Located in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a modern, cosmopolitan island city-state of 700 square kilometres, where design has played a key role to make life better. As a relatively young nation with big aspirations but limited land and natural resources, key aspects of governance – from housing to education, healthcare, water management and transportation – had to be designed to forge a thriving and sustainable future for its people. Its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remarked in 2018 that “design is a core element of our nation-building. Singapore is a nation by design. Nothing we have today is natural or happened by itself.”
Singapore launched its Design 2025 Masterplan in 2015, the same year it was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design. The Masterplan outlined how the country would use design to become an innovation-driven economy and a loveable city by 2025. Building on the foundations of earlier design masterplans, Design 2025 recommended five strategic thrusts: from inclusive approaches of infusing design into Singapore’s national skillset and bringing design into the community, to targeted activities of expanding the role of design in businesses and government, strengthening the competitiveness of design firms, and developing a Singapore Design brand.
The DesignSingapore Council – Singapore’s national agency for promoting design and developing the design industry – leads the implementation of Design 2025, guided by the five strategic thrusts. The City of Design Office is also sited within the DesignSingapore Council to coordinate and implement programmes that contribute towards the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) mission. Being a member of the UCCN has given Singapore the platform to promote its design developments; yet, the value of learning and opportunities to collaborate with fellow Creative Cities cannot be overstated. To find out more on Singapore’s efforts as a proud City of Design, please read its UCCN Membership Monitoring Report 2015 – 2019.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE NETWORK
As a Creative City of Design, Singapore envisages:
- Infusing design into the national skillset to cultivate an attitude and aptitude for design as an enabler of sustainable growth, productivity and prosperity in the future economy;
- Enabling Singapore businesses, organisations and the public service to deliver innovative user-centred products and services through design;
- Empowering Singapore designers to bridge cultures, deliver impactful solutions and respond to global challenges that contribute to sustainable urban development;
- Cultivating a society that appreciates design and engages in co-creation activities that improves their everyday living and build a strong sense of belonging to a loveable city;
- Collaborating with Cities of Design to showcase best practices and projects to serve as a dialogue platform and enhance international networking and collaboration for the design community; and
- Tapping the varied strengths of the Cities of Design to generate new ideas and create new products and services that are mutually beneficial.
FLAGSHIP PROJECT: SINGAPORE’S PARTNERSHIP WITH CITIES OF DESIGN
In the spirit of knowledge sharing and to raise the network’s profile, Singapore hosted 15 Cities of Design during Singapore Design Week in March 2019. Delegates learnt about design developments in Singapore through participation in programmes such as the Brainstorm Design conference, tours to events and places of interest, and networking events with Singapore creatives as well as business and government leaders.
The key highlight was the UNESCO Creative Cities of Design Public Forum, which was organised for the visiting cities to share how design played a role in policy, business, education or communications in their respective cities. Singapore also presented the urban living stories of all 31 Cities of Design in a special exhibition curated for the International Furniture Fair Singapore.
Connections made during the visit seeded partnerships and initiatives between Singapore and other fellow members including Bandung, Detroit, Geelong, Helsinki and Seoul.
For more information on this programme, click here.