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Time to think design
DESIGNERS will have their time in the spotlight when Singapore Design Week (SDW) returns in March. After a successful first run which pulled in more than 90,000 visitors at its events across the city last year, the organisers, DesignSingapore Council, have extended this year's edition of SDW by six days.
This ensures the design festival coincides with the mid-term school holidays, so even more people can attend the events.
Robert Tomlin, chairman of DesignSingapore Council, said: "One of the objectives of Singapore Design Week is to raise public awareness and appreciation of design through our line-up of events and activities."
The council has also increased the number of events by about 10 per cent to more than 60 events across the various design disciplines. Anchor events include the International Furniture Fair Singapore and the Singapore Design Business Summit.
Mr Tomlin added: "The design industry, by definition, is highly fragmented. We provide the mechanism to bring them together. We provide them a platform."
Among the events, Paris-based Maison & Objet Asia is likely to be a crowd-pleaser. Last year, the home accessories fair alone welcomed 13,700 visitors. It took more than five years of negotiations by the DesignSingapore Council and the Singapore Tourism Board to bring this influential fair to Singapore.
The managing director of Maison & Objet Philippe Brocart said: "Singapore is at a crossroads where many talented Asian designers will converge and meet with their European counterparts to exchange and explore new ideas, to network and, most importantly, showcase their works."
The exact size of the contribution by the design sector as a whole to Singapore's economy is unknown; however, the operating income of the Singapore furniture industry alone has been growing at an average of 3 per cent year-on-year since 2010, the Furniture Industry Survey 2013 found - and this was expected to grow from the S$5.8 billion in 2012 to S$6.3 billion last year.
With SDW 2015, DesignSingapore Council hopes to give the public an insight into the evolving role of the designer today.
Jeffrey Ho, executive director of the council, said: "Designers are not just graphic designers and interior designers. Nowadays, designers go into the whole notion of business strategy." He added that designers' job scope now includes design management, which entails managing the design process, using design for the company's innovations and even to manage its branding.
To this end, the council's Design Thinking & Innovation Academy will conduct a design workshop specifically for those involved in the food and beverage sector under the auspices of SDW 2015.
For younger members of the public, SDW 2015 will feature work by children at the "Many Ways of Seeing" (MWOS) Exhibition. MWOS was conceived to instil a "sense of wonder" in children by "heightening their senses". Mr Ho added: "We believe we should start them young - not just to make them designers, but to think creatively and think design."
At the other end of the events spectrum is SingaPlural 2015, a showcase of work from various design disciplines - ranging from advertising and architecture to fashion and interior design.
Curated by Mervin Tan of Plus Collaboratives, SingaPlural 2015 is expected to be more "holistic and thematic" than in previous years. Through the works on display, visitors are expected to experience the important elements of design beyond just the end product - hence the exhibition theme, "Process".
This year, there will also be more large-scale installations, including one on landscape art and a full-scale mock-up of an apartment. Mr Tan said some of the work on display will likely be quite "conceptual", but that SingaPlural would be for everyone.
"The purpose is to make it relatable," he said.