Play Singapore

Play Singapore - Case for the Singapore Pavilion

“To stimulate creativity one must develop childlike inclination for play..” Albert Einstein

Singapore has indeed come a long way in its economic development since the early years with the growing key to our survival as a design nation. I Believe most, if not all companies are suddenly giving more attention to design - what design means in the context of a successful business and how to encourage future generations of business-focused designers.

Design isn’t secret any more. It is an attractive idea for businesses to be design-led today? It has become a bigger word than mere aesthetic output. Design is now integral part of our values and education, how do reinforce that into the present and inculcate earlier it into our younger generations? I believe somewhere in the equation is the fundament element of creative genius and it all link to how “we play”.

Play for “Junior-preneurs”

Premised on the industrial age, the global school system is, at its core, school-centric. Schools, including those in Singapore, are centered on a top-down culture of a one-size-fits-all curriculum, age-based cohorts, and streaming based on standardised exams.

If there are any examples and retrieve, Finland is one country that offers some lessons for us in the way it has emphasised the traditional school–centeredness and focus on

examinations. For the Dutch too, most things connect to some sort of design mentality. A Dutch approach to design is never simply about form or function; what motivates Dutch designers is the constant demand for creativity in facing complex social, economic and cultural problems. Intimately engaged with its surroundings, the Dutch design sensibility tends to “remix” existing elements to produce sustainable hybrids and craft a particular quality of life.

The aim I would like to emphasise here is to encourage and equip our younger generation with the ability to play, dream, to think differently, to pioneer and to become innovators leading society at the cutting edge. From a younger age, we need to instil creativity in our schools. This will form their core curriculum. Design thinking is not just applicable to so−called creative industries or people who work in the design field. It′s a methodology that will be foundational and akin to a life or survivor skill. That through play they will think and find design.

robotic puppetry designed by barnaby dixon

Aesthetics values and design principles need to be “caught than taught”. Conventional classes need to evolve to more hands-on workshops based on the importance of life skills and future forward thinking. All these to accentuate and nurture a joy of learning, so children love what they are doing in school and in turn take their passion and critical thinking skills into their chosen business fields and careers.

This is what we need to encourage in our youths - through “futur-preneur” creative courses or “design-co-lab” programs in primary schools to build younger/ stronger design aspirators and “junior-preneurs” who will participate in art-jams, creative labs, robotic puppetry, molecular culinary classes, amateur energy craft projects etc. Our conventional understanding of art for youths has to evolve to a cutting edge life skill involving technology so that they will be able to assimilate into the design communities.

Creative Play for Communities

Studies have shown that when children are in an assured environment, they have the freedom to play. The same is true for adults. When organisations are not generating enough ideas, it is always the people who have become fearful and insecure at what they do. Their experiences in certain fields are hindering them for fear of what their “colleagues will say”, and for “getting it wrong”.

When David Kelley of IDEO had his first break at making a design pitch to Steve Jobs, he decided that he and his team would forgo the restrictive detail-centric formalities of design generation. Their team would through “serious playing”, combined whatever “domesticated” materials they could find so as to produce rapid prototypes by applying masking tape and rubber bands. Seeming crude objects would emerge that personify new forms and purposes, which ultimately led them to their huge successful creation of the world’s first track ball mouse.

This established the fact that letting go of our inhibitions is the key to how we can help our design industries advance and keep organisations abreast and to be ahead of the competition. Public programs and initiatives can include building projects that will encourage imagination, creativity and most of all to rid fears and insecurities that prevents people from moving forward.“

antique of the future” – the play inspiring Spun Chair by Thomas Heatherwick

“SG Play-villion”

The future of “designapolis” like Singapore will be more than adding another airport or reinventing Orchard Road. Our future economies and job fields would arise from digital skills, robotics and the biomedical sectors, which mandate us to research into similarly forward thinking systems to harness energy, repurposing and inventing materials.

More than being the host of World Design Congress, Singapore Design Week, Art Festivals, the Biennale and World Architecture Festival, I believe there should be a genuine focus on design and more importantly, sustainability design.

the ‘pillar of dreams’ by theverymany, Canada

To this aim the proposal for the “SG Play pavilion” will suffice to encourage a thin-shell installation that push the limit of form, structure and space - somewhere between art and architecture with an emphasis on wonder, imagination and technology which plays an important part in public engagement and platform for learning. Through this project, the role of computational design, advance digital fabrication to craft future spatial experiences.

As Singaporeans we have always drawn from our unique heritage, the contrast between the old and the new, the east and the west. More than any progress we have made as a design nation, may we be reminded that one of our national identities is that we are a playful people, and with that comes our greatest strength.

Jack Liew

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