Culture / Art Republik

Walk Differently — Re-Route Festival 2022

Abandon all traditional perceptions you have of Little India because Re-Route Festival 2022 will let you experience the enclave with new eyes, smells, and sensations.

Sep 13, 2022 | By Joe Lim
Re-Route Festival 2022

Re-look and rediscover the sights, sounds and smells of Little India differently at Re-Route Festival 2022. Image: Nikko Pascua

If you think you’ve seen enough of Singapore’s roads, lanes, landscapes, and back alleys since the pandemic cooped us on our Little Red Dot, think again. PLUS Collaboratives, a husband-wife duo whose storied career as a multi-award-winning design studio in the field of experiential design, spatial design, graphic design, and visual communication, has an enticing proposition for fellow Singaporeans craving to explore Little India in its granularity and not-often seen cultures. The couple made up of Mervin Tan and Cheryl Sim are Creative Director and Design Directors respectively of the firm. Being co-founders of the company, their curiosity cannot be tamed especially when they study how good design is linked to human behaviours. Tan was involved in a number of nationwide programmes such as Singaplural in 2015 and 2016 where he was the Festival Director. He also took the reins of curating the multi-disciplinary experiences that launched the Singapore Tourism Board’s tourism campaign called “Passion Made Possible”.

Re-Route Festival 2022

Cheryl Sim and Mervin Tan, Directors of Re-Route Festival. Image: PLUS Collaboratives

Cheryl Sim’s forte delves into spatial design, graphic design, experiential design, and visual communication. Her academic background where she holds a Master’s degree in Architecture has led her to combine visual communications with the fields of integrated design principles for her clients and government work. One of her renowned works was creating an immersive print experience for FujiFilm Business Innovation called “Insecta Iridesse” where attendees explored tactility during the launch of the Passion Made Possible brand for the Singapore Tourism Board.


Come 16 September to 9 October 2022, the couple is bent on creating deeper meanings with historical sites through curated design experiences tempered with cultural elements. Dubbed “Re-Route Festival”, the placemaking festival will offer experiential storytelling in the precinct of Little India. Supported by Singapore Tourism Board and DesignSingapore Council, the festival will lead attendees to witness and experience how Singapore’s heritage can be expressed through a collective of creative voices.

The three-week-long festival will host curated experiences, programmes, installations, and other design activations, allowing people to “detour”, and hence “re-route” their usual routes to explore the area through a new lens or perspective. Attendees can gain insights into Little India’s lesser-known history and oral anecdotes.

Re-Route Festival 2022

Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Store – Siblings David and Irene Yeo helm this quaint and rustic Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Store, located at Chander Road. Image: PLUS Collaboratives

Little India is more than just a seedy, gritty zone as Plus Collaborative’s novel, design-led placemaking Re-Route Festival will prove you otherwise. This detour will lead you deeper into the area’s rich heritage and culture. While Little India is renowned as a tourist destination, the Festival will explore unexpected routes tinged with a dose of serendipity. Tan opines, “As tourism gradually resumes in the post-pandemic world, we saw the opportunity to fuel the appeal of Singapore’s historical areas through domestic and international tourism. This September, Re-Route Festival focuses on Little India, which is well known to many as a historical site and a centre of amenities. Whether people head down to Little India for a specific purpose or to explore heritage sites, visitors tend to only concentrate on specific areas without fully appreciating the characteristics of the location. The Re-Route Festival intends to introduce story cores that will draw people into other areas of Little India and explore the untold histories of the area.”

Re-Route Festival 2022

Re-Route Festival 2022 banner promotion. Image: PLUS Collaboratives

The highlights of Re-Route Festival are three locations where historical narratives are explored. The journey for participants will lead them to experience art installations, activities, and performances by various creatives. Exploring the granularity makes the whole trip more enthralling as you begin to discover that Little India is not just a “space”, but instead, a cornucopia of different communities, tastemakers, artisans, and vibrant livelihoods.

Race Course

For the ignoramus, Race Course was once a busy sports and recreational hub for Europeans who had a penchant for horse racing. The Colonial-style premises were erected in 1843 and was called Singapore Racecourse. You’ll hear anecdotes of its former glory where the upper class of society such as Europeans, Malay Sultans, and wealthy Chinese would convene and enjoy the races.

New World Amusement Park

Here, attendees will delve into the history of the New World Amusement Park which was once an affordable and wholesome entertainment venue for the masses. The park was one of the first three amusement parks that proved to be a popular hangout in Singapore from the 1920s to the 1960s. It used to be a spot where different ethnicities would gather and enjoy the fun fair vibe, where boxing matches, getai and operatic performances, dance halls, and cabaret shows wooed the crowds from all walks of life.

Serangoon Road

The rich history of Serangoon Road is explored as participants will get to understand how this road was integral to the development of Little India where it was bustling with trade. Being one of the earliest roads built in Singapore to serve as a link between the settlements in town and Serangoon Harbour, you’ll get a first-hand explanation of how this main thoroughfare served as an important conduit for businesses and trades to flourish. You’ll get to hear how the area was famous for its brick kiln trade back in the 1820s, alongside cattle farming which was looked after by Indians. The explorative route will bring to light how from 1860 to the 1970s, a bounty of industrial-led trades such as wheat-grinding sheds, sesame oil presses, rattan works, rubber smokehouses, and pineapple factories thrived.

Tasty Tours

Re-Route Festival 2022

Come savour Pani Puri – one of the lesser-known cuisines from India. Journey into Little India’s food culture. Image: PLUS Collaboratives

More than just pratas, the Re-Route Festival will also place an emphasis on food where you get to explore Pav Bahji, Pani Puri, Momos, and more. You can end the day with a sublime cocktail served by the trades of Little India by Olibier Rooftop Bar.

For each highlight, a group of Singapore creatives will deep dive into the area’s history and explain the lesser-known historical anecdotes of Little India. Supplemented by themed experiences, design fixtures, activities, performances, and installations, participants find these “re-routes” more immersive and insightful. The Re-Route Festival will also work with small business owners located within Little India, to promote and enhance the community that makes the location one-of-a-kind.

Re-Route Festival tour tickets will be available for purchase soon. Ticket holders will get to experience curated experiences from collaborating creatives such as Antz Chong, Bynd Artisan, Feral studio, NextofKin Creatives, Studio Asobi, and many more. Visitors can also purchase event merchandise as well as taste culinary delights specially created for the Re-Route Festival. For more information, visit:

The Re-Route Festival is part of Asia’s premier design festival – Singapore Design Week (SDW) taking place from 16 to 25 September 2022 where key festival pillars such as Design Futures, Design Marketplace, and Design Impact will be explored and presented. More information can be found at

There will also be FIND – Design Fair Asia, part of the anchor events for Singapore Design Week. More information at:

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