Amplifying the value of technology through design

Nov 11, 2011

The DesignSingapore Council International Advisory Panel defines the value of bringing design and technology together to power imagination and innovation 

Concluding the seventh annual meeting of the DesignSingapore Council International Advisory Panel (IAP), the members put forward suggestions to use Design to harness new opportunities presented by rapid advances in digital technology. The panel, chaired by Mr. Edmund Cheng, comprises renowned international design and business leaders from Australia, the United States, Europe and Japan. (See Appendix I for IAP members’ profiles) 

2. During their time here, the Panel visited an Interactive Digital Media (IDM) research centre, and also met researchers and developers from other research institutions and companies. This gave them an overview of the challenges for technology innovators in Singapore, setting the context for them to explore how Design can make a significant difference. By using Design as a differentiator, Singapore enterprises will also be able to change the shape of the growth curve with a better understanding of the user experience. 

3. “Singapore business needs to be agile and flexible in order to take advantage of the investments in infocomm and media infrastructure,” said Mr. Cheng. “The Design process can help businesses better understand the new global consumer and how we can tailor a user experience that will create a competitive advantage for Singapore through game-changing innovation.” 

4. The panel made some key observations that looked at better addressing economic challenges. Mr. Richard Seymour, Co-founder, Seymourpowell, concluded that there is “A Convenient Truth, where globally we’re not being held back by technology, but by our imagination. Singapore’s opportunity is to bring human needs and desires to technological innovation through design.” 

5. Mr. Chris Bangle, Managing Director, Chris Bangle Associates Srl, elaborated, “Design is often misunderstood, especially in a business and technology context. The process should be referred to as ‘Designing’ because it is an interactive process that when applied at the outset of ideation, catalyses the adoption of technological innovation and acts as an economic multiplier.” 

6. The IAP proposed the definition of ‘Designing’: 

A process which melds human needs and desires with industrial and technological capability, to create new and meaningful products, services and experiences. 

7. To demonstrate the relevance of ‘Designing’ to the technology, business and design communities, the Panel suggested that Singapore develop a global initiative, driven by international thought leaders from multiple disciplines to explore how Design has been integral to the success of some of the world’s most popular technology products. This platform would also clearly articulate Singapore’s ambition to focus on the global imperative to zoom in on human needs as a core principle of Designing and how products can be made more human and desirable. 

8. Mr. Hael Kobayashi, Associate Director, Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC), University of Technology Sydney, said, “To encourage design and technology entrepreneurs to reach out beyond their disciplines more readily, Singapore has the opportunity to take the strategic lead in facilitating partnerships between these dynamic groups by producing a forum where ideas and prototypes can be explored and implemented.” 

9. The IAP also discussed the need for an infusion of global ideas and talent to work on projects germinated in Singapore. This could be supported by configuring a funding model, which could become self-sustaining; that would enable better idea generation through to product realisation with the addition of design at the outset of the process. To that end, the Panel outlined a process for the DesignSingapore Council to explore, labelled the Vision Engine: Fuelling Imagination and Innovation

10. “There are three distinct steps to the Vision Engine which will reward ideas through collaboration. By providing micro-grants to foster ideas, as opposed to fully-formed prototypes, we can instantly amplify and accelerate innovation where technology and design are working hand-in-hand,” said Mr. Dick Powell, Co-founder, Seymourpowell. “We are taking away the fear of failure by configuring the funding system to be used to generate ideas, not business plans.” 

11. Ideas that show a potential to leverage the Designing process to improve the user experience, could then be further funded in a lab environment. Should they make it to a prototype stage, there is the possibility to showcase the ideas internationally for venture capital funding. Additionally, this could be a way of attracting design and technology innovators from around the world to come to Singapore to develop new products. 

12. Singapore’s multi-cultural background is also a key advantage and a good resource. Mr. Toshiyuki Kita, Product Designer, Studio Toshiyuki KITA explained, “Singapore is well-placed to act as a global Microcosm that extends the government’s living lab concept by providing a reality-testing environment with superior, faster and more accurate development.” 

13. He added, “There is an opportunity for Singapore to share design insights with the wider global community and this will not only encourage great collaboration but also focus more attention on this global design city.” 

14. DesignSingapore will review these proposals in further depth and work with sister Government agencies and parties in the private sector to test the feasibility of these plans and explore bringing these programmes to life. 


