Cheelip has helmed creative departments in Vietnam, Tokyo, China and of course Singapore. And won plaudits and awards from pretty much every international creative festival. He has also recently joined the Cresta Grand Jury.
As he returns to the bustling Asian hub after six very successful years in Beijing and Shanghai, we asked the CCO of Wunderman for the inside track on this beguiling city.
What’s the best thing about living in singapore?
Singapore’s multi-cultural DNA makes everyone feel welcome and at home. And being a safe, garden city with a pulsating cosmopolitan vibe, Singapore fuses eastern and western cultures together perfectly.
In which area do you live ?
I live in Lakeside, which is in the western region of Singapore. The name of the area is pretty self-explanatory since my apartment faces a lake, which is lovely for a morning jog before work.
How would you describe the style of your home?
I would say that it is a creative mess – filled with Chinese contemporary art, Fender guitars, bookshelves consisting of old Punkrock fanzines, graphic novels, vinyl records and movie posters of classic films like A Clockwork Orange, Chungking Express, Kill Bill, Iron Monkey, amongst others. I enjoy my reading corner where I can enjoy some quiet ‘geekout’ time over a glass of single malt whisky, while Duke Ellington plays in the background.
Tell us about your commute?
I use Grab (a ride-hailing app platform) to get to work and take a train back home, to reduce my carbon footprint.
Do you have a favourite coffee shop near the office?
It will be Ya Kun, which has served Singapore-style coffee since 1926. Now that I am back in Singapore after 6 years in China (Beijing and Shanghai), it is great to show support to a heritage home grown brand.
What’s a typical work day for you?
Providing innovative solutions to grow our clients’ businesses with my team.
Assuming you don’t have to work late for once, where would you head for a mid week evening out?
I’d be at my Muay Thai gym for a workout. I believe in keeping the mind sharp and the body strong. I had three professional Muay Thai fights when I was younger and fitter, with a record of 2 wins and one loss. Good old days.
If you could only buy clothes from one designer, who would you choose?
I try not to limit myself to just a single style. I do like street-wear from Supreme though, they are so hard to get these days. I am also a big fan of Virgil Abloh and the late Alexander McQueen for their bold creative expressions through fashion.
Do you wear anything that has become your ‘signature’?
My signature style is probably not being limited to just one particular fashion style. Not being predictable is good. Some days I will just be happy with a simple black tee and a pair of camouflaged cargo pants but when I have important client meetings, I will be in my formal best.
What was your last ‘big’ purchase?
If you were having trouble cracking a brief, what or who would you turn to for inspiration?
There shouldn’t be problem coming up with a smart solution to a clearly defined brief. If I need extra inspiration, I turn to DJ Goldie for some drum and bass beats.
Can you recommend a little known area or place that visitors should explore ?
Pulau Ubin, an island off eastern Singapore. This is considered the last remaining Kampung (Malay word for village) in Singapore. A slow stroll through Pulau Ubin will take you back to life in in the 1960s. You can walk or cycle through rustic roads which are surrounded by coconut palms and then enjoy a simple seafood dinner by the beach at night. Time literally slows down when you are at Ubin, and the simple joys of life come alive.
Do you have a favourite bar or restaurant?
Manhattan Bar in Singapore for drinks. It is ranked Number 1 in Asia and holds 3rd place on the World’s Best Bars list. Every cocktail served there comes with a unique story (and as a creative, I am a big fan of a good story) and my recommended drinks will be their ‘Eighth Velt’ and ‘Mad Dog’ which are my fave drinks for a Friday evening.
As for a restaurant, I enjoy going to Jumbo Seafood from time to time with my family for its legendary Chili Crab. This is a must-have if you are visiting Singapore for the first time. I am also a big fan of local delights, so I like going to Tiong Bahru market where you can find the very best Chicken Rice, Carrot Cake, Wanton Noodles, etc.
If you could change one thing about your city, what would it be?
I would increase its size so the city’s awesomeness isn’t limited by land space.
What do you most look forward to doing at the weekend?
Spending time with my family and friends.
Which apps, websites and social media do you use most?
Spotify. Grab. Linkedin. Instagram. Facebook. Alipay. Wechat. Whatsapp. 7 min workout. Banking apps. Blinkist.
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A CREATIVE LIFE: CHEELIP ONG