The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

IDC(S) Round Table: Part 1

The first open door IDC(S) round table discussion had industry stakeholders sharing insights on pertinent issues.

IDC(S) Round Table: Part 1


June 15th, 2011

Interior Design Confederation Singapore IDC(S) launched its first open door round table discussion last month in Singapore.

Held in partnership with Indesign Media at the Wilkhahn showroom during Saturday in Design week, this is the first in a series of regular open platform discussions by IDC(S) to engage the local industry.

Facilitated by IDC(S) President Nicholas Merrow-Smith, the panel included Ashvin Kumar, Ong&Ong; Caroline Burns, Geyer; David Tay, Y2: Space Pte Ltd Associate; Derek MacKenzie, designphase dba; Lawrence Chong, Consulus; Michael Wiener, Gensler; Paul Isted, Standard Chartered Bank; and independent consultant Phillips Connor.


Under the overarching theme “Making the Difference Count”, three questions for discussion were raised:

– Are we using our talent effectively?
– Do we agree on common aspirations for practice? Do we have common goals?
– Design leadership: How can key industry stakeholders bring about a better design solution and quality of design?

Here’s Part 1 of our report.

Do you sense a great opportunity for designers in the region? Is this our moment in time?

Lawrence Chong: I sense a growing confidence in meeting with designers in the region.

When I was in Shenzhen, the designers were screaming for a chance to prove themselves. They are saying that it’s no longer about East versus West, but about the East rising up to be with the West and about contributing to the New World Order and global identity.

I’m definitely excited… I think there’s tremendous opportunity and we should seize the moment.


Where the change is coming from.

Derek MacKenzie: You’re seeing the rise in skills because of returning Asians coming back from studies overseas and influencing the local market. But also many improvements in design education in each of those countries – they’ve all seen the benefit of adding value through design.

The Internet and television is also making such an enormous difference in the exposure that the local populations didn’t have, 20 years ago.

This is helping to raise standards, competitiveness, and everyone is having to work harder to achieve more.


Michael Wiener: One of my criticisms would be that there has been a diminution in the critical thinking component of the training. And I think commensurate to that has been this rise of information available. Information by itself doesn’t actually create value.

I think the opportunity is a return to a much more critical process of design… the application of true critical thinking is what’s valuable and that’s what clients want.

Lawrence: It’s a struggle to hire designers who are very interested to deal with critical information.

If Singapore can position itself as a place that moves faster in that area, our net ability to create value for clients and for ourselves is much higher.


Do you feel highly valued: as a strategist, as a firm?

Michael: Oftentimes we are undervalued because we are judged against matrix that frankly aren’t appropriate measures for what we are doing.

If we look at long-term growth value and growth produced in a space we can show that the input of design is fractional compared to the enormous output that the design can result in. We need to help clients understand that.

The thing is to get people to really think in a much broader and bigger picture as to what design is, what it can do, why it matters, and what it is worth to them. If you can get the conversation to that level, it’s actually quite easy to show what it is worth.

Phillips Connor: I think it has to do with speaking the client’s language as well.

Lawrence: The whole dynamics is completely shifting in favour of the combination of business and design – bringing this in one cohesive experience, what I call the consulting experience.


INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed