Scheme to help furniture and lifestyle product designers go global

A visitor at an interactive installation at SingaPlural, a design exhibition that is part of Singapore Design Week 2019.
A visitor at an interactive installation at SingaPlural, a design exhibition that is part of Singapore Design Week 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

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

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

Applicants can e-mail bod@ by March 22, 5pm. Shortlisted applicants will be notified via e-mail by April 15 and go through a final round of selection.


DSG was established in 2003 to help develop Singapore's design sector. 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.

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

Mr Mark Wee, executive director of DSG, 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, okay, we need a piece of this."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Scheme to help furniture and lifestyle product designers go global'. Subscribe