11 November 2011 

Media Contacts 

1. Frances Kong / Adrian Heok 
DesignSingapore Council Ministry of Information, Communications & the Arts Email: / 
T +65 6837 9314 / +65 6837 9634 
F +65 6837 9686 140 Hill Street 5th Storey MICA Building Singapore 179369 

2. Cindy Lim 
T +65 6733 1110 / +65 9828 6959 
[For media queries related to this release] 

About DesignSingapore Council 

The mission of the DesignSingapore Council is to develop Singapore into a global city for design where design innovation drives economic growth and enhances the quality of life. DesignSingapore promotes and develops the design industries as a creative cluster, encourages the adoption of design by enterprises and nurtures a climate of co-creation and innovation through design. 

The DesignSingapore Council is the national agency for design and is a part of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. 

More information about the Council is available at 


• Mr. Edmund Cheng (Chairman) 

• Ms. Paola Antonelli 

• Mr. Christopher Bangle 

• Mr. Toshiyuki Kita 

• Mr. Hael Kobayashi 

• Mr. Dick Powell 

• Prof. Richard Seymour 

Mr. Edmund Cheng 
Deputy Chairman 
Wing Tai Holdings Limited 

Mr Cheng is Chairman of the National Arts Council and the DesignSingapore International Advisory Panel, where he is keenly involved in driving the national creative and design impetus, to promote an innovative arts and business enterprise environment, and to enhance the quality of life in Singapore. Mr Cheng also chairs the Singapore-listed SATS Limited and Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd. He is also on the board of Nanyang Technological University’s Board of Trustee, and serves as a member of the International Council for the Asia Society. 

As Deputy Chairman of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, Mr Cheng is concurrently Managing Director of Wing Tai Land Pte Ltd and Executive Director of Wing Tai Malaysia Berhad. Under his leadership, Wing Tai is reputed for an extensive portfolio of contemporary developments across Asia with the world’s leading architects, winning top awards for its quality, innovative projects. 

Mr Cheng’s public service included chairmanship of the Singapore Tourism Board (1993-2001), The Old Parliament House Limited (2002-2006), DesignSingapore Council (2003-2008) as Founding Chairman, and The Esplanade Co Ltd (2003-2005) where he is now a Member. He sat on the board of the Construction Industry Development Board (1992-1994), Urban Redevelopment Authority (1991-1994) and Singapore Airlines Limited (1996-2004). From 1991-1993, he was President of Redas (Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore) and now serves as a Member on its Presidential Council. 

For his eminent contribution and public service, Mr Cheng was awarded the Public Service Star (BAR) in 2010 and the Public Service Star (BBM) in 1999 by the Singapore Government. He also received the Outstanding Contributor to Tourism Award from the President of Singapore in 2002. In March 2009, he was conferred Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France. 

Mr Cheng graduated from Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University in USA, with a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and a Master’s in Architecture, respectively. 

Ms. Paola Antonelli 
Senior Curator 
The Museum of Modern Art, New York 

Paola Antonelli joined The Museum of Modern Art in 1994 and is a Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design. Her first exhibition for MoMA, Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design (1995), was followed by Thresholds: Contemporary Design from the Netherlands (1996), Achille Castiglioni: Design! (1997-98), and Projects 66: Campana/Ingo Maurer (1999), Open Ends and Matter (September 2000–February 2001), Workspheres (February-April, 2001), Humble Masterpieces (July-September, 2004), SAFE: Design Takes On Risk (October 2005-January 2006), and Design and the Elastic Mind, an exhibition on science, design, and innovation, (February-May, 2008), and Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects (July–November 2011). 

Paola Antonelli has lectured worldwide in settings ranging from peer conferences to global interdisciplinary gatherings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, and she has served on several international architecture and design juries. From 1991 to 1993, she was a Lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has in the past few years also taught design history and theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and at the MFA program of the School of Visual Arts in New York. 

The recipient of a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Polytechnic of Milan in 1990, Paola Antonelli has curated several architecture and design exhibitions in Italy, France and Japan. She is a Senior Fellow with the Royal College of Art, London and received an Honorary Doctorate in Design from Kingston University, London. Paola earned the Lucky Strike Design Award in 2010, the “Design Mind” Smithsonian Institution’s National Design Award in October 2006, and in 2007, she was named one of the 25 most incisive design visionaries by Time magazine. 

