Design for Life

Let’s face it. Singaporeans generally care about “design” as much as they do, say, foie gras, in their everyday meals. After all, “design” is generally still seen as something of a luxury, and only associated with those who actually have the means to care about it. But following last year’s mammoth design conference DesignEdge and the inaugural Creative 2005 series of events that features talks and seminars focusing on the relevance of design in contemporary Singapore, DesignSingapore Council (the design arm of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts), recently launched the design campaign “10TouchPoints” to bring design to the everyday folk. By bringing the public, designers and service providers together to collaborate in a process of redesigning everyday items or services in the public realm through its web component, what DesignSingapore Council hopes to achieve is that Singaporeans will finally play an active part and make a conscious effort to have a say about anything and everything about design.
Touch of a Button
To get an estimated two million Singaporeans to actually participate in the campaign, DesignSingapore Council hopes the website will act as a user friendly voice box of sorts for opinions from the grassroots level. Simply log on now till Jan 11, 2007 and nominate what you think needs to be redesigned. “The concept of design is still not very well understood in Singapore, and that’s where ‘10TouchPoints’ comes in,” says DesignSingapore Council’s Director Milton Tan. “We plan to bring design to a broader level…and get the public, designers and major organizations to collaborate on ideas on how they can make change and be part of the growing design scene here.”
“10TouchPoints” is, simply put, the easiest way for the public to advocate change in design—ever thought of a an overhead bridge that is as eye-catching as it is functional, or more contemporary looking public toilets in shopping malls or MRT stations? Now’s the time to do (and say) something about it. As echoed by Richard Hassell, chief architect at architectural firm WOHA, “I think the ‘10TouchPoints’ program is an excellent concept, as it will give people the power to improve their own daily environment in a very direct way,” he says. “Often end-users do have very good ideas for improvements, but there is no obvious place for them to give feedback—the design and procurement process for part of the urban environment like a street light or public footpath is quite mysterious to the man on the street. I am sure there will be a huge response to this brilliant program from the public, and it will be very exciting to see real improvements happen as a result.”
Drawn Up
And more than just a public forum of sorts, “10TouchPoints” should also be lapped up by established and aspiring designers. After nominations end Jan 11, the Top 10’s most-voted items or spots (hence, 10 touch points), will be announced by the DesignSingapore Council’s. A call out will be made to designers who wish to take part in the redesign process that will get them to be in touch with users as well as item owners. “We’re hoping to see younger designers getting involved and participating in “10TouchPoints” as part of our vision is to get more people to carve themselves a career a design,” says DesignSingapore’s Milton Tan. “We want them to be enthusiastic…and to challenge conventional solutions, and to come up with ideas that can improve our lives and raise the state of affairs. The younger generation, especially those who have traveled the world and have access to culture and knowledge far from our shores have a greater interest and are more passionate in design,” he adds.
From Jan 25, 2007 onwards for two months, designers can submit their ideas and designs in both the “Students” and “Professional” categories, where they will be judged by selected local designers, item owners and community representatives who will also act as advisors and spokesmen. Such interactivity and filtering of the best ideas will not only aspire designers to come up with for more effective (and more experimental, one hopes) designs, but will also set those designs apart from existing facelift or upgrading projects. So log on now and nominate something, anything. Who knows? Your vision of actually seeing more advanced designs and items might actually come true.