Artful use of design

The development and use of good design have been a major focus in various sectors across Singapore. We highlight a few examples.

Creative buds

As part of initiatives to nurture curiosity and excitement about design from a young age, pre-school children in Singapore will participate in Many Ways of Seeing, a series of sensory-based workshops on perception and design funded by the DesignSingapore Council.

The national Early Childhood Development Agency adopted the programme in 2014 and will implement it in pre-schools. Primary and lower secondary school students go through compulsory art education.

Scholarships, including the DesignSingapore Scholarship, are also available to those who want to embark on careers relating to design.

In addition, Singapore's polytechnics and universities offer a wide variety of design courses. The School of the Arts (Sota) has a six-year integrated arts and academic curriculum leading to the International Baccalaureate.

Continuous design

The Design Thinking & Innovation Academy, established in 2010 by the DesignSingapore Council, trains design professionals and teaches businesses why good design makes good business sense.

Design-related industry associations also have specialised training academies for professionals.

The Asian Insights & Design Innovation unit, established by the DesignSingapore Council, conducts research on Asian consumer markets, socio-cultural trends and design innovation, to enable Singapore-based creators and enterprises to expand into Asian markets.

In the public sector, the Human Experience Lab, established in the Public Service Division of the Prime Minister's Office, is a multi-disciplinary team that helps ministries and government agencies use design to make public policies and services more human-centric.

Creative spaces

The National Design Centre, established in March 2013, houses the DesignSingapore Council and secretariat offices of design associations.

Its facilities include a technology and media lab, workshop spaces and prototyping facilities. It regularly hosts exhibitions, training programmes, talks and conferences, and offers a cafe and retail space. The centre is open to the design community as well as the public.

The city-state is also home to the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore, one of Asia's largest design museums. Meanwhile, the Japan Creative Centre, established by the Japanese government, is the first of its kind in the world to promote Japanese culture, technology and creativity.

Community design

Design is often harnessed to address social issues in Singapore, including its ageing society.

The DesignSingapore Council has collaborated with public health agencies, the Ministry of Health and healthcare providers to conduct research into design for health and wellness for the elderly, and to look at how new products can cater to emerging needs.

Participate in Design, a non-profit community organisation dedicated to social inclusiveness through design, has involved MacPherson residents in The Upcycle Project, where they create useful objects from existing resources.

An unwanted bed frame, shoe rack and cabinet, for example, were turned into a clothes rack-cum-storage unit for one needy family.

The Lien Foundation, a philanthropic organisation, has initiated the Happy Coffins design project, which has designers and the creative community co-designing coffins for elderly residents of nursing homes and hospices to help counter the stigma and fear of death.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Artful use of design'. Print Edition | Subscribe