Stories > Chairs For Charity

2016 • Issue 2

Chairs For Charity

Singaporean Imis Iskandar partners artists from around Asia to raise funds for needy cancer patients through his art and charity initiative, CHAIRITY.




n 2010, Imis Iskandar’s father was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. A year later, he suffered a relapse, which prompted Imis to do something, not only to honour his father, but also to help cancer patients with financial difficulties. Although his father was able to afford treatment, Imis realised that others might struggle with its cost.

Imis, 33, a regional sales representative, says: “My parents raised me with the mentality that I should give back to society when I can.” The former product designer decided to put that into practice through CHAIRITY, an initiative in which chairs specially decorated by artists and designers are auctioned to raise funds for non-profit organisations that work with cancer patients. The design of each chair reflects the artist’s perspective on the impact of cancer.

CHAIRITY’s first fund raiser took place in Singapore in May 2012 to coincide with the 59th birthday of Imis’ father. Despite being bedridden at the time, Imis’ father turned up at the event on a stretcher to lend his support. He died a few days later.

Singaporean artist Abu Jalal Sarimonʼs chair, Roaring Stripes; Imis Iskandar with some of the chairs created for this yearʼs CHAIRITY event in Jakarta.

Since then, CHAIRITY has continued to bring together artists and designers – from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China – to decorate chairs to raise awareness for cancer. To date, CHAIRITY has been held in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, raising more than S$1 million for needy cancer patients in the three countries.

In April this year, the event was held in Jakarta, supported by the Singapore International Foundation under its Arts For Good initiative. The 54 chairs, designed by 50 international artists and designers, were displayed at a shopping centre in central Jakarta before being auctioned off. They raised a total of S$830,000 – the largest amount so far – for the Indonesian Cancer Foundation and the Indonesian Childhood Cancer Foundation.

During the event, Imis was introduced to Indonesian artist S Teddy Darmawan, who was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. Despite his condition, Darmawan insisted on being part of CHAIRITY and even recruited other artists for the event. He died a month after the auction.

Says Imis: “I just feel blessed and fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with renowned and established artists from all over the world. Even though they may have different perspectives on life, everyone has one common interest: to contribute to society by doing what they do best and love.

“Over the years, these collaborations have profoundly influenced my life and inspired me to continue what I’m doing.”

The next CHAIRITY event will be held in Singapore in December in aid of Rainbow Centre, a non-profit organisation for children with special needs.


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