It was a year ago that Kiehl's recreated a New York City Subway station at ION Orchard—complete with musical performances too. The brand makes a return to the very same spot with another Subway-themed pop-up installation, but this time, as a driver to instil the importance of sustainability as well as to highlight its own efforts in the cause.
The Kiehl’s NYC Subway: Trash To Art installation provides visitors with the full-suite of experience one would expect of a typical Kiehl's pop-up. In addition to a range of activities dedicated to educating visitors on key skincare products as well as a personalised skin consultation, the pop-up highlights Kiehl's sustainability efforts which includes its refillable solutions in its skincare, hair and body categories. Like the name suggests, a number of art installations have been crafted from post-consumer materials—mainly Kielh's-related products, of course—such as the "Kiehl's Super Tree" and the "UFC Waterfall". The latter is positioned right above an empties drop-off point that encourages visitors to discard their empty and cleaned beauty empties. The goal is for Kiehl's to reach its target of collecting 60,000 empties for the month of September.
The brand has taken it a step further. A trio of Singaporean artists were commissioned to interpret trash into art that are now displayed as part of Kiehl’s NYC Subway: Trash To Art. In their own words, they share with us more about the process of recreating something out of trash as well as their thoughts on sustainability as part of artistic expressions.
The concept for the artwork was born from my fascination with discovering beauty in overlooked places. I became captivated by the idea of transforming everyday plastic bottles and containers, such as those from Kiehl's products, into a representation of the iconic Empire State Building, symbolising New York and embodying Kiehl's essence. As I worked on the project, it also made me think about how we often overlook the value of things we consider as waste. This led the artwork to take on a deeper meaning, becoming a statement about reusing and repurposing materials.
The primary challenge in creating this artwork was in the cleaning of the interior of the bottles, as there are often residues left. Additionally, sourcing suitable found wood and metals to complement the sculpture presented another hurdle. The journey encompassed everything from achieving cleanliness to meticulously selecting various types of plastic bottles/containers, ranging from Kiehl's products, to incorporate into the artwork. The diverse array of shapes, textures, and colours further contributed to the complexity of the task. Therefore, this creative endeavour wasn't a linear process, but rather one that opened up a multitude of possibilities demanding careful consideration and decision-making.
Seeing beauty in unexpected places is a big part of how I make art. I think there's something special in things that we usually don't notice. This way of thinking doesn't just apply to one artwork—it's in all my creations. I like to make art that surprises people, using different materials or showing things in new ways.
Every artist should think about using sustainable methods because of the current state of the world and environment. Artists possess a unique way of highlighting important issues in ways that make people think. When artists use sustainable methods to make art, they're showing that they care about the Earth. This can inspire others to do the same. It's like being part of a collective effort to stop problems like climate change and waste—even small changes can add up to a big positive impact.
One sustainable skincare hack that I highly recommend is opting for refillable products instead of purchasing new plastic bottles or containers. By opting to buy refills, you significantly decrease the amount of plastic waste generated. This small change not only reduces your environmental footprint but also encourages companies to offer more eco-friendly options.
I was inspired by the nickname of New York being "The Big Apple" which has become an iconic symbol of the city. I utilised old Keihl’s tubs to create "The Big Apple".
Planning the initial outline and working with Sketchup to design each layer of the apple structure were some of the challenges I faced while conceptualising "The Big Apple". I had to calculate the dimensions of each tub and how many would fit per layer in the structure.
I usually work with found materials or upcycle my previous materials into new works. Sustainability is a big factor in the repurposing of discarded materials, turning them into a language for my art practice.
I think that artists are self-aware and have a deep understanding of the way they engage with the environment and the world. Having respect for the way they treat materials and engage with them should be key components of their practice.
I like using water from rinsed rice as a toner for my skin.
My artwork is inspired by the main ingredient of the Calendula Toner, which is the calendula plant. Starting from the base: As a business owner of Chokmah, I do a lot of importing and therefore have accumulated pellets from shippings. The flowers on the base are from a previous Kiehl’s pop up. The stems are made from fabric rolls that were thrown away—I collected them from Chinatown. The strong base for the stem are made from my kid’s formula cans held by an eco-friendly material called jesmonite, a mixture of the remnants from the workshops that I run. The beautiful big petals are made from the offcuts of my photobooths decorations and dance costumes. The big calendula toner is from the decorations of a previous Kiehl’s pop up too—I asked if they had any past "trash" that they wanted to throw away that I could use to integrate into my installation.
