Riuh in the City

15 September 2017

Over the past decade, Malaysia has seen a rise in arts markets, events which typically showcase the country’s independent makers and businesses on top of providing a platform for local artists and musicians. The latest to hit Kuala Lumpur is RIUH, a monthly community festival in Bangsar.

Jalan Riong is a sleepy, mostly unassuming street located a short stroll away from the hustle and bustle of its more popular cousin, Jalan Telawi. While it may not boast row after row of Instagram friendly cafes and bars, Jalan Riong is home to APW (Art Priting Works), a former letterpress factory that’s been converted into a community space boasting restaurants, cafés, coworking offices and an event space. Chief on APW’s agenda for the rest of the year is RIUH, a community festival comprising pop-up vendors, creative workshops and live performances.

“RIUH was conceived by the team as the Malaysian equivalent of similar pop-up markets such as Covent Garden in London and Finders Keepers in Sydney,” says Affendy Ali Dally, one of the co-organisers who helped conceptualise the experience.

Fresh off its inaugural edition last August, RIUH will be returning one weekend a month until December this year. “Popping up every month is important for local vendors, artists and performers to showcase their respective offerings. RIUH curates the vendors for each event, ensuring an eclectic and varied experience each time,” adds Affendy.

At the first event, the pop-ups ranged from fashion brands to homeware and artisanal soaps, drawing curious crowds of bargain hunters, young families and fashion-forward urbanites from around town. Visitors were also treated to In Bloom, a visual exhibition by artist Sharina Shahrin, and entertained by the likes of local singer-songwriter Russell Curtis, and Disko Santan, a collective of vinyl enthusiasts and DJs. Those interested in more hands-on activities could also attend art and floral workshops by Biji-biji Initiative and Flora by Liz.

A Malaysian event wouldn’t be complete without food. On top of RIUH’s line-up of food and drink pop-ups, the organisers also teamed up with Agak Agak, a modern Malaysian fusion restaurant, to launch their own version of the nasi lemak burger – complete with sambal, ayam berempah and runny telur mata sandwiched between two buns. According to founders Ili Sulaiman and Basira Yeusuff, the idea behind the dish was to “Celebrate Malaysia’s favourite dish by bringing together both flavours and people.”

With an estimated 6,500 visitors at RIUH, Affendy notes the turnout for their maiden edition exceeded expectations. Some even travelled from neighbouring states just to check out the festival.

“Most importantly, the brands and vendors were happy with the sales that they made. We treat every partner like family, so when they are happy, we are happy too,” he says.

Far from resting on their laurels, the RIUH team is all set for the next market this Malaysia Day weekend from 16-17 September. “Apart from the usual mix of homegrown retail and food stalls, we will be hosting a live wayang kulit show by Fusion Wayang Kulit, a woodcut and printmaking workshop by Rico Leong in collaboration with Reka Negaraku, and a food art showcase by Eunice Martin Lim, whom Influence Asia named Malaysia’s top food influencer for 2017,” enthuses Affendy.

If the rave reviews and happy crowds are anything to go by, the team behind RIUH proves that it is possible to host both a commercially viable event while at the same time provide a unique and exciting platform for emerging artists, entrepreneurs and musicians to showcase their products and talents.

The next RIUH event will be from 16-17 September at APW, Jalan Riong, Bangsar. Admission is free. Visit riuh.com.my for more info.

 By Erik Gan
Photos courtesy of Riuh/All is Amazing

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