A Contributing Editor for Domus magazine (1987-91) and an editor of Abitare (1992-94), Paola Antonelli is also the author of many exhibition catalogues, including Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects (2011); Design and the Elastic Mind (2008); Objects of Design (2003), a book dedicated to design objects in the Museum’s collection; and the publication Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design (2005), which highlights how good design facilitates and enriches our daily life. 

Paola Antonelli’s goal is to insistently promote design’s understanding, until its positive influence on the world is fully acknowledged and exploited. She is currently working on several shows on contemporary design, on Design Bites, a book about foods from all over the world appreciated as examples of outstanding design; and on trying to get a Boeing 747 into the collection of The Museum of Modern Art. 

Mr. Christopher Bangle 
Managing Director 
Chris Bangle Associates 

"Bangle is arguably the most influential auto designer of his generation." Phil Patton, New York Times, February 20, 2006. 

One only needs to look down the street for evidence of Chris Bangle's ingenuity and far-reaching influence. 

A daring designer whose work has provoked endless discussion, Bangle is best known for his tenure as Chief of Design for the BMW group, where he was responsible for bringing the designs of the BMW, Mini Cooper, and Rolls Royce into the twenty-first century. 

Graduating from the Art Center College of Design, Bangle began his career at Opel, and then moved on to Fiat, where he designed the brazen Coupe Fiat. In 1992, he was named the first American Chief of Design at BMW. 

No other designer has had such a far reaching impact in the automotive industry. His mandate to "strategize emotion" through design has energized the typically conservative brand, updating BMW's classic design with bold, sculptural lines, a far cry from homogenous car design. As a result, his daring designs have helped BMW become the global leader in premium car sales and brought in legions of new fans, spurning rivals to follow suit in emulating his distinctive style. 

During his time at BMW, he introduced GINA, an experimental concept roadster that seeks to replace a vehicle’s static metal or fiberglass skin with a one of fabric that can change the shape and aerodynamics of the car. 

After pushing car design language to its limits for twenty-eight years, Bangle announced his departure on February 3, 2009 from the auto industry. He looks forward to pursuing his own design-related endeavors from his studio in Italy, focusing on new ideas and cutting-edge innovation. 

Mr. Toshiyuki Kita 
Product Designer 
StudioToshiyuki KITA 

Toshiyuki Kita began his career in Japan and Milan, Italy in 1969. He has produced numerous best selling products for Italian, German and Japanese manufacturers, including the recent LCD TV and home robot hit products. 

Many of his works are part of the permanent collections of several Museums in the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. 

Toshiyuki Kita is also involved with traditional craft design, promoting local industries in his role as a creative director. One of his books titled “Local Industry + Design” was published recently. 

He holds prominent positions such as the Chairman of the Japan Good Design Awards (2004-2006), the Chairperson of the jury of China Red Star Design Award (2006-2008), guest professor at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, the design adviser of Singapore and Thai government and Professor of the Osaka University of Arts. He was awarded a prize carriera internazionale of Compasso d'Oro in July 2011 in Italy. 

Mr. Hael Kobayashi 
Associate Director 
Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC) 
University of Technology Sydney 

Hael Kobayashi is an international and award winning executive with over 30 years experience in the creative industries, including film, digital and new media, broadcast, and the visual and performing arts. As Associate Director of the CIIC, Hael is currently developing the creative industries strategy for UTS, across research, teaching and learning, and external engagement. 

An early adopter in the ascending field of digital media, Hael has held roles as senior executive and producer for several of the world’s leading film and entertainment studios. He was the Executive for Production Strategy at Omnilab Media Group, Australia and New Zealand’s largest, independently owned, vertically integrated media company. Prior to this, Hael was the Group Head of Production and Associate Producer on the Oscar winning, digitally animated feature film, “Happy Feet” for Australia’s Animal Logic. 

Previously, Hael was the Director of Digital Artists Production for Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light + Magic from 2000 - 2003. He was responsible for the management of digital artists and operations in creature development, animation and visual effects for numerous Academy Award nominated, and winning, films. A member of senior staff, Hael was in the core team charged with designing Lucasfilm’s business strategy. Hael held several production management roles at DreamWorks Animation, and was the Entertainment and Science Bureau Chief for MSNBC/ZDTV, which pioneered integrated online communication with simultaneous broadcast. 

