MAAD x STORIES: Metalphorically


Red Dot Design Museum Singapore gets up close and personal with Ben Pang of Metalphorically.

What was your inspiration behind starting Metalphorically? 

I have been working as an engineer in a metalworking company for almost eight years. My customers were mostly business to business (B2B) users, hence our working relationship was largely based on a straightforward, profit or loss basis. As the years went by and my skill level in machinery application increased, I yearned to create and add a personal touch to things that are relatable to people, their friends and family. 

This drive became my inspiration to start Metalphorically. 

With personalized messages, drawings that your kids brought home from school, handwriting or if you do practise your own calligraphy lettering, and even quotes that you live by, engraved on different functional items like thumb drives, power banks etc, I can help people transfer their thoughts and love to their cherished ones, or even for themselves. 


Who is your brand’s target audience, and why do you aim to reach this certain audience? 

We see ourselves as metal crafters, helping to capture stories, love and inspiration. 

I’m a practical person- so functional items are my first choice of gifts. And if someone were to gift me something, I would hope to receive something from my shop. Many of my clients purchased from Metalphorically because they themselves want to bring the items with them wherever they go, as a constant reminder of their loved ones, or an inspirational message for himself to get through the daily grind of each day. 

So our target audience? 

People from all walks of life. Could be a father trying to capture the words written on his 4-year old son’s first Father’s Day card to him on a thumb drive, so that he could start storing all his precious photos of him with his son in one place. Could be a graduate purchasing a power bank for herself, so that she can carry a quote around to motivate her as she embarks on her new journey ahead.

And these are not some stories we make up for this article. The youngest client we had was only 5 years old. He gave us his “designs” to be engraved on a key-shaped memory stick for his teacher as a farewell gift right after his mom ordered a similar item as an anniversary gift for his father.

Technology like iPhones, apps has enabled people to design and create content easily. I hope with this business, people feel more inspired and confident to come up with personalized gifts for themselves and for their loved ones. 


What makes you unique in this field? 

Three things. 

1) Fully customized artwork 

2) No limit to words or number

3) No minimum order 


What motivated you to work on mainly the medium of metal? 

Laser engraving has the best effect on metal, as the finish is clear, crisp and sharp. The engraving and material is very durable, simple care is all it takes for them to last for many years. There is almost no limit to complexity of artwork. There is a large range of items available for engraving, hence more choices for our customers. Metal is a renewable material which can be melted and recycled if the user decides to dispose of the item. 

We also ask Ben and Nicky about their dreams and aspirations with regards to MAAD. 

How did you first find out about MAAD, and when did you first join? 

I knew about MAAD from my partner who heard it from another artist while manning our booth at iLights@Marina Bay. We went for our first MAAD session on 7 April which happened to be the last MAAD session at 28 Maxwell Road. We are looking forward to the next #MAAD that is likely to take place in the last quarter of 2017!


What is your motivation in joining the event? 

As an artesian and designer, we need to be out there. The collection we are working on are mainly EDC (Every Day Carry) gear. So it is very important for us to study expressions, to collect ideas, to get a sense of what people like and what people would be interested in. Google analytics can only tell you so much. 

But primarily, as a small and young business, I wanted more publicity and exposure for my online shop on Etsy and I love to have this platform to be able to communicate directly with customers on a face to face basis. Sometimes, they give us very good advice on how we can include a feature into our product to increase the number of functions it can do and sometimes, they give us a chance to demonstrate how our these items can be essential in their everyday lives and if it is personalized, they are carrying a memory or a quote to encourage them everywhere they go.


What are your hopes for MAAD? 

To be able to continue to attract a wide range of works put together by local design and artistic community and to keep up with that vibrant spirit. 


How has MAAD affected your art and craft? 

MAAD has given me new ideas for potential designs and items that will cater to the needs of Singaporeans. Through the event, I get a better sensing which products are more popular with locals.

Besides MAAD attracts a mad lot of creative people. 

Many of the vendors here are so talented! We need to be here to be “infected” with the spirit of creativity and be inspired ourselves. How can we better market our items, how do we put up a better display and how do we tell people “hey you definitely need what we are selling because you can’t get something as good as this out there” without being in-their-face.


Katrina Adrianne