Johnson & Johnson to launch new design lab in Science Park, its first outside New York

Johnson & Johnson's chief design officer Ernesto Quinteros and Singapore Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin.
Johnson & Johnson's chief design officer Ernesto Quinteros and Singapore Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson will soon unveil a new facility in Science Park that will gather all its Singapore offices into a single location.

This building, which will celebrate its grand opening in May, will also be home to the multi-national firm's first design lab outside New York.

The aim, the company's chief design officer Ernesto Quinteros told The Straits Times, is to make Singapore a "central hub of operations" for gaining insights about the Asian market.

Some key areas for research would be beauty and vision, particularly skincare and myopia.

"For us to succeed in the future, knowing that the Asia-Pacific is going to continue to blossom, we need to have that design and insights capability here in the region," Mr Quinteros said.

Singapore was chosen for the design lab because of its good infrastructure as well as its strong education system and design community.

Mr Quinteros, who is still looking for a "site leader" to helm the new design lab, was in Singapore for the Brainstorm Design conference on Tuesday (March 6), one of the highlights of this year's Singapore Design Week.

The upcoming design lab will add another function to Johnson & Johnson's 900-man Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, which already covers its businesses across consumer, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Work in the design lab will involve plenty of collaboration and idea-sharing.

"As we start to take ideas and prototype, we might see some 3D printing, we might also do partnerships with some of the education institutions here," Mr Quinteros added.

Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, the government agency helping the company expand into design in its regional headquarters in Singapore, said: "What Johnson & Johnson is doing fits in very nicely with where we are shifting the economic growth model, which is one that is going to be premised on innovation-led economic growth.

"The reason we do that is the large scale of the wants and needs of Asian customers, and quite often they are unmet because the price points can be different, the context in which the needs are expressed are different... We're hoping more companies based in Singapore will start to innovate to address these needs.

"And design is one way to interrogate what the customer wants."