the M+ Collections, Hong Kong.
2018.06 Made in Holland 400 jaar wereldmerk, Netherlands.
2018.01 The Artling Collectible Design Showcase, Singapore.
2017.10 ITB Asia, Singapore Tourism Board, Marina Bay Sands.
2017.10 Peranakan Gallery, Peranakan Museum, Changi Airport T4.
2017.09 Porcelain and Craft Festival, Supermama, Gillman Barracks.
2017.06 ACM SIGCHI Creativity and Cognition Exhibition, Singapore.
2017.05 SCCC “Creativity in Pulses” Exhibition, Singapore.
2017.03 The Alchemist, Singaplural.
2017.03 Tomorrow: Design Sories of our Future, Singaplural.
2016.12 Shifting Objectives, M+ Museum, Hong Kong.
2016.10 Beauty, San Jose Museum or Art , San Jose.
2016.09 Porcelain Festival, Supermama @ Gillman Barracks, Singapore.
2016.07 (untitled), Collision8, Singapore.
2016.03 PDA 2006-2015: A Decade of Design Excellence, Singapre.
2016.02 Beauty, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York.
2016.02 Local Icons East/West. MAXXI Museo, Rome.
2016.01 The Alchemist, Singapore Art Museum.
2015.07 Singapore Souvenirs 2015, National Design Centre.
2015.04 The Alchemist, Milan Design Week.
2015.05 Rising Asian Stars, Creative Taiwan Expo.
2015.04 Bank of Kinectic, Singapore Inside Out, Beijing, London, New York.
2014.11 “Go MAD”, Mad Museum of Art & Design, Singapore.
2014.09 Asia Talents 10 Eco Designers 2014, Bangkok.
2014.12 Industy+, Singapore Design Centre.
2013.03 Bench, Dhoby Ghaut Green (Singaplural) and URA Centre, Singapore.
2013.01 Closure, Block 8 Teban Gardens, Singapore.
2012.11 Creative Cultures: The Singapore Showcase, DesignTide Tokyo.
2012.10 100% Design Singapore.
2012.03 30 Chairs Lifestories, Singaplural Design Week, Singapore.
2011.09 Maison&Objet, fall edition, Paris.
2011.05 INTER_PLAY, ChanHampe Galleries, Singapore.
2011.01 No Boundaries, ArtStage, Singapore 2010.
2010.12 Focus on Singapore, M.U.H. Gallery, LINEART Art Fair, Ghent.
2010.07 Help Save Paper, Iluma Singapore / Airport Tempelhof Berlin.
2010.08 Rest & Relax, Singapore Changi Airport.
2009.11 V for Vase, Singapore Design Festival 2009.
2009.11 Singapore Souvenirs, Singapore Design Festival 2009.
2009.11 Useless Gallery Exhibition, Singapore Design Festival 2009.
2009.09 ’t BUURTHUIS, KOP, Breda.
2009.07 On Arrangement, The Substation Gallery, Singapore.
2009.02 SURFACE art/design, WestfalenForum, Dortmund.
2009.01 SURFACE art/design, Rheintriadem, Köln.
2008.10 SINGLETOWN, 11th Architectural Biennale, Venice.
2008.10 STILL - Design Academy Eindhoven, Design September, Brussels.
2008.04 STILL - Design Academy Eindhoven, Salone del Mobile 2008, Milan.
2007.11 Hark! Singapore Design Festival 2007.
2007.07 Master Pieces 2007, Droog Gallery, Amsterdam.
2006.10 Lingering Artefacts, Dutch Design Week 2006, Eindhoven.
2006.03 Hatch, Milan Salone Satellite 2006, Milan.
2005.04 Furniture Design Award 2005 Finalists Showcase, Singapore Esplanade.
2005.03 Singapore Evening (work featured in multimedia presentation), London.
2005.03 International Furniture Fair Singapore 2005, Singapore Expo.
2004.10 Tokyo Designers Block 2004, Japan.