Divya Zeiss, Swantribune

All images supplied by Swantribune

Sometimes something creative speaks to you more than the usual. You find yourself craving to know more about the subject. How you gather more knowledge can vary, but whichever path you choose you find you still want to know more. This is what happened when I came across SWANTRIBUNE. You could say that the colourful souvenir illustrations of DIVYA AUORA ZEISS and DANIEL ARON COHEN touched me in a particularly profound way; I instantly adored the manner in which the art expressed their passion for the bygone era of travel and travel etiquette. Here, Divya opens up about their work, style and influences.

When did you become interested in art?

I can’t say I was ever interested in art itself, I never studied art. But I always needed beauty to surround me and everything that was beautiful became a form of art. I love colours, therefore, I love Matisse, but I stand before his paintings with a naive eye, very innocent to his techniques, motives, and methods. I am interested in beauty and the effect it has on the individual.

What was your first art love?

Actually, literature was my first love. The way in which words could compose a painting in my imagination was extremely powerful. I began to write about a world I visioned and later I found a way in which I could draw that same world that once I could only express in my diary as words.

What is your signature style?

Colour and little people within a setting.

How did it come about?

I never dared to draw before so I would collect images and cut them out to then make a collage, which came as close as possible to the idea I had in my mind.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process?

I went to Jaipur to do an internship in Manglam arts. I liked the idea of learning the art of hand block prints. Somehow I never entered the block print room and remained in the design compartment where day after day I played with watercolours. Within the month I drew and felt the most creative I had ever felt. I owe that awakening to Jaipur.

What material do you work with?

I began drawing sketches using watercolours in my travel diary. My partner Daniel encouraged me, believed in the style I was developing and pushed me to learn how to draw digitally. So my illustrations could be done on both paper and iPad.

What do you do when you get the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block?

I accept it and focus my attention on other things. There is no need to pressure oneself. I don’t associate myself with my art, more like being an instrument. In Indian culture, the Deity Saraswati is the Goddess who bestows creativity on one. Her blessings turn into art and beauty, we are only instruments. So if I no longer feel creative I completely surrender that if it needs to it will come again.

What are your creative influences?

I am very inspired by the past, especially the bygone era of travel and travel etiquette. Hotel lobbies and the way ladies and gentlemen dressed for breakfast and dinner. There’s a mist to that world that has somehow dissolved now, and so I like to wander to the past for inspiration when it comes to fashion and settings.

What’s next for you?

My wedding!

A great work of art should be spontaneous and for oneself.

THE GUCCI CLASSROOM | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa


Perhaps had I worn beautiful clothes in the classroom,
I would have learnt to be a lady.
Had there been flora and a Cheetah,
I would have learnt to have an imagination.
Had I been able to see the sky I would have caught all the shooting stars and fulfilled my dreams.

VENICE | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa


I wore the muse of another man,
because in Venice the muse was never I
and the man always another.

A BABYHOOD OF DEITIES | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa


I had a babyhood of deities,
and I was told they all lived within my body,
which they said was a temple.
 So I corrected them and said,” no its a lobby”

 CENOBIO DEI DOGI | SwanTribune | Artist Interview | Travelshopa


I got over my Adolescent sadness when I found out about karma, that perhaps I was still suffering from the spoils of my last life and he was gallant because of his.
So we became wizards and hid in pink houses on the Riviera.

Belinda Lee, PINKSALT

Belinda Lee, PINKSALT | Interview | Travelshopa

A mutual belief that swimwear deserves comfort, individuality, modesty, and style, sparked founders Belinda Lee and Su May to launch Singapore-based brand PINKSALT in mid-2017. The swimwear label focuses on versatile pieces designed for a modern’s woman lifestyle, creating resort wear catered for both beach and urban settings. Their third collection, The Urban Playground, reimagines glamour from the 1950s with sleek silhouettes and digital prints inspired by the urban vibe and architectural lines of the city. Here we explore more about the brand the collection that reflects a modern independent woman in an urban city.

How did PINKSALT start out? What was your light bulb moment?

Su May and I started PINKSALT when we realised that affordable and fashionable swimwear is not well represented in the market. The lightbulb moment for me was when I could use my graphic design skills to design digital prints for the swimwear. 

How does PINKSALT differentiate itself from other swimwear labels?

We are a modest yet modern swimwear label that offers more coverage and focuses on flattering the female form.

Your latest, and third, collection is inspired by the 1950s (one of my personal favourite eras – well done). Why is that? How did you come up with that theme? Where did you look for inspiration?

