Opening Address by MOS Faishal Ibrahim at the Design Asia Exhibition and Congress 2021

Nov 25, 2021

Good morning. I am very happy to join you at the inaugural Design Asia Exhibition and Congress 2021.  

I am happy to see so many industry thought leaders and professionals, as well as young designers, come together to explore design and create innovative solutions.

The theme of the congress is “A New Normal: A Design Discourse”.

The way that we live, work and play has indeed changed significantly, influencing how and what we design. For instance, the increasing awareness worldwide of the need to tackle climate change has led to growing demand for environmentally conscious design. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the importance of designing our living environment to promote better public health outcomes.

Many designers are already recognising the need to keep abreast of these emerging trends to stand out in the global marketplace. Let me highlight a few areas that will be increasingly significant in the years ahead.

First, designing for sustainability. As designers, you play an important role in enabling our transition to a low-carbon built environment.

In September, BCA launched the latest edition of Green Mark, one of the world’s leading green building certification schemes. The refreshed scheme places greater emphasis on sustainability outcomes, such as reducing carbon emissions across a building’s lifecycle.

The scheme recognises the use of sustainable products and finishes that have been certified by the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) or equivalent organisations. These products have been benchmarked based on their energy and resource efficiency, among other criteria.

I encourage you to incorporate these products in your projects, and to work with SGBC to get your own products certified. This will allow you to differentiate your designs and products in a competitive industry.

We have also seen how manufacturing processes can be redesigned for a more sustainable economy. For example, projects such as Offcut Factory work with local factories to transform waste material into unique and functional items.

These are just some of the ways in which designers such as yourselves can make a positive impact on the environment.

Second, designing for health and well-being. You can positively shape lives and behaviours through your designs.

For the interior designers among us, the Green Mark scheme encourages you to consider how a building’s layout, facilities and furniture can encourage people to be more active. For example, ensuring that staircases are well-ventilated and well-lit can encourage people to use them instead of taking the lift.

Besides promoting a healthy lifestyle, you can also support users’ well-being by designing interior lighting around our natural rhythm, or body clock. For instance, by letting as much daylight into a building as possible or using artificial lighting that shifts in colour and intensity to mimic the progression of the day.

Overall, embracing emerging opportunities in the areas of sustainability and well-being will allow you to create greater impact and unlock exciting design possibilities.

I am heartened to see that there are many budding design innovators who are passionate about pushing the boundaries for design and engaging with industry partners. Many of you have demonstrated how good design can contribute to sustainability and well-being.

For example, Chen Jiawen noticed that pet owners tend to leave their air-conditioners and fans on for their pets to stay cool, even when they are not at home. However, this not only leaves pets feeling more dehydrated, but also wastes electricity. To address this problem, Jiawen designed a thermos flask which pets can lick to cool themselves down. This invention helps to improve the well-being of pets while reducing energy consumption.

Another example is Asher Ong’s Khong Guan Living Gallery, a community space that aims to promote cross-cultural exchange. The Gallery is designed with multi-purpose spaces for holding events, exhibitions and performances. It also has many windows to allow sunlight to permeate the interior, creating a welcoming and comfortable ambience for users of the space.

Congratulations to Jiawen, Asher and all other finalists of the Design Asia 2021 Student Design Competition.

In conclusion, design is a powerful tool which we can use to shape our environment and the way we live.  Partnerships between the people, public and private sectors will be key to pushing the boundaries.

In this vein, I am delighted to share that the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) have launched an Action for Alliance (AfA) on Sustainable Spaces earlier this month.  This AfA aims to explore how stakeholders across different sectors can partner to create and enhance sustainable indoor spaces.

I urge designers to come on board to share their perspectives and innovate with other like-minded solution providers, and solution adopters such as the hospitality and real estate sectors.  Through our collective efforts, we can build a more resilient and liveable city for all.

I wish everyone good health, and a fruitful time at the exhibitions, conferences and fora over the next few days. Thank you.