MINI Extraoddinary: An eco-cultural trail in Chinatown explores sustainability in Singapore through wearable pineapple and edible plastic
Automobile brand MINI Singapore first introduced their highly successful urban trail initiative MINI Extraoddinary in 2018, taking over the neighbourhoods of Katong and Joo Chiat with Instagram-worthy art installations by local creatives.
In November, its second installment will descend on the cultural precinct of Chinatown to explore sustainability through intelligent and engaging installations that hint at some of the change-making trends and innovations within the field.
Sustainability might have been on everyone's lips this year, but it's certainly not new to MINI. "After all, the first Mini was conceived in response to a fuel shortage during the Suez Crisis. With this year's MINI EXTRAODDINARY, we hope to shine the light on a more sustainable path moving forward", explained Kidd Yam, head of MINI Asia.
Visitors can look forward to 16 stations on the eco-cultural trail that feature fascinating developments such as wearable pineapple, mushroom building blocks, vegan bak kwa, edible plastic alternatives, and sewage-processed Chinese ink.
While most of the stations are free and easy for visitors to explore on their own leisurely time, six of the them have dedicated tastings, workshops, and demos to encourage further engagement.
Verte Couture Workshop
Venue: Verte Couture, People's Park Food Centre Level 3
Dates & Times: 4pm to 4:30pm on Friday, and 12pm to 12:30pm and 2pm to 2:30pm on Saturday and Sunday
About: Dye houses around Asia are infamous for turning local streams and rivers red and blue when they dump untreated waste water. In this hands-on workshop with Arane, you'll get to learn about natural alternatives that have less impact on our environment by dyeing and printing fabrics using a variety of plants and leaves.
Venue: Cha, Cha, Cha, along Smith Street
Dates & Times: 10:45am to 11:45am, 12:45pm to 1:45pm, 2:45pm to 3:45pm, and 4:45pm to 5:45pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
About: From reducing cholesterol to improving immunity, the benefits of Chinese tea are known to be numerous. Take it up a notch mid-trail by enjoying a cup of Craft & Culture kombucha concocted from Tie Guan Yin or Xiang Pian at this pop-up tea kiosk. For the uninitiated, kombucha is a tea-based fermented drink that's rich in probiotics.
Bak Kwa Tasting
Venue: Meatless Packing District, along Smith Street
Dates & Times: 11am to 12pm, 1pm to 2pm, 3pm to 4pm, 5pm to 6pm
About: Chinese New Year is only a few months away now, but could you imagine serving vegan bak kwa at your family gatherings? Brawn & Brain's recipe might just change your mind. The importance of introducing more vegetarian options into our diet has become more pressing as livestock takes up a huge proportion of farmland and contributes immensely to the production of greenhouse emissions today.
Edible Plastic Demo
Venue: Soup for the Eco-Soul, along Temple Street
Dates & Times: 11:20am to 11:50am, 1:20pm to 1:50pm, 3:20pm to 3:50pm, and 5:20pm to 5:50pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
About: Single-use plastic packaging has become notorious for polluting the world's precious waterways and oceans. Case in point, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is three times the size of France today. In response, Evoware has developed a seaweed-based alternative that can dissolve in water, or be eaten together with the food it wraps.
Sewage Ink Demo
Venue: Rewriting Our Fate, along Temple Street
Dates & Times: 11:30am to 12:30pm, 1:30pm to 2:30pm, 3:30pm to 4:30pm, and 5:30pm to 6:30pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
About: Masters from Nanyang Calligraphy Centre pen auspicious wishes for the Earth using Sum Waste ink that's processed from sewage.
Algae Cookie Tasting
Venue: Fortune in a Cookie, along Temple Street
Dates & Times: 11:45am to 12:45pm, 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3:45pm to 4:45pm, and 6pm to 7pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
About: Spirulina has earned the reputation as a superfood in recent years with its nutrient-dense properties. Taste the future at this cookie station.
We caught up with MINI and their creative agency Kinetic Singapore to find out more about the eco-cultural trail.
This is the second edition of MINI Extraoddinary. The first one took place in Katong last year. What were some of the key takeaways from the first edition?
MINI has always been more than just about cars. The EXTRAODDINARY trail is one way we’re reaching out to engage the community and support meaningful change. With last year’s trail, our focus was community building through the creative use of space; with a turnout that far exceeded our expectations, we learnt that there will always be an audience if what we champion is a cause close to people’s hearts.
MINI Extraoddinary will be taking over Chinatown this time. How did you go about picking the locations? Were there any particular spots or hidden gems within the neighbourhood that surprised you?
As you know, this year’s EXTRAODDINARY focusses on sustainability. While the environmental aspect is often talked about, we also want to broaden the conversation to include cultural sustainability. By setting the trail in Chinatown and incorporating a piece of Chinese culture in as many installations as we can, we hope to remind people about the importance of keeping our heritage alive. Along the trail, you will discover the likes of Chinese pavilions and traditional medical halls, but take the time to explore and we’re sure Chinatown will have many more surprises up its sleeve.
Who are some of your creative collaborators? Are there any highlights in terms of mediums and concepts?
We had the pleasure of working with 13 collaborators for the installations, and these include local, regional as well as international brands. One of the most mind-blowing concepts is the edible plastic packaging created by Evoware; so is Mycotech’s mushroom building material, and the sewage ink by Sum Waste. A big shoutout to Robries Gallery too for how they turn plastic waste into beautiful homeware, giving trash new life and value. More information about all our collaborators can be found on miniextraoddinary.com.
Finally, what neighbourhood would you like MINI Extraoddinary to travel to next year?
Keeping this one a secret!