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Bean dolls of the old trades

Lead Designers
Prize(s)Bronze in Other Graphic Designs / Other Graphic designs
Project LinkView
Entry Description

Hand-sewn and filled with bean sprout husks, these Bean Dolls of symbolic Chinatown figures (Towkay, Kopi Uncle, Samsui Woman & MaJie) are designed for comfort and play – it can be acted as a mouse wrist rest, comfort stuffed toy, or an information piece of the old trade of Singapore Chinatown.

These Bean Dolls are a combination of old and new; modern illustration meets the old tradition of bean sprout husks, and a combine effort of the young designers and the old folks of Chinatown – the young designers designed the doll and created the illustrations, while the old folks dried the bean sprout husks, cut the fabric and hand-sewn the dolls.

These Bean Dolls are a modern way of documenting the old Chinese trades of Singapore. The illustration style of the Bean Doll is simple line work to illustrate a modern and approachable character of the symbolic Chinatown figures. It aims to attract the attention of the younger generation and act as an educational piece for history discovery, and encourage the young people to probe further into the past of Singapore.

Towkay – was the traditional name for the first generation of Chinese business owners to arrive in Singapore. As natural born merchants, they demonstrated their talents in different businesses through the trading of goods with the Indians and British.

Kopi Uncle – Highly skilled in roasting coffee, these old school baristas would pour pippin' hot cuppas that would kick start the days of many Singaporeans.

Samsui Woman – was a construction worker who fetched materials for construction sites. Dressed in dark blue samfoos paired with a distinct red headgear, they toiled with a vow to live a life without marriage.

MaJie – Traditionally seen in long plaited hair with black and white samfoos, Ma Jies dedicated their lives to servant hood.


Jesvin Yeo, who trained at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London, is a multidisciplinary designer who explores natures and consequences of historical and contemporary cultural changes, in particular areas related to Asian Material Culture and Heritage Studies. Jesvin founded Designing Cultures Studio which produced award-winning works that have been featured in international design publications including Wallpaper*, HOW Magazine, Communication Arts, PRINT and Applied Arts, as well as exhibited at galleries and museums in Berlin, London, Washington D.C, Tokyo and Beijing.

Other Awards and Prizes

Among 58 international design awards Jesvin received are the prestigious Red Dot Award (Communication Design), German Design Award, GOOD DESIGN™ Award and iF Communication Design Award.