* DESIGNER OF
THE YEAR 2012

Voon Wong

Director
VW+BS

DISCIPLINE
Product & Industrial Design
Interior Design

CONTACT
info@vwbs.co.uk

Voon Wong was born in Singapore in 1963. He attended the National University of Singapore as a student in the Department of Architecture, and the Architectural Association in London. He has worked with some of the United Kingdom’s leading architectural practices, and tutored at the University of North London. He has also gained significant commercial experience working in Singapore.

During the years 1990 to 1991, 1994 and 1995, Mr Wong worked as an architectural assistant at Zaha Hadid Architects. During that time, he was recruited to be part of the competition team assigned to work on the winning design for the Cardiff Opera House. Unfortunately, the building was never built.

Between the years 1995 to 1997, Mr Wong established VX Designs with Ian Chee. Their works included several new high-end buildings and refurbishments of residential projects in London. Thereafter, Voon Wong Architects was formed with an emphasis on exclusive residential and commercial work.

Past projects include the redevelopment of numerous historic residential buildings in London, a hotel extension in Australia, house and apartment fit-outs in Singapore and China, a residential complex and an industrial building in China, as well as set designs for the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, and the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

The practice is currently working on residential and commercial projects in London and Singapore. Mr Wong was involved in award-winning product design alongside Malaysian designer Benson Saw. Together, they won the OXO Peugeot Design Award for lighting for their series of lamps fitted with electro-luminescent wire. Mr Wong’s most recent project on Virgin Atlantic’s cabin design integrated the various disciplines of his expertise in product, lightning and interior design. The project was well received and has been featured in online and print magazines like Designboom, Wallpaper* and The Business Times.

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‘‘Love what you do. See the world through the eyes of a child. Find your own voice. Burn the midnight oil. Keep your eyes open and ears to the ground. Look before you leap and practise, practise, practise.’’

Insights from the Recipient

What does it mean to practise as a designer in Singapore?

Singapore is a hub for the Asian region, and a designer in Singapore is very likely to work internationally. Otherwise, it's the same game as elsewhere: an ongoing dialogue to convince your clients to take a risk.

How has Singapore's design industry evolved over the past decade or, indeed, since you started practising?

The indsutry has been developing so quickly over recent years that it is completely unrecognisable from when I started work as an architect in Singapore in the early 1990s. Today, it is a thriving scene, well-established, and attracting international interest. Not surprisingly, we are still looking outwards for our inspiration, but that is the same everywhere simply because we all work in a global industry.

What is the responsibility of a designer to the community or society?

The responsibility is twofold: one, to design with longevity in mind, and two, to imagine ideas beyond your client's expectations. I want to see design in Singapore move ever forward.

Citation

‘‘Love what you do. See the world through the eyes of a child. Find your own voice. Burn the midnight oil. Keep your eyes open and ears to the ground. Look before you leap and practise, practise, practise.’’

Jury Citation

Voon Wong has built a global reputation and a comprehensive collection of great design works, which is widely recognised by his peers.

He is a multi-disciplinary designer who displays consistency in his work, which covers a wide spectrum of products, architecture, interiors and, more recently, aircraft interiors. He consistently demonstrates a deep thought process in his work, blending consultancy with the creation of his own products, and exploring material possibilities in new and surprising ways.

The Jury was particularly impressed by Voon’s venture into the difficult area of aircraft interiors, where the complexities of weight reduction, structure, and space utilisation in an environment that presents complex functional needs, is a notorious challenge for designers. His solution for Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Bar and Cabin captures the spirit and vibrancy of their brand, presenting passengers with an iconic and impressive welcome as they board the aircraft, and a memorable in-flight experience.

VIEW JURORS

Nominator Citation

IAN MACREADY
DIRECTOR
VW+BS

Voon has been an important part of the wider design community and has been a part of numerous award committees. He has also spoken widely at international conferences and seminars to promote both his manifesto for design as well as design emerging from Singapore. Each of the projects he undertakes is carefully researched, detailed and executed. Whether an item of small silver tableware a large private building or an airline cabin interior, the process is the same: extensive consideration of materials, context and function. It is the differing scales of each project that inform his work. The investigation into material for creating small objects is carried through to the larger scale of creating volumes within an architectural space. It is both the breadth and quality of work that makes Voon a worthy nominee for the Designer of the Year award.

OTHER RECIPIENTS