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Outdoor furniture Brickworks by Rodney Loh
Rodney Loh
Digital Chair, which moulds to the curves of the human form, by Zhang Zhoujie
Zhang Zhoujie
From Masayo Ave's class on Many Ways of Seeing
Masayo Ave

Design as an intrinsic part of life

BT Lifestyle meets three designers who will be taking part in Singapore Design Week
Feb 27, 2015 5:50 AM

Who: Rodney Loh Jun Kern

Participating in SingaPlural 2015

As the design director of NextOfKin Creatives, Rodney Loh believes design awareness is an important skillset in day-to-day life.

The man with award-winning designs under his belt, such as the Sennheiser CX earphones, hopes that, with his participation in SingaPlural 2015, he can make design more personal by infusing it with local culture and context. For example, he has created outdoor furniture from engineered wood by timber company Samko, inspired by his memory of his visits to ABC Brickworks market in his younger days.

"I used to think that the name represented how the HDB flats were stacked in many layers of brick-like rectangular blocks," he said. His design for the outdoor furniture, taking a cue from that, is aptly titled Brickworks; comprising "brick" made from timber, they come with concealed magnets so the furniture can be easily reconfigured.

For Mr Loh, making good design accessible is key in establishing Singapore as a global centre for design. "Design thinking could be like a dialect we speak in Singapore and a cultural foundation on which we leverage to elevate ourselves as a forward-thinking economy," he said.

Who: Zhang Zhoujie

Participating in Maison & Objet Asia

Inspired by the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, Zhang Zhoujie believes his role as a designer is to "interfere as little as possible" and let nature take control. "Taoism is a way to find what is true in nature," he said.

He will take part in Maison & Objet Asia's specially-curated showcase called Rising Asian Talents. For this, he will present work based on the concept of "spontaneity" in a digital environment.

He said: "I will exhibit my Digital Chair, which was generated from my computer according to human-body figures. It's a kind of new way to think about design and furniture in a digital context." With many facets and finished in polished metal, the chair is not one that will easily go into mass production - and that's part of the point. "We all know the market is huge and fast, so there are some design products that go to market even without finalising the design - the bad quality will definitely have a bad influence. The main challenge as a designer in Asia is intellectual property protection," he said.

Who: Masayo Ave

Participation in Many Ways of Seeing Seminar/Exhibition

Designer/architect Masayo Ave believes that children who learn from multi-dimensional sensory impressions will have an unfailing antidote for boredom and disenchantment. Over the years, she has developed design-education programmes that encompass a variety of sensory-based design experiences for professionals, craftsmen, young designers and children. She also founded the Haptic Interface Design Institute in Berlin to teach sensory-based innovative design.

In Singapore for Singapore Design Week's Many Ways of Seeing (MWOS), a DesignSingapore Council's core programme to inspire and cultivate design and creativity in the young, she will run a Master Class workshop for pre-school educators. The workshop is open to educators who have previously participated in both DesignSingapore Council's Masterclass Level 1 and Train-the-Trainer workshops. Members of the public can visit the MWOS exhibition (which she curated) during the Singapore Design Week.

On the need for educators to be better informed on design for children, Prof Ave said that while German, Japanese and Singaporean children would view the world with the same curiosity, wonder and excitement, an adult's general appreciation for such a child's vision will differ slightly from place to place.

MWOS began in 2003 as a design-appreciation project for school children, under which they collaborated with a teacher, a designer and a mentor in small-project settings. In 2012, the council expanded the programme to include the pre-school sector as well. To reach out to this audience, DesignSingapore Council has been working with the Early Childhood Development Agency.

Prof Ave is now facilitating Train-the-Trainer and Master Class workshops for early-childhood educators. During these nature-inspired design workshops, educators bring in their pre-school class so they can learn from Prof Ave about conducting MWOS classes.