Fable

At Fable they walk the talk, not fluff the puff (it's my favourite line from their website's 'about' section, I couldn't resist). We chat with Creative Director Jiahui Tan about what qualities he looks for in a graduate — no diva's, thank you ‍♂️ — he explains to us how the studio name came about, plus we chat about the ups and downs of studio life.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

I was freelancing for quite a while through Army (males have to serve two years of army here once we turn 18) and during University. Long story short during the second year of University I met a client who screamed at me over the phone in the middle of the night threatening to sue me because I am “not a real company.” I logged onto the government portal and registered a business (with that client still on the line). Good for us our processes here online are decently fast. I then began to do up my legal documents the next day and got to learn more about running a business alone. One thing led to another and I began to take on bigger jobs from the various sectors. I continued upon graduation until today. In hindsight, I have to thank that client for doing what he did to me because without him I would never have registered a practice so soon. If you are wondering — I terminated his project the next morning after registering the business.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

I think I grew up in the generation where there was an explosion of design. With the digitisation of design and the onset of computer work, everyone could do design. The accessibility of creation is great but it also generates a lot of noise and clutter. Very often I see projects that have aesthetics, or nicely photographed documentation but little concept, which bugs me to hell. We work on branding projects and campaigns, and in this age of clutter and over-design, what sets us apart is our ability to craft a story alongside the aesthetics. I think strategy and storytelling craft is a very important part of designing. The other word for story is Fable.

Design work by Fable The Design Kids interviews Fable work-2

What do you look for in a great client?

Brave enough to take risks. Forward-looking. Visionary in differentiating their brand. Consumer-centric and not overly profit-driven. Respectful and polite — I cannot emphasise this enough. And of course, punctual with payment.

What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

Qualities – Humility / Willingness to learn / Team-player / Polite / Design sensibility (you might think it looks good but does it address the brief?) / Maturity / NO DIVAs

Skills – The usual programs

Design work by Fable The Design Kids interviews Fable work-4
Design work by Fable The Design Kids interviews Fable work-4

The accessibility of creation is great but it also generates a lot of noise and clutter.

Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

I would like to see my team as the Avengers. We all have different roles, some overlapping skillsets, diverse personalities and traits. When we come together, it feels like we can conquer the world. Of course we have our bad days and difficult moments when things get tight and up our neck. But a team isn’t built by only the fun chatter, outings, and high moments — it is also constructed by the lows. I always stand by one thing — my teammates are more important than my clients (sorry clients!).

What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?

We have been betrayed by partner vendors, thrown under the bus by friends, maligned and defamed by strangers, got our ideas stolen time and time again, trampled on by vendors, bullied and abused by clients, backstabbed by whom I thought were industry friends, and many more in our not-so-long studio history. One thing I’ve learnt – be honest, be kind, and treat these as life’s natural filtration system. Every ecosystem has its own cleansing system, right?

Design work by Fable The Design Kids interviews Fable work-6
Design work by Fable The Design Kids interviews Fable work-6

Where to find Fable online.

Website: fable.sg

Instagram: @hellofable

Get involved