National Design Centre official opening, Mar 2014

Since the 1980s, the Singapore Government has facilitated the development of design sector, and has promoted design as one of the strategic capabilities for internationalising Singapore-based companies. While design has been promoted as part of Singapore’s trade and industry, and mainly as a business tool, there was a need for a comprehensive and integrated national strategy that adopted a systemic approach for understanding design as an extension of creativity and culture.

This meant promoting and developing the design industries as a creative cluster, nurturing world-class design capabilities, fostering greater design consciousness and building international alliances. In 2002, the Government put in place the Creative Industries Development Strategy for the Arts & Culture, Design and Media sectors. The following year, DesignSingapore Council was founded as the national agency to spearhead the design sector’s development. 

Designer of the year 2014 - Larry Peh

DesignSingapore Council developed Dsg-II, the national master plan for the design sector from year 2009 to 2015. It has a three-pronged strategy:

1) Develop capacity for a globally competitive design cluster. Initiatives include grants to help designers and companies participate in international trade platforms, training programmes to enhance capabilities, financial scholarships to groom talents, and the President’s Design Award to recognise design excellence in Singapore;

2) Enable enterprises to use good design for economic and social growth. Initiatives include grants to support enterprises that use design for service innovation, and public outreach programmes for design appreciation;

3) Drive innovation and design IP creation to enhance competitiveness. Initiatives such as the establishment of the National Design Centre, training programmes and grants for design research and R&D and IP creation are available to designers, design companies and enterprises.

The Alchemists exhibition,Triennale di Milano,
Milan Design Week. Photo: Industry+

DesignSingapore Council recognises the importance of having strong professional associations to help develop their respective design sectors in architecture, landscape design, urban planning, interior design, visual communications, advertising, fashion, furniture and product and industrial design. DesignSingapore offers grants and incentive schemes to support industry-led programmes that develop design and business capabilities, raise the standard of design practices, and promote Singaporean design on international platforms. There is a grant for associations’ programmes and a grant for accreditation framework to raise the professional standards of practitioners. 

DesignS Gala Dinner & Award Night

The Ministry of Communications and Information forms the Industry Development Panel (IDP) comprising nine design associations, to facilitate public-private sector collaboration. IDP members work on multi-disciplinary projects to develop their designers’ capabilities as well as foster a creative culture. DesignSingapore and IDP have regular meetings to enable collective effort in industry development and mutual understanding. The National Design Centre supports the associations’ programmes with venue support.