Cover Stories

Published on 26 July 2017

Photo: Binary Style

Twins Santhi and Sari Tunas — collectively known as Binary Style — put Singapore stories on scarves.

By Pamela Ho

“Scarves are a bit of an obsession with us. Whenever we travel, we always buy scarves home as souvenirs,” says Sari Tunas, who co-founded Binary Style — a local company that designs scarves inspired by Singapore stories — with her twin sister, Santhi.

Originally from Indonesia, the sisters — who are both trained architects (they hold master’s degrees from Belgium) — lived in Europe before settling in Singapore. “Before I arrived here 16 years ago, I thought Singapore was very sterile,” admits Santhi. “But I was so wrong! I realise that at every turn, you’ll find a story to tell.”

Sari, who joined her six years ago, adds, “I don’t have a car, so I travel everywhere on the bus or MRT. When you walk, you experience the city in a different way. We explore neighbourhoods and hiking trails on weekends, and have discovered many hidden stories, like Bob the cat, and the old uncle with a push-cart selling satay in Tiong Bahru. They’re featured in our scarves!”

Growing up, the twins shared a love for art. “We’d scribble everywhere — even on our bedroom walls — which got us into trouble!” discloses Santhi. “But our father used to draw and paint too. He was a military man and didn’t pursue art as a career, but I remember an amazing charcoal sketch he did of Elizabeth Taylor.”

In fact, the twins considered pursuing fine arts after high school, but their parents dissuaded them. “They feared we couldn’t make a living as artists, so architecture was kind of a compromise,” Santhi explains. “In architecture school, we were trained to sketch and to pay attention to proportion, textures and composition of colours.”

While they’ve always talked about doing something together, it was only in 2015 that things fell into place. Sari, who was in-between jobs, mooted the idea of creating ‘scarves with a story’. When Santhi jumped in with her marketing smarts, Binary Style took off. They’ve since created over 30 Singapore-inspired designs, covering old-school games to Singapore’s flora and fauna.

While Sari’s designs capture details, Santhi’s are more abstract and playful. “When we give each other feedback, we don’t mince our words!” reveals Santhi, to which Sari adds, “But we don’t get offended. At the end of the day, it’s nothing we cannot solve.”

This National Day, Binary Style has created an exclusive collection inspired by our museums, heritage institutions and artefacts. “It’s like an extension of your museum visit. Whatever you’ve seen and experienced, you can take home when you buy a scarf,” says Sari. All eight designs are available at the National Heritage Board’s Museum Label shops from 1 August.

To find out more, visit www.binarystyle.wordpress.com

Photo: Binary Style
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