One of the challenges I had was, because my installation was going to be a big artwork, worrying if I'd have enough trash to use to construct it. Thankfully, I have a community who believes in sustainability so when I requested for items to be used, there was no lack of it.
Art and education are equally important to me, therefore I believe in educating the community through my art in the hopes that they will be encouraged to also be sustainable in creating their own art.
I encourage every artist to have an element of sustainability in their art forms. But art is subjective; every artist has a different point of view and I respect that too.
Sustainability in skincare is so important to me that I would research on the ingredients used. That is why I love Kiehl’s skincare because the calendula flower petals are now sourced from a hydroponic farm. This system uses 96 per cent less water and 98 per cent less land than conventional farming, and allows the flowers to be harvested in two-month cycles versus the traditional eight-month cycle.
Interview answers have been edited for length and clarity.
The Kiehl’s NYC Subway: Trash To Art pop-up installation is now running until 13 September at B4 Atrium ION Orchard.
Ask any celebrity or beauty devotee to nominate their favourite skincare brand and chances are Augustinus Bader will be the first name that comes to mind. In just five years, the brand – created by globally renowned biomedical scientist and physician, Professor Bader – has won 105 coveted beauty awards for its smart skincare solutions that are backed by groundbreaking research, innovation, and science. In particular, the brand’s game-changing cream named The Body Cream is busy racking up awards for its clinically-proven results in combating the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks while providing deep hydration and nourishment to visibly improve the skin’s texture, tone, and elasticity.
Handcrafted in Professor Bader’s own laboratory, The Body Cream has found A-list fans including Kim Kardashian, Kate Hudson, Margot Robbie, Gigi Hadid, Victoria Beckham, and Jennifer Aniston who swear by it. The Body Cream has a luxurious rich, buttery texture and comes turbocharged with sustainably-sourced, high-potency botanicals, bio-engineered clean actives, and a multitasking moisture complex.
However, it’s Bader’s revolutionary patented TFC8® technology that sets The Body Cream apart from any other product on the market. Inspired by 30 years of cutting-edge science and research on skin healing and tissue repair, TFC8 is composed of natural amino acids, high-grade vitamins, and synthesised molecules that occur naturally in the body and work to guide key nutrients and natural ingredients directly into the skin’s cells to create an optimal environment for cellular renewal. Developed to train the skin by boosting its innate ability to renew itself over the long term, the next-level tech takes a personalised targeted approach to address specific concerns like the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, cellulite, stretchmarks, redness, hyperpigmentation and damage caused by external stressors.
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Having only one season to contend with here in Singapore, we should all have our grooming needs sorted by now. But the temperatures in mid-2023 are hitting unprecedented highs, ostensibly because of climate change, and it feels as if we are wilting in the cloying heat and humidity. Even some of our trusty products that have kept us in top form before seem to fall flat, which probably means it’s time to take our grooming game to task if we want to look fresh and feel clean through any single day. To that end, we leapt ahead and tried out some new skin and body care upgrades that we think would help you ride the heat wave.
Designed to filter out skin damaging UV rays, sunscreen remains the one product that dermatologists insist we do not ignore. Since no one said there should only be one product on our bathroom shelf, we're happy to go beyond the basic defensive action. Besides, according to a 2017 report by The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Study, SPF is “only partially effective in blocking free radicals produced by UV exposure.” Enter vitamin C serums.
The same study found that topical vitamin C provides support in protecting the skin against environmental aggressors, thanks to its antioxidant properties. Not only that, vitamin C in skincare also helps stimulate collagen production and disperse melanin clusters. It seems introducing vitamin C into your skincare regime could help your complexion regain a healthy glow over time.
Some of our favourite products include Allies of Skin’s 20% VitaminC Brighten + Firm Serum, a waterless formula infused with a potent form of vitamin C known as 20% ethylated L-ascorbic acid , which does all the heavy-duty work in reversing and preventing the signs of ageing. Dr Barbara Sturm’s The Good C Vitamin C Serum is ideal for those who want to reap all the benefits of vitamin C minus the risk of irritation, as it is supported by soothing ingredients such as glycerin, sodium hyaluronate as well as aloe and olive leaf extracts. To instantly breathe new life to dull and tired skin, Fields of Yarrow’s Super C Drops Revitalising Serum does the trick with its botanically charged formulation.
