In Straat Smart, we talk to well-travelled individuals and see the world through their eyes. This month we talk to Mr. and Mrs. Sabotage (Mark Ong and Sue-Anne Lim), the creative couple behind Royalefam. They tell us where to go for good food, shopping and other sensory overload.
By Kim Hana
The Sabotage (SBTG) identity was created in 2003 by Singaporean artist Mark Ong, Mr. Sabotage. His sneaker painting, which started out as a hobby, earned him recognition when he won a sneaker customizing competition on the Nike Talk Forum. His winning submission drew attention from the sneaker industry giants, and SBTG became a name synonymous with the art of sneaker customization, attracting celebrities including Kobe Bryant, Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn of Linkin Park. In 2010, having gained inspiration from his travels to Mexico, Paris and Manila, Mr. Sabotage embarked on a new journey as a visual artist with his beloved wife and business partner, Sue (Mrs. Sabotage). The duo recently exhibited their works in a show titled “Acoustic Anarchy Redux“. To shed light on the art and science behind sneaker customization, SBTG will be conducting a Custom Sneaker Workshop on September 8th.
Which are some of your favorite places in the world?
Mrs. SBTG: I love Tokyo and Taipei. I love the culture, the shopping, the food… And, he proposed to me in Tokyo 6 years ago.
Mr. SBTG: I love Tokyo and Taipei too. I love the Japanese approach – everything is detailed and their work speaks volumes for itself. Tokyo is good for shopping and the fashion; the clothes fit Asians well.
Best hotels in the world?
Mrs. SBTG: I liked the W in Mexico City. There’s a hammock in the shower, too!
Mr. SBTG: I loved Cerulean in Tokyo. It’s where we stayed when I proposed to her. But the best by far is the Shangri-La in Manila. Beautiful. Forget about a lobby pianist, they had a whole orchestra in the lobby – this was ‘next level’ stuff. It was nice to sit at the lobby, drink and chill.
Your favorite places in the world to see art?
Mrs. SBTG: I like the general art culture in Paris, and I’m not talking specifics – I like how they appreciate beauty, culture, architecture… I loved The Louvre in Paris. It was sensory overload because some paintings are 10 to 20 meters in height.
Mr. SBTG: Back then it took years to do a piece of painting. My work looks like instant noodles next to the classics. And yes, The Louvre was sensory overload. It was so intense that I took a nap at the fountain for about 15 minutes after we were done.
Mr. SBTG: Eye mask to sleep on the plane and a scarf for extra darkness. A set of clothing in my hand carry, just in case luggage doesn’t arrive on time. Our luggage took three days to arrive in Mexico. We bring things like neck pillows, shades, and MUJI room spray, Febreze.
Mrs. SBTG: Extra eyelashes. I don’t leave home without them.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Mrs. SBTG: Our studio right here.
Mr. SBTG: Or we travel. I like to observe for feelings or being in a particular state of mind and try to recreate that for people through our art.
Worst travel experience?
Mrs. SBTG: Last time I was in Bangkok and I got sick with food poisoning and he had to get a doctor to come to the room to give me a jab. After that I couldn’t eat Thai food for years.
Mr. SBTG: Anywhere with a group tour. We made the mistake of signing up for one in Korea. I need the freedom of choice! I cannot have people plan my life for me. It’s like reservist – what do you mean I have to go and I have no choice? I’m serving my last one by the way!
Mrs. SBTG: Any situation where we cannot choose, is a bad travel experience.