Within the digital games industry, Hael was a producer for Raya Systems’ “Health Heroes”, overseeing business development, art direction, and international marketing. The games were designed to teach young people health awareness and prevention, and were endorsed by the American Paediatrics Association. 

A dedicated advocate and champion for digital media development and education, Hael is the co-founder of the Presidential Scholars in the Arts’ film and video program for the Young Arts Foundation, USA. He has lectured widely on the disciplines of digital visual effects and animation for university programs and conferences in Australia, Canada, the USA, and the UK. In addition, Hael chaired the Education Panel for the 2002 Australian Effects and Animation Festival. 

Since 2003, Hael has been a member of leadership teams working with economic development groups, area planners, leaders in education and other sector representatives to create strategies for developing digital and emerging media as part of sustainable, economic growth in several regions of the world, including Australia, the USA, and Singapore. He was a member of the federal and state task forces of Australia’s Digital Content Industry Action Agenda. He was appointed Creative Director by the Singapore government for the ICSID 2009 World Congress, which focused on designing a better world by 2050. 

In the innovation space, Hael is a member of the international jury and senior advisor for INDEX: Design to Improve Life, the government sponsored non-profit organisation based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Further details: Hael was the senior creative advisor for Melbourne’s 2010 State of Design Festival, and a raconteur for Brisbane’s Unlimited 2010: Asia Pacific. He moderated the interactive and multi media track for the Hong Kong Business of Design Week 2010. 

Hael convened the creative industries group for the NSW Premier’s Business, University and Government Forum, and addressed the national forum on the future of design innovation in Australia in September, 2010. Hael chairs the Digital Sydney initiative for the NSW Department of Trade, Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services. 

Mr. Dick Powell 

Mr Dick Powell is co-founder of internationally renowned design and innovation company Seymourpowell. 

Mr Powell is the current chairman of D&AD, and has twice been president of D&AD. As Chairman, Mr Powell is a mentor to the team at D&AD and strives to call on the government and business leaders to recognise the value of embedding design and creativity into the DNA of British businesses. 

Mr Powell has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes alongside business partner Mr Richard Seymour, and has sat on the boards of the Design Council, the Design Business Association and the D&AD Executive. Mr Powell was global design advisor to Samsung Electronics and is currently a member of the International Advisory Panel for Design in Singapore. He also holds the role of group creative director at Loewy, Seymourpowell’s parent company. 

Founded in 1984, Seymourpowell has produced some of the ‘milestone’ products of the last two decades. The company’s design innovation work ranges from consumer appliances, electronics and mobile phones, to transportation - including cars, motorcycles, trains and planes. The company has risen to a commanding position on the international stage, with clients as diverse as Unilever, Panasonic, Tefal, LG, Nestle and Diageo. Recent highlights include concept design work for the Virgin Galactic spacecraft as well as a concept design for Samsung Construction and Trading called Aircruise – a giant, vertical airship powered by natural energy and designed to carry travelers in style and luxury. Other specialism include ethnographic user research, strategy and new product development (NPD), trends and forecasting, product design and development, and 3D structural design and 2D graphic design. 

Using Seymourpowell’s wide-angled approach, fuelled by parallel knowledge and experience, the company also works with large FMCG companies to re-engineer the fragmented and misunderstood innovation process. 

Prof. Richard Seymour 

Richard Seymour is co-founder of the internationally renowned design and innovation company, Seymourpowell. 

As one of Europe’s best known, and most accomplished designers, Richard Seymour’s career spans more than 30 years and a huge range of creative disciplines. During this period, he has become a global champion for design-led innovation, picking up numerous awards along the way, including the D&AD Award for Outstanding Contribution to Design, the FX Lifetime Achievement Award and the Senior Fellowship of the Royal College of Art. 

Initially trained as a graphic designer and illustrator, Richard moved quickly through advertising and film production design, before setting up Seymourpowell, with Dick Powell, in 1984. 

Since then, the consultancy has risen to the forefront of product and Innovation design, with a string of world-firsts amongst its achievements, including designs for the world’s first cordless kettle, pocket mobile phone and privateer spaceship for Virgin. 

More and more of his time now is spent helping large international companies understand what lies before them in the future, and finding ways to ‘rewire’ them to better face these challenges. 

He is a formidable public speaker, creative director (a role he undertakes for several of Unilever’s global brands), futurist, foody and occasional musician.

Written on : 11 Nov 2011

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