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DRB and Design Gateway: Forging Industry Relationships In Asia

Working with Design Gateway, new Singapore-based design-research group Design Research Bureau (DRB) has held its first workshop for a cohort of delegates from China.

DRB and Design Gateway: Forging Industry Relationships In Asia

Interior designer Rajesh Shah is a familiar face in Singapore’s design scene via his practice as well as his involvement in the Society of Interior Designers. Keen to further his contributions to the industry, he established Design Gateway as a vehicle for the delivery of awards, seminars, workshops and events for local and overseas interior designers. Recently, Design Gateway partnered with new outfit Design Research Bureau (DRB) to deliver the first edition of ‘Design & Research Workshop’ – a means of sharing critical design thinking and research methodologies to design practitioners.


DRB Design Gateway 1


DRB was established by a group of well-known Singaporean designers: Colin Seah (Ministry of Design), Kelly Cheng (The Press Room), Peter Tay (Peter Tay Studio), Keat Ong (Nota Design Group) and Nathan Yong (Nathan Yong Design). Shah explains that the five saw the need and demand for a sharing initiative, and approached Design Gateway to facilitate the first DRB workshop on their behalf.

The first DRB workshop was a five-day event in August catering to attendees from China. The group of attendees consisted of designers and employees of companies related to the design industry, such as material suppliers. Their course, delivered by the DRB founders, consisted of three days of lectures and workshops, and two days of guided tours to prominent buildings in Singapore.

The decision to focus on an audience from China was based on the possibility of mutual benefit, as well as a desire to link industry practitioners from the region in line with China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. Says Shah, “The One Belt One Road initiatve has far-reaching implications in as much as it will connect China all the way from Asia to the Middle East and even to Europe. The push by China’s central government to unite all along the path is significant.” He continues:


“We feel that the best way forward for Singapore is to focus on building strong relationships with our Chinese counterparts and all along the OBOR corridor. It is always difficult for us as a small nation to go at it ourselves, but with a strong and able teammate, we can go far.”

– Rajesh Shah


Friendships with Chinese counterparts are crucial for Singaporean designers, suggests Shah, offering the prospect of mutually beneficial business opportunities for all. “Singaporeans have ventured into China on their own for decades, with many success stories, and equal number of sad stories,” he says. He continues, “The key then is to build and forge friendships with our China counterparts. They still look up to the Singapore brand, but only in terms of creativitiy and professionalism. In terms of execution and resources, they have long surpassed us. Frienships can and will result in mutually beneficial business opportunites for all.”

In future, he says, the DRB workshops will also target ASEAN countries. “ASEAN is the next largest block after China and India,” says Shah, “in terms of population and the developmental growth of infrastructure and places to work, play and live.”

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