Meet your makers at OMG

Client: National Heritage Board/Bras.Basah.Bugis

Do you wish you had a Hovercraft powered by leaf-blowers?

If “yes”, you can make those dreams a reality by checking out OneMaker Group (OMG) — a design, tech and do-it-yourself collective dedicated to the noble art of making cool things. The “makers” are designers, entrepreneurs, tailors, inventors and artists from all walks of life, united only by their love of making things. Think of it as your secondary school design and technology lab with more lasers and less sawdust.

OMG is tucked away in a discreet corner of the National Design Centre and the Prototyping Lab is divided into two parts. Part one is a lounge where the makers hang about using AutoCAD on their laptops.

Pallet is love, pallet is life.

Part two is where the magic happens… and by magic we mean woodworking. If you look closely, you will notice that all of OMG’s furniture is recycled from pallets.

OMG often hosts workshops for the public to get hands-on and creative. They do prototyping for the National Library. They conduct corporate events so auditors can embarrass themselves with a hammer. They help alcoholics to etch their own personalised shot glasses, and so on.

We sneaked into the OMG workspace for an afternoon to suss out some of the cool projects being brought to life.

Now all I need is a bigger wallet.

Even with Linkedin, a personalised business card can leave a lasting impression because it stands out from the rest of your usual cubicle clutter. As cards go, they don’t come cooler than this one.

Made for a precision engineer, the card contains a built-in flashlight, which may come in handy in case your client scheduled a meeting for 9pm at Mandai Cemetery.

OMG also does a great deal of outreach to educate people on the importance of getting hands-on. Unlike your boring secondary school vice-principal, they don’t make 60-page powerpoint slides and drone on about the importance of career-planning. They get people involved with “maker kits”.

Think of it as instant ramen for your inner Thomas Edison. Every packet contains all the ingredients and tools you need to assemble something cool and very satisfying.

Cooking time for each packet is approximately one hour. Previous workshop participants got to choose from a stitch-less leather purse, a yarn-bombing cup or a motion-sensing robot. It was uncertain if the latter could eventually travel back in time to terminate you.

While my guide and I were trying to power up Mr Robot, one of the makers dropped by to say hello. Meet Mr Bartholomew Ting a.k.a Bart, a former NUS business school graduate who abandoned the corporate world as a manager at an MNC to make cardboard sculptures.

Here’s Bart with a miniature lion coin bank:

And here’s Bart completely misunderstanding how Pokemon Go works:

Gym leader Bart, with cardboard Snorlax which he made in collaboration with students from

Singapore University of Technology and Design. Image credit: Robin Oh

In addition to workshops, OMG also offers prototyping services for your business. The lab owns a number of 3D printers which can churn out a polycarbonate or resin model of your design in a few hours. It works by using a filament to deposit material upon a plate. By building up layer upon layer, you can make almost anything.

In just 1 to 2 hours, you can print this bust of… Will Ferrell?

Will: I need Botox ASAP

Or this girl who is expressing her joy at seeing Will Ferrell…

OMG, I loved you in Elf!

As we moved on to the woodworking studio, we bumped into our second maker — Hilmi Abideen, a mechanical engineering and design graduate from NTU.

Hilmi works for a Powerful and Famous MNC which must not be named. If said MNC’s HR department is wondering where Hilmi had gone that fine Thursday afternoon — we found him. He was hiding out in OMG’s Lab and sipping on something — possibly a homemade Aqueous Copper Sulfate Cocktail.

Nobody at OMG could really explain why Hilmi was plating copper onto copper. It was for a “mystery project”.

The metal box with LED lights behind him is a “Digital Ultrasonic Cleaner”. Or in layman’s terms, it’s a vibrating tank of water you can use to clean jewellery, lenses and other objects too sensitive for a quick wipe on your T-shirt. He was using it to shake off bits of copper from his electroplating project but he advised me against using it to clean my imaginary Omega watch as the vibrations would mess with the mechanics of the timepiece.

Lasers make everything better.

OMG’s woodworking area contains two pieces of equipment worth explaining. The first is a computer-controlled cutting machine, or CNC router, while the second is a laser cutter, that can also be controlled by your laptop. It is not advisable to stick your hand into either machine while it is in operation.

The CNC router is used for rougher cuts while the laser offers a more refined finish. When you combine both, you can make an elegant iPhone dock-amplifier with your significant other’s name on it.

Speaking of wood, we found Amrien Karia hard at work in the studio. Amrien is the skaterboi who could have been the inspiration for that Avril Lavigne song you’re too embarrassed to admit that you still remember.

Amrien in the middle

He may not have made it on MTV, but he did become the mastermind behind a series of skateboard furniture for House of Vans. According to Amrien, there’s nothing he loves more than the “refreshing smell of the workshop in the morning”.

Image credit: Amrien Karia

It was soon time for us to bid farewell to OMG, but you don’t have to. In 2017, OMG gives you the chance to design and create a herb garden, a lightsaber, a batik drawstring pouch or even, wait for it, a hexagon.

If you ever wanted a miniature herb garden to impress your Jedi master, OneMaker Group is located at at the National Design Centre, 111 Middle Road, #01–02, Singapore 188969. To learn more about their classes or workshops, visit their site.

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