Designed on Surface: Reigniting the spark in Asia’s creatives

For many creative professionals, Microsoft Surface is a revelation. Find out how the Windows hybrid device has opened new doors for these individuals and sparked new ideas in their creative journey.


For fashionistas and trend watchers, MAX.TAN is a label that they would not be unfamiliar with. Known for its androgynal tailoring which explores the concept of conflict, Singapore-based designer Max Tan’s eponymous collections have been showcased globally, including being the first Asia-based label to be invited to Modefabriek, the prestigious fashion trade event in Amsterdam.

Although many artists and designers see isolation as a spark for their creativity, Tan emphasizes collaboration with his fellow teammates. A part of his creative process is the Look, See, Feel storyboarding exercise, where he and his teammates scrapbook visual references from various sources to help find inspiration for the theme of their next collection.

Previously, this was accomplished via physically cutting and pasting pieces of content into bulky scrapbooks and storyboards. It also required the entire team to be present in Max’s workshop so brainstorms and discussions could be carried out with the scrapbooks spread in front of them. It was time-consuming and inefficient, to say the least.

This is why Microsoft Surface has proven to be the perfect device for Max’s team.  “I like how the Surface is so thin and light that I can just pass it around the room for my team to contribute their ideas,” shared Tan in a Q&A interview earlier in 2016.

At the Singapore Fashion Week presentation, Max Tan incorporated the Surface Pro 4 devices in his runway for a multi-sensory presentation to more than 200 fashion insiders and industry players.

A Mobile Creative Studio

All around Asia, creative professionals like Max are rekindling their artistic fire with the power of Surface – a hybrid Windows device that offers more power and flexibility than your conventional laptop or tablet. It is nothing less than a fully mobile creative studio that empowers creatives regardless of where inspiration strikes.

Within weeks of melding Surface Pro 4 into his workflow, Tan has already digitized the bulk of his past notes and sketches, enabling him to review all his previous works and inspirations and incorporate them into new ideas. Plus, his team is no longer tied to any physical locations to be creative, and gone are the days of bulky sketch pads and scrapbooks.

An important feature behind the Surface’s success is Surface Pen, which has dramatically evolved the way creatives approach their design process.

Claire Tregoning and Pip Edwards from Australia’s P.E. Nation, for example, sets aside a “sketch day” is each week where they relentlessly sketch on their Surface to validate ideas and sign off on what eventually goes to sample production.

Watch how Australia’s P.E. Nation prep their show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, with the help of the Microsoft Surface


The Pen breaks down the traditional barriers between pen-and-paper and digital input, empowering creatives to produce a seamless flow of ideas from conceptualization to visualization through one single touch point.

They can now sketch, write, and erase naturally on the Surface as they would on a writing pad without visible lag. And with the Surface Pen Tip Kit, designers can have their choice of writing feel – whether it’s a familiar #2 pencil, or a Ballpoint Pen tip for more precision.

The freedom to create and collaborate

When inspiration strikes, it can be hair raising. Redken’s Richard Kavanagh, who was a hair director at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, took to Surface to sketch his ideas and collaborate with fashion designers and stylists in order to share his ideas of hair designs for the runway.


“Surface Pro 4 is amazing for my workflow with creative clients. It allows me to pull down pictures from the Internet, edit them, put them in a folder and then all my edits are saved into the cloud so that I can access them on my device, anywhere, anytime,” said Kavanagh.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, released in August 2016, features the new Windows Ink Workspace that makes inking experiences with Surface Pen a breeze. And with features such as Screen Sketch, team members can now express and collaborate more easily through mark-ups and sketches.

Beyond the ability to ink naturally, Microsoft Surface packs a punch with modern Intel® Core™ processors, which is perfect for creatives who need the processing power to run resource intensive software and apps such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. In addition, Surface devices offer long battery life on a single charge[1], which makes the device an even more compelling device to bring around town.

A Surface for Every Creative

Every creative individual is different, so too are their expectations from the technology they use. No matter the requirement, there’s a Surface for every creative professional:

  • Surface Pro 4 is the perfect mobile creative studio for individuals who are seeking a light but powerful device. Weighing approximately 1 kilogram (with the Type Cover), the device fits nicely into any portfolio bag and is breeze to bring around town. Beneath the Surface, the device is powered by Intel® Core™ processors and up to 1TB of lightning fast SSD storage to support graphics intensive files and apps. To cater to every taste and palette, a myriad of colors is also available for Surface Pro Type Cover, including the bespoke Signature Type Cover* made with the luxurious Alcantara fabric.
  • Surface Book*, on the other hand, is a device built for the most extreme of processing requirement. The recently announced Surface Book with Performance Base delivers increased speed and performance and up to 16 hours of battery life – which makes it easier for designers and illustrators to render their designs in 3D. Snap the screen from the base and creators can basically sketch freely onscreen via apps such as SketchPad or OneNote.

Take a peek into the lives of creatives and designers who have reignited their design spark with the Surface:

  • TAN X Microsoft Surface for Singapore Fashion Week:

  • Beneath the Surface, a mini-series that details behind-the-scenes happenings of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2016:

  • Justina Blakeney, interior designer, who has leveraged the Surface to design Pinterest-worthy wallpapers:

For more information on Surface visit

* Available in selected markets. Please check with your local Microsoft authorized resellers for details.

[1] Battery life differs across Surface devices. Please check against model for recommended battery life

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