One of the myths we remember being told as children was that if a moth flew into the house, it represented the soul of a recently deceased kin — visiting the family before passing on into the afterlife. Perhaps such a belief is the reason why moths possess such an inauspicious reputation, bearing an association with death and decay. As we read more about the perception of this insect, we began to realise how misunderstood they are. In actual fact, they're really harmless light seekers. With this newfound understanding, our design concept was based off 'looking beyond the surface', and we decided to call our brand Cahaya, which means 'light' in Malay.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
The main focus for us was embroidery, showcased on collars, capelets and sheer, sleeveless tops, inspired by the silhouette of the Lyssa zampa — a giant moth that appears in Singapore seasonally. Initially, we sought to collaborate with embroidery artisans and also considered using an embroidery machine. However, we realised that we would only be able to fully express our creative concept — which was to convey the fragility of the moth — by executing it with our own hands.
MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTION
Our products were painstakingly pieced together by a variety of hand embroidery techniques. We used the Bullion Knot as its form reminded us of moth larvae; the reverse side of satin stitches to achieve a raw, imperfect finish; and felting, to mimic the 'furry' texture of a moth's body. We added sporadic pops of colours amongst earthy tones, signifying the often overlooked beauty of the insect. The use of 'moth-eaten' holes and raw edges in our pieces were a deliberate commentary, challenging conventional notions of beauty.
COMMUNICATING OUR MESSAGE
We used motion graphics to communicate the processes and techniques employed in the creation of our products. Every piece we've crafted is unique; and that, we believe, is the true expression of new luxury.
Watch the video above.
WHAT WE'VE LEARNT
We started the project being inspired by various embroidery artists including LASALLE alumni Teresa Lim. Through this project, we have grown immensely in our ability to work collectively as a team and in our confidence as artists in our own right.
LASALLE College of the Arts: Behind-the-scenes of the design exhibition, Myths and Beliefs — Part 1
Learn more about Cahaya at Myths and Beliefs, an extended exhibition by LASALLE College of the Arts. It is a part of the Gallery Light to Night Festival held at the National Gallery Singapore, Former Supreme Court Foyer, L2, from 25 November to 4 December.