Q: Why did you apply for the SFSA for Design? How has it benefitted you?
I found myself with quite a bit of free time earlier this year as social distancing measures were implemented. I first came to know about the award through the DesignSingapore Council’s newsletter and thought it would be a great opportunity to take the time to learn more about the theories, application and case studies of design and innovation outside of my professional field.
I am currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation & Design Thinking which is a 10 months self-paced learning course for working professionals. It has been fulfilling to learn about the various design and innovation methods from top university lecturers and applying it to solve real problems with a group of participants from different backgrounds (all done virtually!). In fact, the virtual learning and interaction made my ‘work-from-home’ days in 2020 much more bearable. More importantly, I felt that being a student and a business design professional at the same time allowed me to pick up knowledge that I could then apply in my daily job and this helps me to better advocate for design in a business setting.
Q: What inspired you to embark on a career in design?
A few years ago, I decided to move overseas and I spent my time working and travelling. As I explored cities and spaces and interacted with people of different backgrounds, a simple question of “Why” usually led me to discover interesting stories and reasons behind how people live, work and play. Why do some cities have metro cable cars as a mode of transport? Why are buildings constructed the way they are? Why do people’s values and mindsets differ within cities and across countries? This revived sense of curiosity prompted me to reconsider my line of work. I feel that we are living in times which the asynchronized pace of change between business, technology and people often leads to complex problems and undiscovered opportunities and we need to look beyond standard approaches to take us forward. I wanted my professional career to be a space where I could combine my curiosity with new methods of solving new problems, and design felt like the place to be.
Q: What do you think has changed since you started on your career in design?
My idea of design has definitely evolved ever since I started my role as a Business Designer. Borrowing a quote from an author, Adam Judge, “The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” Design is often associated with art, architecture and how things look and feel. But it’s also in the processes in our daily lives, the products and services we encounter which all contribute to our experiences. I am more mindful and appreciative of businesses who place emphasis on understanding their consumers and differentiating their consumer experience with design.
Examples of good design and delightful experiences are so embedded in our lives that more often than not, we take them for granted because it actually works and that's the magic of it. An example of good design that I came across during my travels in Colombia is Medellin's metro cable car system that connects people of lower income groups who live in the outskirts of the city centre to the public transport system. Because of the increased mobility and investment in education and community programmes, employment increased, and crime decreased in areas that had escalated levels of poverty and violence. To me, this shows that good design does not always have to be about creating new technology or products, it could very well be combining and applying existing technology (in this case gondola technology) in different ways that addresses the root cause or unmet needs of the end users.