The last year has been an exhilarating journey, to say the least, since taking over the presidency at DBCS.
DBCS was rebranded from Designers Association Singapore in 2012 with the purpose of employing design thinking and innovation as a strategic driver in setting businesses apart in the dynamic economic environment. Design thinking is all the more relevant today in the face of constant disruptions.
At the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Ministerial Forum in April 2018, PM Lee said, “Good design thinking was a key reason for Singapore’s successful journey from third world to first, and it will be critical in the country’s future transformation, for it to remain an outstanding city in the world.” Echoing PM’s sentiment, I strongly believe that innovation does not occur in a vacuum. Similarly, the design community cannot bloom without an equally vibrant business community. DBCS’ role is to forge partnership opportunities between the design and business communities. We believe that by bringing the two communities onto a common platform, we can encourage the business community to embrace design-led innovation as its key driver for sustainable growth.
For this reason, DBCS initiated discussions with a number of Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) in 2017 to collaborate more intentionally and meaningfully for the mutual benefit of the communities we serve. As a start, we are very pleased to have four like-minded partners in declaring our commitment to use design innovation as a strategic tool to elevate our economy to greater heights. They are the Restaurant Association of Singapore, Singapore Business Federation, Singapore Furniture Industries Council and Singapore Manufacturing Federation. A bilateral MOU was signed with each of the four TACs on 10 May 2018 at our Gala Dinner in the presence of SMS Sim Ann who was the witness and GOH of the occasion.
Late last year with funding support from DesignSingapore Council, we engaged the services of a research company and the findings validated our Industry Transformation Roadmap. At the same time, it surfaced new opportunities for the Chamber. This led to the conception of our Enterprise Outreach Strategy, undergirded by our manifesto – Better Business by Design. Better business consists of wide-ranging goals that take into consideration social, economic and environmental factors. It also has a measurable outcome. In order to achieve ‘Better Business by Design’, there is a need to rethink existing business and social models. We plan to introduce design thinking and innovation principles to more companies through our proprietary hands-on workshop known as Design Kitchen and Design Kitchen+.
We desire to see businesses forge real partnerships with the design community and tap on some of the excellent grants/schemes offered by Enterprise Singapore. We want to see success stories harvested and projects recognised for SG Mark and the revamped Singapore Design Award. We believe that when businesses begin to embrace design as a strategic driver, the design industry will also grow with the increased opportunities. I am pleased to share that with effect from 1 July 2018, our Constitution will be revised with the aim of welcoming companies as our full members.
The design community remains at the heart of what we do at DBCS. This is why professional designers can look forward to more networking opportunities and learning platforms that are specially curated for them. For a start, we will be organising a Design Innovation Crawl where SG Mark winners can share about their winning projects and processes.
Let me end with my personal adaptation from Martin Luther King Junior’s historic speech that had touched millions and transformed society…
“I have a dream though many challenges may abound today, we can be confident of our future because we are a society that believes we are stronger when we are together.”
I dream that one day, in every boardroom, design practitioners and businessmen will sit on the same table, envisioning the future together.
I have a dream that designers will be valued far beyond their physical landscape, but their potential to transform organisations and societies.
I dream that one day, this Little Red Dot will epitomise the pinnacle of creativity.
I have a dream. And it begins with the little steps that we take today.