Students of industrial design focus on users while pushing the boundaries

Ms Lee Si Min at the National Design Centre for the NUS School of Design and Environment showcase on May 20.
Ms Lee Si Min at the National Design Centre for the NUS School of Design and Environment showcase on May 20. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Ms Jolene Ng Jia Ying at the National Design Centre for the NUS School of Design and Environment showcase on May 20.
Ms Jolene Ng Jia Ying at the National Design Centre for the NUS School of Design and Environment showcase on May 20. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Some of the desgin work being shown at the showcase on May 20.
Some of the desgin work being shown at the showcase on May 20. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Mr Loren Lim at the National Design Centre for the NUS School of Design and Environment showcase on May 20.
Mr Loren Lim at the National Design Centre for the NUS School of Design and Environment showcase on May 20. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - A dress made of leather scraps; 3D-printed protective head gear for special needs children; a chopping board designed for those with only one arm: these are just some innovative products that university students here have come up with for a design course.

More than 50 projects by students in the Division of Industrial Design at the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment are on display from May 20 to May 24 at the National Design Centre.

For many students, this was not only a chance to showcase their year-long efforts, but also an opportunity to catch the eye of prospective employers.

Gary Lim, 26, a final year student of the programme, said: "It's a platform for us to get our products out into the market, and to show that we, as designers, can push the boundaries of what is possible."

He designed Fit+, a service which uses 3D technology to customise clothes for older people - a group that he thinks is very much neglected by the fashion industry.

Associate Professor Yen Ching Chiuan, the head of DID, said there were three main aims for holding the exhibition each year: to raise awareness of industrial design, "which is still a very niche area in Singapore"; for the students' families to understand what their children are doing in school; and for graduating students to meet potential employers.

Indeed, companies like L'oreal, Guerlain, Philips, and OCBC Bank participated in the show last year, and showed keen interest in the products.

Some of the students are already working in collaboration with corporate entities - such as biotechnology firm In Vitro Pte Ltd and PurpleThreads, Singapore's only provider of adaptive clothing for those with special needs -to develop their products. Another project, Levit8, a foldable portable standing desk, has garnered close to US$60,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

Mr Jeffrey Ho, executive director of DesignSingapore Council, was impressed by the "user-centric" nature of many of the products. He told students: "Some of the best talents in Singapore's design industry have started from where you are today...I look forward to you bringing the Singapore design brand to the world."