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SPEECH: Opening address for Singapore Design Golden Jubilee Award Ceremony

Oct 20, 2015

 

Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information at the Singapore Design Golden Jubilee Award Ceremony on 20 October 2015 at 4.05pm at the National Design Centre 

Distinguished guests 
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon, it is an honour to be among our design pioneers. 

2     We see the handiwork of our designers – past and present – in many of our iconic buildings, well-designed neighbourhoods, and home-grown designs that have been recognised all over the world. As we celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday, it is befitting for us to honour our design pioneers for their contributions to the design industry and the development of Singapore. Today, we will honour 70 pioneer designers. I am happy to hear that some are still actively involved in the design sector, contributing in their own way and inspiring our younger ones to do so as well.

Our Design Legacy 

3     In our early years of nation building, our design pioneers focused on our domestic needs – building houses, public buildings and setting up the infrastructure for our new industrialised economy. Design also contributed to early architecture projects like education and creative institutions where our young ones learn and play.

4    A good example is the works by Mr Alfred Wong. Mr Wong was known for having introduced a modernist approach to the buildings in Singapore in the 50s and 60s. More than just a successful architect, Mr Wong has been an active contributor to Singapore’s development. Besides designing education institutions like Singapore Polytechnic and St. Joseph’s Institution, Mr Wong was also a member of the Singapore Polytechnic School of Architecture. He advocated for the transfer of architectural training to the university, and it was largely due to his commitment that the NUS School of Architecture received formal recognition from Royal Institute of British Architects and Singapore Institute of Architects. For his lifelong contribution to Architecture, he was conferred the BBM (Public Service Star) in 2005. 

5     Our design pioneers also contributed to building up Singapore’s design capability, promoting design to businesses, and making our products more attractive to the local and international market. The late Mr. Sannie Abdul was instrumental in introducing design to businesses in Singapore, by setting up and heading the Industrial Design Centre and the Product & Design Centre in the late 60s. His team helped local manufacturers design better Made-in-Singapore products and promoted good design to the public. Our design pioneers also contributed to building up Singapore’s design capability, promoting design to businesses, and making our products more attractive to the local and international market. The late Mr. Sannie Abdul was instrumental in introducing design to businesses in Singapore, by setting up and heading the Industrial Design Centre and the Product & Design Centre in the late 60s. His team helped local manufacturers design better Made-in-Singapore products and promoted good design to the public. Mr Sannie Abdul spent his later years imparting his knowledge and experiences to budding designers in Nanyang Polytechnic, teaching full time for several years before passing away in August last year. 

6     As our design industry began to flourish in the late 70s and 80s, design pioneers like Ms Su Yeang put Singapore on the world map when the World Trade Organisation adopted the logo designed by her studio as their official emblem in 1997. Ms Su Yeang, whose studio also created the identities for The Esplanade and National Library Board, devoted much of her time and effort to nurture the younger generation. She was appointed to the Board of Governors for nine years and chaired the Advisory Committee for the Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Design. 

Our Design Future 

7     The Government recognises the importance of design. In March this year, I announced the setting up of a Design Masterplan Committee to chart the course of development for the design sector for the next 10 years. The committee led by Dr Beh Swan Gin has been consulting various stakeholders to understand their concerns, studying developments and identifying opportunities for growth. 

8     Capability building in the design sector will be a key focus for the Committee as it looks into ways to broaden the understanding of design and deepen the core skills of our designers. This needs to start from young, by providing more opportunities for our children to cultivate a sense of curiosity, and solve problems imaginatively. 

9     The Committee will also look into ways to encourage designers with an interest to venture beyond the traditional design disciplines, whether it is by going into related disciplines of design entrepreneurship or design research, or venturing into non-design related jobs or leadership positions. By deepening and broadening the capability of designers, we will enhance the value of design. The sector will also be in a better position to advocate for the adoption of design by other industries, which will in turn to help these industries improve their productivity and their ability to respond to their customers. 

10     I look forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations early next year. I urge our industry professionals, academic experts as well as community leaders to give the Committee your suggestions, feedback and support. Let us work together to elevate Singapore design to even greater heights. 

Conclusion 

11     Singapore would not be the beautiful home and city today without the contributions of our pioneer designers and architects. Thank you very much for all that you have done for Singapore, and here is wishing you many more years of good health.

Written on : 20 Oct 2015

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