The 1950s was certainly a fashionable period for women and I love to draw inspiration from the feminine silhouettes of that time. Following our vision of having a more modest take on swimwear, I designed the Monroe to offer a little bit more coverage around the thigh area using inspiration from a classic 1950’s bathing suit. The Belle 2 piece whilst offering a modest coverage on the stomach area, also draws its inspiration from the halterneck circle dresses from the 1950s. And staying true to my graphic design roots, the digital print of the Urban landscape modernises the collection and brings it forward to the 21st century

Could you please describe your design process?

I usually work by deciding on the textiles of the collection. That essentially is the soul of the collection. I will draw inspiration from photographs, illustrations and drawings of the theme that I will be working on. In the case of the Urban collection, I was inspired by the architectural lines of modern buildings. I would extract them from photographs and redesign the lines into a textiles block. 

What is your design philosophy? 

To innovate and produce designs that are unique, modern and relatable

Who are you designing for?

Like-minded women who are looking for something different and unique and beautiful

What does style mean to you?

Design and style has always been in my genetic makeup if you like

How would you describe your personal style?

Practical, modern, and classic

How has your style evolved?

I don’t follow trends. I believe in timeless and stylish fashion.

What’s your first fashion memory?

When I bought my first pair of black Gucci loafers after my second paycheck!

Belinda Lee, PINKSALT | Interview | Travelshopa
Belinda Lee, PINKSALT | Interview | Travelshopa

Michelle Boyce, Maissone

Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa

Photographs by Maissone

Since 2015 Maissone has been a leading the way within a cluster of some of Singapore's coolest cafes and independent boutiques in Tiong Bahru. The contemporary homeware store offers a beautifully curated mix of scandi and tribal pieces that are sure to impress. After recently winning an international retail award, New Zealand-born founder Michelle Boyce shares her retail journey and let us in on her healthy obsession with design and interiors.

How did you get started in retail? What were you doing before you opened your store?

Before I opened Maissone I travelled and cared for my children. I saw a large gap in the Singapore market for contemporary homeware and that’s how Maissone came about. We started in 2014 as an online business based at home and in 2015 opened a showroom, soon after we moved within the same street to a larger location.

What inspired you to open your store?

The love of interiors inspired me. Friends would always ask where I got unique items I collected on my travels. There was an unmet consumer need for contemporary homeware and bedlinen in Singapore and decided to use my drive and passion to make Maissone what it is today.

If asked to describe your store to someone unfamiliar with it, what would you say?

We are located in the unique and diverse district of Tiong Bahru. We carry various brands from across the globe with product ranging from Scandinavian to tribal designs. Maissone is a virtual business card and portfolio for the company – its online home.

What makes your store unique?

We only carry brands that are not readily available in Singapore that are sourced globally. We also pride ourselves on working with small businesses and integrating strong international brands, with a local presence so that our customers have the best of everything available to them in one place.

Congratulations on winning IHA 2017-2018 Global Innovation Award for Retail Excellence South-Eat Asia. What does the win mean to you?

Thank you! Winning the IHA Global Innovation Award for Retail Excellence in South East Asia has definitely been one of our biggest achievements. The award is both a meaningful accomplishment for myself and the team, as well as an important milestone for the brand. For a small business, recognition on an international scale based on innovation and excellence is a significant success for us. Exposure at a global level has been beneficial for brand strengthening and awareness.

You have customers (in Singapore and beyond) that have been shopping at your store since it opened. Who are your customers?

Our customers are both expats and locals of all age groups. Some customers have been visiting since Maissone opened and some are brand new. We love meeting new people, from all walks of life and catching up with our regular customers when they stop by.

Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa

You have a very minimalist / Scandi aesthetic. Can you tell us a bit about the brands you curate? And why?

We prefer to work with boutique brands we know personally. It’s really important to us to support other small businesses; we like to be familiar with the faces behind the brands and foster close relationships. With our expansion over the last few years, we have been working with more European brands while still actively sourcing in Australasia. With regards to our aesthetic, we keep away from mainstream materials like plastic and prefer well-made ceramic, wood, metal and glass products designed by industry creatives.

What are your best selling products?

Products from all lifestyle categories – Most of our product is unique and sourced in small quantities, so it never hangs around for too long!

Where do you look for inspiration?

We look for inspiration firstly and most importantly – through feedback from our customers. We also consult social media, books, magazines, travelling and trade fairs. We travel several times a year to trade fairs around the globe to source unique product, gather inspiration and check out seasonal trends.

How has the Internet impacted your business?

