Hans Tan is a designer and an educator based in Singapore. His work tiptoes on the boundaries between design, craft, and art. He believes that design not only helps us “do”, but it 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 contexts of heritage, consumption, and waste.
In 2009, Hans was spotted by Designnet Magazine South Korea as one of 36 Young Asian Designers and was also the winner of the Martell Rising Personalities Award 2009. He was awarded with the distinction of “Les Découvertes” (best innovative product) at the fall edition of Maison&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 honored with the Designer of the Year at the President's Design Award 2017/18 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 including the National Collection of Singapore, M+ Museum, Hong Kong, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, and the National Museum of Ceramics Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
Hans has also actively engaged in curatorial work and has produced several exhibitions with a keen interest in the discursive capacity of design to engage public perceptions. He is an associate professor at the Division of Industrial Design, National University of Singapore, where he has received multiple teaching awards. His penchant for design pedagogy is guided by the concept of deformative inquiry. He has developed imaginative thinking tools that provide novel approaches to the design process based on generative deformations, use of language, and systematic reflection. He was placed on the honor roll in 2018 for being a three-time winner of the NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award and received the Outstanding Educator Award in 2019.