Two Singapore-based creative couples have conceived new ways of making, living, and loving

Two Singapore-based creative couples have conceived new ways of making, living, and loving

Modern love

Editor: Aravin Sandran

While some people are flat out against mixing business with pleasure, a select few seem to thrive off it. Starting and sustaining your own enterprise can be tough, so it would only make sense to partner with a close friend. However, do things get far more complicated when a romantic partner gets involved? As Valentine's Day approaches this Friday, we asked two Singapore-based creative couples how they've stayed the course.

Two Singapore-based creative couples have conceived new ways of making, living, and loving (фото 1)

Fahmy Ishak & Erliana Kamiti, co-founders of FIN Crafted Goods Co.

How did both of you meet?
Fahmy: I saw her at The Wallet Shop at Suntec City. My staff saw her and encouraged me to talk to her.
Erliana: One of his staff came over and said, "My boss thinks you're cute." It happened in 2004. I was 23 and he was 28 years old.

When did you know you could work together?
Erliana: We didn't. He had been working on FIN Crafted Goods since 2012, and I was helping him part-time on weekends. Early last year, I decided that he needed help, so I left my job to join him.
Fahmy: The business needed to grow and I needed staff, so I brought her in.

What has been your favourite project to work on together, and how would you describe that experience?
Erliana: It would have to be SALVAGED, which was the fashion show that we did at Kilo Lounge. There were many moments when we asked ourselves why we were doing it, but it was a good experience. We've never done something like that before.
Fahmy: It was blood-letting, but we are hoping to do it again.

What do you think about each other's working styles?
Erliana: We work in completely different ways, but we complement each other. He's all over the place while I'm structured and organised. You can tell where he works in the workshop. It will be very messy with piles of stuff.
Fahmy: I like chaos.

What is the best thing about each other?
Fahmy: If I don't have her, I can't do so many things. She's my rock. Without her, it will be quite meaningless to do this business.
Erliana: The best thing about him is that he is interested in everything. It can be irritating, but I can ask him about anything under the sun and he probably knows about it and has something to say. He is incredibly curious.

What is the worst thing about each other? 
Erliana: The worst thing about Fahmy is that he has a lot of fire. Sometimes, it is impossible to control him, but it feeds the business. He can be in-your-face and it can be quite hard for some people. 
Fahmy: She is a detail-oriented person, but I don't like to know the details. I just want it done. It's not a bad attribute; it's just that I'm incapable of hearing and being burdened by the information.

Do you discuss work outside of the office?
Fahmy: I always talk about work, whether it's before I sleep or when I wake up. I'll even wake her up. This is our business. If we don't talk about it, why bother? We aren't working for someone; we are working for ourselves.
Erliana: He discusses work outside of the office, but I rather not. I need to have my downtime when I can let my mind relax. Sometimes when he starts talking about an idea, I have no input. I need to mull over it.

How does your future look like together and what are you most excited about?
Erliana: We hope to have FIN around, but it might have evolved into something else other than clothes. 
Fahmy: There are many things she can offer. Besides FIN, she is an accomplished cook and baker. She also has professional masseuse certifications. By that virtue, she is an amazing woman.

Largely influenced by Japanese aesthetics and values, FIN Crafted Goods Co. specialises in boro, an ancient method of mending and repairing old or torn garments to prolong its use.

Two Singapore-based creative couples have conceived new ways of making, living, and loving (фото 2)

Ivanho Harlim & Shysilia Novita, photographers

How did you meet?
Shysilia: We met 10 or 11 years ago. I used to work in advertising and he was a photographer. I asked him to quote for one of my projects. After two years of seeing each other, I moved to Singapore.
Ivanho: It was in my early years when I first started out. I was pitching for work in Jakarta, and she was working at a subsidiary agency under Ogilvy. She asked me for a quote, but the job didn't happen. After her agency was bought over, we decided to work together.

How did you know that you could work with each other?
Shysilia: I didn't know, actually. I liked his work, but I didn't know we could create together.
Ivanho: When we first started out, she did the digital retouching. At first, there wasn't much conflict because our duties were quite separate. Since we saw each other everyday, it got intertwined. Naturally, as the business and the jobs got bigger, more serious and demanding, the arguments became bigger and more serious as well. We learnt how to figure things out eventually.

What is the best thing about each other?
Ivanho: She is more grounded while I tend to be more impulsive.
Shysilia: He can be patient.

What is the worst thing about each other?
Shysilia: It's when he gets angry. He's quite short-tempered.
Ivanho: In the past, I wished that she was neater. I'm not, so when we were both messy, it was chaotic at times.

What has been your favourite project that you've worked on together?
Shysilia: It would have to be the editorial shoots that we do. Creatively, we draw ideas from each other. When we get opportunities to travel together for projects, I enjoy the location scouting process. It's a fulfilling experience. One memorable trip was when we went to Melbourne, which was part of our on-going contribution to ICON magazine.
Ivanho: We enjoy the freedom of the process.

ICON Singapore, photographed by Ivanho Harlim and Shysilia Novita, styled by Marie Liang, model Lucinda E, shot on-location in Melbourne, Australia, 2015

What makes your creative relationship unique?
Shysilia: We have similar tastes in movies, clothes, and music. For music, we listen to Soundgarden, M.I.A., and The Kills. I wear his clothes sometimes as well.
Ivanho: We share the same creative sensibility. Both of us don't like it when there's a polished veneer to an image. We veer towards things that are a little bit more subversive.

When did you decide to include both of your names in the photography credit?
Ivanho: In Singapore, it's hard to pull together a team to do a shoot over two or three days. Early on, she took up a course to help with the retouching. When the credits came, it was a bit fussy to have the names repeated across different categories. I decided to simplify it and put everything under photography because, in essence, I believe it is an integral part of image-making. In terms of the photographic gaze, since I'm the dominant one, naturally one would expect the photographs to be taken with a male gaze. Over time, with Shysilia having more input in the development of the concept and my studio manager Marie having a say in the clothes, it has become a shared and hybrid gaze.

Ivanho Harlim and Shysilia Novita are a locally-renowned fashion photographic duo who have worked with numerous publications and clients.