His Excellency Frank Grutter, Ambassador of Switzerland
Ms Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director, Economic Development Board
Ms Dawn Lim, Executive Director, DesignSingapore Council
Ms Madeleine Ho, Festival Director, Singapore Design Week 2023
Friends from the design and business community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good evening. I am delighted to be here with you for the opening ceremony of the Singapore Design Week, or SDW. It’s wonderful to have so many of our friends and industry leaders here with us.
Twentieth anniversary of DesignSingapore Council
2. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the DesignSingapore Council. DesignSingapore was set up in 2003 to champion the use of design to improve lives and empower businesses to harness the power of design as a competitive edge.
3. Since its inception, DesignSingapore has made significant strides. Beyond its goal of supporting Singapore’s economic growth through design, DesignSingapore has also spurred greater appreciation and the use of design to improve the way Singaporeans live, learn, work and play.
4. Over the years, DesignSingapore has spearheaded several meaningful initiatives. For example, its ‘Loveable Singapore’ study revealed for the first time, what makes Singapore loveable, and how we can make our city more loveable. After engaging over 2,500 participants, the study found that respondents had the strongest positive emotions towards their neighbourhoods. A loveable city can be defined by the emotional bonds we form with it. For example, the sense of inclusion, attachment or connection. Everyone, from policymakers to placemakers, companies, communities and individuals, can play a part in making Singapore more loveable.
5. Today, good design is more important than ever, especially as we tackle pressing challenges like climate change, food security and an ageing population. Let’s take a fresh look and reimagine our world through the lens of good design to unlock more opportunities for our businesses and our people. Together, we can shape a brighter future for Singapore.
Better by Design
6. It is therefore especially fitting that this year’s SDW has chosen DesignSingapore’s motto of ‘Better by Design’ as its theme. The motto reflects DesignSingapore’s commitment to championing design and creativity that helps us to face complex challenges and shape a better future.
7. To spotlight this bold and purposeful spirit of Singapore design, DesignSingapore has teamed up with local curators like Jackson Tan, co-founder and creative director of BLACK; Pann Lim, co-founder and creative director of Kinetic Singapore; and Ong Ker-Shing and Joshua Comaroff, co-founders of Lekker Architects. Together, they are breathing new life into the Bras Basah.Bugis arts, heritage and design district. We can look forward to thought-provoking installations that explore three contemporary issues – Innovation, Sustainability, and Inclusivity.
8. The first installation, Innovation, Sustainability and Inclusivity in Playground of Possibilities, showcases twelve design projects that offer innovative solutions and fresh insights into the challenges we face today. Visitors can check out the “mini” dementia-friendly public housing town. Or touch and feel what building facades of the future could be like. Imagine walls with bumps and cracks like that of elephant skins which act as a natural barrier to urban heat. Curated by Jackson Tan, you can visit and experience these installations right here at the National Design Centre.
9. The second installation, School of Tomorrow, was put together by Pann Lim and is located at the Selegie Arts Centre, a ten-minute walk from here. This exhibition brings you back to school and teaches about sustainability in a fun, immersive way. With classes on geography, chemistry, and social studies, Pann gets visitors to think about critical environmental issues such as waste, pollution and energy depletion. Visitors learn how to embrace a sustainable lifestyle. It’s also a chance to reflect on how design can be used to shape fresh ways of thinking and encourage positive actions.
10. Visitors “attending” the Chemistry class, for example, get to reimagine the classic periodic table with an exciting selection of materials that can reshape the way we live. In maths class, you can calculate your carbon footprint and find out ways to reduce it.
i. The third installation, FI&LD by Ker-Shing and Joshua is located at the LASALLE College of the Arts. The couple worked with students from LASALLE, the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture and Yale-NUS College to create an interactive exhibit that teases us with a new philosophy in inclusive design. The installation features experiential demonstrations of inclusive design in five areas: The Emotions, Fun, The Senses, Care as well as Social Life and Interaction. In addition, visitors can look forward to discovering a game that ends with only winners! Anyone can play and contribute to the quality of the game. More importantly, participants learn that the rules of the game act as principles for inclusive creative practice.
Design for Everyone
11. To top off the installations, SDW will light up the Bras Basah.Bugis district with the inaugural ‘Friday Late’ event on 22 September. It will bring the vibrant local and international creative community together to experience the captivating installations. Expect live demonstrations, a pop-up retail market and food stalls bustling till 11pm.
12. I hope you’d get a chance to explore and enjoy SDW and the line-up of activities in Orchard and Marina Bay, besides the Bras Basah.Bugis district here. Invite your friends and families along too. It’s a great opportunity for them to discover and appreciate how good design can improve lives.
13. Let me conclude by thanking and congratulating the SDW team for this fun, bold and meaningful presentation of Singapore’s brand of design. They’ve given us many reasons why Singapore is the place where constraints can be turned into possibilities, and design brings solutions for a better world.
14. Together, we are ‘Better by Design’.