New programme to help local furniture and lifestyle product designers expand overseas

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat announced the programme as he opened the Singapore Design Week 2019, which runs till March 17, 2019, at the National Design Centre. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Established local furniture and lifestyle product designers looking to expand beyond Singapore can now apply for DesignSingapore Council's (DSG's) new Business of Design (BOD) programme.

The programme aims to help up to six established brands - with the potential to go international - grow their business and boost their global competitiveness through mentorship by industry experts.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat announced the programme on Monday (March 4) at the National Design Centre where he officially opened Singapore Design Week 2019, which runs till March 17.

The first run of the targeted BOD programme will focus on the furniture and lifestyle product sector and run over two years. Future editions will be expanded to include designers from other sectors.

Mr Chee said: "With increasing industry demand for design, the role of designers will expand. Hence, our design education and talent development programme must adapt to help our designers tackle more complex challenges in the future."

The targeted programme will culminate in a themed collective showcase in 2020 at an international platform that has yet to be decided, which will then travel to other platforms such as Milan Design Week and be presented in retail pop-ups in cities such as Shanghai.

Interested applicants who meet the criteria can e-mail by March 22, 5pm. Shortlisted applicants will be notified via e-mail by April 15 and will go through a final round of selection.

DSG was established in 2003 to help develop the design sector in Singapore. It will officially be part of the Economic Development Board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry from April.

A study by DSG found that the proportion of companies willing to give more priority to design grew to 32 per cent in 2016, up from 12 per cent in 2014.

Mr Chee said he is heartened to see a growing number of companies adopting design as part of their business strategy.

"Design can also improve service and user experience across industries and a differentiated user experience will become more important in an increasingly competitive business environment," he said.

Later this year, the Design Education Review Committee, which aims to develop a workforce that uses design across disciplines, will be announcing their key recommendations, said Mr Chee.

Mr Mark Wee, executive director of DesignSingapore Council said: "Design can help shape more desirable products and services, and there is now concrete evidence that businesses that invest in design actually outperform others."

Mr Tony Chambers, who co-chairs design conference Brainstorm Design at Singapore Design Week 2019, said: "Until recently, design was thought by companies to be about pretty colours.

"But look at Apple, it's a highly successful design-led company and it's been a real catalyst, making more businesses sit up and think, OK we need a piece of this."

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