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Singapore Design Week 2023 will explore how design can improve lives

Promotion: themes of innovation, inclusivity and sustainability will be the focus of the exhibitions, workshops and talks taking place at this year's Singapore Design Week (SDW), which opens later this month.

One of Asia's most anticipated design festivals, Singapore Design Week aims to showcase Singapore's "distinct brand of creativity". This year marks the 20th anniversary of its organising body, DesignSingapore Council (Dsg). To mark this milestone, the 11-day festival will adopt the council's motto, 'Better by Design', as its theme for 2023.

"Singapore design embodies a universal attitude – the desire to always seek to make lives better using design," said festival director of SDW 2023, Madeleine Ho.

"The motto 'Better by Design' reflects DesignSingapore Council's commitment to champion design and creativity that helps us to meet complex challenges and shape a better future."

To highlight the 'Better by Design' theme, DesignSingapore Council commissioned local design curators to create a number of installations.

Curators included co-founder and creative director of Black, Jackson Tan; co-founder and creative director of Kinetic Singapore, Pann Lim; and co-founders of Lekker Architects, Ong Ker Shing and Joshua Comaroff.

Curators Jackson Tan, Ong Ker-Shing and Joshua Comaroff and Pann Lim
Curators include Jackson Tan, Ong Ker-Shing, Joshua Comaroff and Pann Lim

The installations, titled Playground of Possibilities, School of Tomorrow and FI&LD will be dotted around Bras Basah.Bugis – the arts and heritage district in Singapore's city centre.

Organised under the themes of Innovation, Sustainability and Inclusivity, the installations are designed to showcase impactful design solutions that tackle society's biggest challenges.

Playground of Possibilities presents '12 Stories of Possibilities', including socially-driven and interactive exhibits such as a "mini" public housing town designed to be dementia-friendly and 3D-printed medical prosthetics for better patient outcomes.

"I hope visitors of all ages can realise that everyone can create a positive impact through design," said curator of Playground of Possibilities, Jackson Tan. "As our society evolves, complex challenges such as digital disruption and climate change have also surfaced."

At Playground of Possibilities, visitors also learn how biomimicry and nature-inspired strategies could assist in designing to cope with climate change.

FI&LD will feature exhibits that push creative inclusivity including Cave of Hug by Bureau Spectacular

The installation FI&LD offers a "new philosophy in inclusive design" based on play and improvisation. Here, visitors will get to experience examples of this ethos in practice – from physical environments to graphics, products, services and experiences.

The installation aims to emphasise the possible connections between inclusion, emotion and technology through design.

"Inclusive practice is not just 'handicap ramps' or accessibility infrastructures," said co-curator of FI&LD, Joshua Comaroff. "Instead, it is a totally new way of thinking about the user of design, in all our human variety."

"Empathy for a diverse public will make better design, that brings more comfort and delight to us all."

Exploring sustainability, School of Tomorrow will introduce classes examining critical environmental issues through common subjects such as geography, chemistry and social studies.

"Sustainability might seem like a broad subject to broach, but we hope that by using the concept of a school for these installations, visitors can easily recognise the diverse environmental challenges we face, and find methods to better equip ourselves, both in theory and practice," said curator of School of Tomorrow, Pann Lim.

Sustainability is one of the themes throughout the week.  Image by Kinetic Singapore

In addition to Bras Basah.Bugis, the festival will also introduce Marina Bay and Orchard Road as design districts. Each of these three precincts aims to reflect the unique character of its community and offer immersive design experiences within walking distance.

As in previous years, the 2023 event will continue to explore design through three defining pillars: Design Futures, Design Marketplace and Design Impact.

Addressing Design Futures, Singapore Design Week's Design Futures Forum will see distinguished designers and thinkers from Singapore and around the world explore design-enabled versions of the future.

Speakers include Japanese architect Shigeru Ban; fitness innovation expert and founder of Whitespace, Lululemon's ideation lab, Tom Waller; and the first Asia Pacific head of the World Green Building Council, Joelle Chan.

Speakers at Singapore Design Week's Design Futures Forum include Shigeru Ban, Dr Tom Waller and Joelle Chen

The festival's Design Marketplace pillar is once again spearheaded by FIND – Design Fair Asia, which will return to Marina Bay Sands for its second edition from 21 to 23 September 2023.

The fair includes Emerge at FIND – a showcase dedicated to Southeast Asian contemporary design curated by designer and curator Suzy Annetta of Design Anthology.

This year's edition will feature the curatorial theme of "Craft and Industry: Man and Machine", with works by over 50 emerging and established designers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Lighting design
EMERGE @ FIND is a showcase dedicated to Southeast Asian contemporary design. Image: LớpLamps by Thomas Vincent, Bang, Vietnam

Besides the festival commission of immersive installations, the Design Impact pillar will be demonstrated through Future Impact: Homecoming Showcase, curated by design consultant Tony Chambers and curator Maria Cristina Didero, which was first presented at Milan Design Week 2023.

In addition, the local design community will present over 80 ground-up events that encompass exhibitions, talks, panel discussions, workshops, tours and retail pop-ups informed by the festival theme and pillars.

To learn more about Singapore Design Week, visit its website.

Singapore Design Week takes place from 21 September to 1 October 2023 in Singapore. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Singapore Design Week as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.