The sheer amount of plastic generated by our negligent attitude, the state of felled Angsana trees and rain trees piling up in the sawmills of Sungei Kadut or the future of brick-and-mortar retail, design firms in Singapore have been exploring solutions to these issues and more as part of the Good Design Research (GDR) initiative, launched by Design Singapore Council (DSG) in 2020. The initiative aims at deepening the role of research-based design in solving the challenges faced by societies and cities, provides homegrown designers with sponsorship, mentorship and industry support to empower them to design impactful solutions.
A total of 17 projects cutting across three impact areas – Environment; Communities and Culture; and People and Organisations – were selected and supported under GDR’s initial open calls. The designers will present their research findings, solutions and prototypes via an 11-month rotating physical showcase as well as a series of online workshops and webinars hosted by the National Design Centre.“The projects under Good Design Research not only demonstrate great diversity, they understand the role and the potential for research to crystalise better, human-centred solutions for the many challenges we face today. In these VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) times, there’s a greater urgency to design more thoughtfully for positive impact and reveal new possibilities for a better world by design,” says Mark Wee, Executive Director of Dsg.
Kicking off the GDR exhibition this month is Reuse Lab by multidisciplinary design studio Forest & Whale. The project, spurred by the environmental damage caused by disposable food packaging, saw the design studio undertake a series of interviews with hawkers to create more sustainable, reusable and user-friendly takeaway options as an alternative to single-use plastic. “We believe bringing reusable models into hawker centres where most people eat daily can help to scale up the collective impact of using reusables instead of disposables,” says Gustavo Maggio, co-founder of Forest & Whale. The three concepts created for the exhibition are KopiCup (its local version of a reusable coffee cup) inspired by the iconic kopitiam milk tin; a Borrow and Return reusable container; and a Hybrid takeaway model comprising a compostable brown paper liner and a reusable container. This pop-up laboratory will run for three weeks from Oct 15 to Nov 10, 2021.
This will be followed by Make in Shop, by fashion label GINLEE Studio, that will explore the twin issues of over-production in fashion and the revitalisation of brick-and-mortar retail from Nov 15. “We envision the future of Make in Shop as a series of concept stores spread around the city. Each concept store will host different smartly crafted products and have its own unique experience to come with it,” says co-founder Gin Lee of GINLEE Studio
The third pop-up will be helmed by design studio, Produce Workshop, and will showcase its new sustainable material for the construction industry. “We believe timber is the future of construction. We need to develop the use of timber from around the region to be less reliant on shipping modules halfway around the globe,” says Pan Yi Cheng of the Singaporean design studio. They will conceptualised a type of MET known as the Sandwiched Variable Eggcrate Structure (SVES) to reduce material used, shorten production lead time, and minimise labour time on site.
The exhibition space will be updated monthly to present a line-up of GDR projects that delve into other issues such as assistive ageing; inclusive fashion for the mobility challenged; reusing stone and wood offcuts from factories; and hybrid music performances for the neo-pandemic age. Online offerings of GDR projects will commence next year.
The exhibition is open to public from October 15, 2021 to Nov 10, 2021.
Good Design Research (GDR)
National Design Centre