The Internet allows us, as retailers, to connect with potential customers and to express our brand in new ways. A synergy of online and brick and mortar allows us to reach our customers through different outlets. Technology is the way forward and it is transforming our customer’s shopping experiences.

What do you think the future holds for your store and shopping in Singapore?

Millenials are currently dominating the workforce in Singapore. Given their upbringing in a digital age we have to adjust and evolve to keep up the pace and needs of our consumers. It is important to evolve with technology and not rely on one particular platform.

If you could give one piece of advice to the youth, or someone starting out in their career, what would you say?

You need to be a motivated thinker and a self-starter. You really have to invest your time and effort in your passion to make it succeed. Perseverance is key.

Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa

Shop The Story

Leather Butterfly Chair | Maissone | Travelshopa


Leather Butterfly Chair

Landscape Throw | Maissone | Travelshopa


Landscape Throw

Meraki Body Lotion Cotton Haze | Maissone | Travelshopa


Meraki Body Lotion Cotton Haze

Explore more about Maissone
38 Eng Hoon Street
169783 Tiong Bahru


Linda Cox on Milan

While she frequently visits Milan and Paris on buying trips, LINDA COX owner of Aquel in Sydney has had a long love affair with MILAN. She loves this stylish and chic Italian city, as it's not jammed with tourists. It is understated and elegant. But it's when the fashion buyers are in town that speaks to her - the people watching, style and vibe is something else, especially in the summer. Oh my! Here she shares her top tips when visiting this fashion capital.

Milan is… not the city on the top of the tourist list for most people visiting Italy, where tourists are more readily drawn to the cities of Venice, Florence and Rome. Milan has always been known as the centre of Italian fashion and being there during Milan Fashion Week means the streets are busier than usual. But oh, the fashion on the streets is something else. Everyone seems to be associated with the fashion industry in some guise – whether as a model, photographer, fashion buyer, showroom assistant, designer, fashion blogger and they are dressed for the show! There is never a better time than to see the latest looks and trends than on the streets of Milan during Fashion Week.

What takes you to Milan?

As a fashion buyer, I am in Milan 3 – 4 times each year. Sometimes I am travelling alone, other times with my husband and occasionally my 10-year-old daughter joins us too. Not only have we developed a love for Milan, we have discovered Milan is a fabulous hub for enjoying many day trips to places like Turin, Bologna, Verona with a train network that makes these day trips a breeze.

What is your favourite thing about Milan?  

Enjoying an aperitif at the end of a day of appointments and people watching.

What should one pack when visiting Milan?

Always comfortable shoes when travelling.  Outside of that, Milan is a stylish, understated fashion capital.  I always love to have a great jacket and when going to the showrooms, I always try to dress ‘on brand”… meaning I always dress in the label I am seeing.


The fashion showrooms are spread out in Milan so the key is just to stay somewhere in central Milan and use taxis to get between appointments. Room Mate Guilia has become my absolute favourite hotel. Located in a quiet side street right next to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, it is an easy location for a short taxi ride to just about anywhere I need to be. The young knowledgeable staff at this new boutique hotel give this Hotel the coolest vibe with their cute orange heart shaped badges telling everyone their passion, whether it be food, travel or dancing. After all they are Italian!



Anyone travelling to Milan loves to shop and this is where you will find the flagship stores for the Italian brands. Via Montenapoleone and the streets around it are filled with the most beautiful shops in the world. I always try to visit the boutiques of the labels that we sell at AQUEL so that I stay up to date with how our labels are merchandised in their flagship stores.

There are not a lot of multi-brand boutiques in Milan however if you are short of time and want to see a great selection of Italian brands in one place then La Tenda, Banner and Biffi are all good options. The famous Italian department is Rinascente right by the Duomo and is packed with Italian fashion. The rooftop bar is a perfect spot for an apertif at eye line view with the stunning Gothic architecture of the Duomo. For a unique shopping experience, a visit to the exclusive and innovative department store of Excelsior is worthwhile just to wander the seven floors of contemporary and eye-catching design.


There are no shortage of fabulous Italian restaurants in Milan. At least once during my stay in Milan I have lunch at Dolce & Gabbana’s Bar Martini®. Sitting in the courtyard enjoying a prosecco and truffle risotto on a spring day during Fashion Week is hard to beat. When I need a peaceful spot for lunch, the Armani Hotel restaurant is my favourite. Quiet, refined, understated and elegant in its food and styling, it gives my head a break after the intensity of a showroom appointment. In the evening you will find wonderful Italian cuisine at Dal Bolognese, Giacomo Bistrot and Bice.

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