If there is one bathroom product that we men don’t pay enough attention to, it would be detoxifying shampoos. Dermatologists and trichologists have long emphasised that the scalp is an extension of facial skin, and warrants as much attention—especially as the temperature and humidity levels soar this summer season. A combined build-up of dead skin cells, hair product and grime on the scalp over the years is the most probable reason behind scalp irritation and hair loss. This build-up also provides a food source to malassezia, an organism present on the scalp that is responsible for oxidative damage (impacting hair growth as a result), according to a 2018 study by the International Journal of Trichology.
While the shampoo you are currently using is probably all well and good, perhaps it’s time to take scalp care to the next level with a deep-cleansing step every two weeks using one of these powerful purifying formulas. Ingredients such as salicylic acid, charcoal and micellar technologies do wonders in restoring a healthy shine to your tresses while allowing the scalp to finally get that breath of fresh air it desperately needs once it is free of follicle-blocking impurities.
We recommend K18’s Prep Detox Shampoo because it effectively exfoliates and detoxifies the hair and scalp with a blend of salicylic acid and charcoal. The best part is that it leaves your hair feeling bouncy and light even in the heat and humidity.
Another product to consider is Kevin. Murphy’s Scalp.Spa Wash. Aside from removing build-up, celery extract in the formula soothes any form of inflammation and restores the balance of healthy microflora on the scalp. Aesop’s Equalising Shampoo is a treat for the senses, thanks to the blend of aromatic essential oils in its mix. But ingredients such as fennel fruit, mistletoe leaf and eucalyptus are the true MVPs of this formula, as they help with introducing freshness and controlling excess sebum production with continued use.
In anticipation of the inter-monsoon season and an El Niño event, we should consider ditching our trousers and full sleeves. Breezy summer shorts and polo tees will certainly help us to embrace the season in comfort and style. But don’t go exposing any dull and ashy skin. Remember to use a quality body scrub to maintain a healthy full-body glow that you'll be proud to show off. Additionally, sloughing off dead skin cells off your body regularly also helps to reduce the risk of developing body acne and stave off heat rash significantly.
Drunk Elephant’s Sugared Koffie Almond Milk Body Scrub is a great pick-me-up with its hydrating almond milk and coffee-infused formula. Not only do the sugar granules promote a healthy sheen to the skin, caffeine in the mix encourages lymphatic drainage to allow your skin to look more taut and toned with every use.
If you’re yearning for a quick escape to a tropical island but haven’t had the time to, Fenty Skin’s Buff Ryder will help put your mind in holiday mode, thanks to its tropical fruit-scented formula. It also leaves your skin feeling so soft, your partner won’t be able to resist touching.
For a relaxing spa-like experience, Trilogy’s ultra-luxe Exfoliating Body Balm is one to consider as it effectively exfoliates, nourishes and provides aromatherapeutic benefits, thanks to a blend of almond and rosehipoils, as well as calming essential oils.
Perspiration, sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria are the culprits behind body odour, and they can get to devastating levels in the summer heats. Give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve already made antiperspirants and regular showers a part of your daily care routine. Now it’s time to include a unique and timeless summer scent to keep you smelling fresh all day. Penhaligon’s latest addition Solaris EDP smells like a day out sunbathing in Mykonos. Its creamy vanilla note is balanced with the bright and radiant bouquet of white florals and ylang ylang, bringing to mind an image of the sun, sand and sea, with a good slathering of a luxurious sun lotion.
If you prefer a unique marine fragrance that blends well with your natural body scent, Goldfield and Banks’ Pacific Rock Moss is one to consider. The blend of Italian lemon, sage, moss and geranium blends beautifully into something that smells like you, but better. Ilio EDP by Diptyque is a clean, juicy fragrance that uses notes of prickly pear and bergamot to bring about the relaxing image of a slow Sunday afternoon. The radiant touch of iris and jasmine brightens the mood with uplifting qualities.
Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Joan Tai
Photography Assistant: : Danial Mirza