Fol­low­ing the re­cent con­clu­sion of the P*DA, Christina Me­lander re­counts some of the jury ex­pe­ri­ence high­lights and the big­gest take­away from this de­sign com­pe­ti­tion.

Home & Decor (Singapore) - - Contents - CHRISTINA ME­LANDER JU­ROR, PRES­I­DENT* S DE­SIGN AWARD 2018 ( P* DA)

Pres­i­dent*s De­sign Award ju­ror Christina Me­lander re­veals the big­gest take­away from the com­pe­ti­tion.

I was ab­so­lutely hon­oured when I was asked to be part of the Pres­i­dent*s De­sign Award (P*DA) 2018 jury. Through my work as pro­gramme di­rec­tor at the Dan­ish De­sign Cen­tre and over­see­ing the Dan­ish De­sign Award, I have been fol­low­ing Sin­ga­pore de­sign and its im­pres­sive de­vel­op­ment for years. Fur­ther, I’m thrilled to be part of the jury the year when the com­pe­ti­tion is re-launched with a greater em­pha­sis on the im­pact of de­sign.

In the case of P*DA, we speak of im­pact in terms of en­abling eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, rais­ing the qual­ity of life, ad­vanc­ing the Sin­ga­pore brand and cul­ture, con­nect­ing com­mu­ni­ties, and mak­ing ground-break­ing achieve­ments in the eld of de­sign.


However, im­pact is not nec­es­sar­ily an easy thing to val­i­date. As part of the P*DA eval­u­a­tion process this year, De­sign Sin­ga­pore Coun­cil part­nered the SUTD-MIT In­ter­na­tional De­sign Cen­tre, which was given the task of look­ing deeper into dif­fer­ent as­pects of im­pact and value cre­ation for each of the P*DA short­listed de­sign so­lu­tions. (SUTD refers to the Sin­ga­pore Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and De­sign.) In my opin­ion, the im­pact re­ports were ex­tremely valu­able to the judg­ing process – not that the im­pact re­ports were al­lowed to di­rect the ju­rors’ opin­ions, but in terms of hav­ing some con­text and to add to a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion.


Ser­vice de­sign is a eld ex­pe­ri­enc­ing great growth. Dur­ing P*DA 2018, we wit­nessed a lot of great new ser­vice so­lu­tions. However, in many cases, the de­sign was to some de­gree in­vis­i­ble.

The re­sult of a ser­vice de­sign could be a new ser­vice to im­prove so­cial liv­ing of sin­gle senior cit­i­zens – man­i­fested in a cou­ple of plas­tic ta­bles and chairs on the ground oor of an apart­ment build­ing, or a ba­sic guide on stay­ing strong and condent when loved ones are fac­ing life-threat­en­ing diseases.

Ser­vice de­sign, of course, needs to be judged on the same cri­te­ria as in­dus­trial de­sign, ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign, user­in­ter­face de­sign etc., but the process of re­view­ing aes­thet­ics and form-giv­ing re­gard­ing ser­vice de­sign re­sulted in some very in­ter­est­ing, but also very im­por­tant, dis­cus­sions among the ju­rors.

Among the ser­vice de­sign projects I judged, I was very moved by Who Cares? Trans­form­ing The Care­giv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence (pre­sen­ta­tion im­ages on op­po­site page). This pro­ject pro­vided a re­sponse to the fu­ture of care­giv­ing in Sin­ga­pore, or any­where for that mat­ter. Dur­ing the judg­ing, we were pre­sented with some of the re­search work, in­clud­ing a video show­ing the sit­u­a­tion of a wife be­ing at home with her hus­band suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia, and hav­ing to cope with him be­ing vi­o­lent from time to time, while be­ing afraid and sad. Such videos of user sit­u­a­tions were quite sim­ple, but ex­tremely ef­fec­tive in un­der­lin­ing a huge prob­lem.

The de­sign team cre­ated a num­ber of con­cepts, prod­ucts, ser­vices, tools, spa­ces and cam­paigns around how to em­power and take bet­ter care of the care­givers, as well as to build a strong ecosys­tem around the grow­ing seg­ment of peo­ple who have fam­ily mem­bers that need care.


An­other pro­ject that stood out was the Weather­hyde tent (above). Hap­pily, there are many ex­am­ples of tent so­lu­tions for home­less peo­ple. De­press­ingly enough, the de­mand is ris­ing due to poverty, an inux of refugees and cli­mate catas­tro­phes. However, the Weather­hyde is prob­a­bly one of the best de­signed tents I have seen, and denitely wor­thy of a de­sign award. I’m very grate­ful that the de­sign­ers of Bil­lion Bricks sub­mit­ted this tent to the P*DA. I don’t know which is the best as­pect to high­light: the de­sign prin­ci­ple of “Never de­sign poorly for the poor”, how the team was in­spired by the ma­te­ri­als of jack­ets for ex­treme weather conditions, the fact that the tent has re­versible skin for sum­mer and win­ter use, how a new stitch­ing method was de­vel­oped to en­sure that the tent re­mains wa­ter­tight un­der ex­treme weather conditions, or that an opaque skin pro­tects the pri­vacy of women and chil­dren when the tent is lit from within.

And then there is the in­no­va­tive busi­ness model, which em­pow­ers their users as cus­tomers, not benecia­ries. Flex­i­ble pay­ment terms al­low users to pur­chase their own tents – homes, in ac­tu­al­ity – in­stead of hav­ing to wait for aid.

In many ways this is a high­per­for­mance tent, which is also pur­chased by non-home­less peo­ple who need a great tent with great func­tion­al­i­ties, for ex­am­ple, on hik­ing trips. So, an ad­di­tional benet is that the Weather­hyde is not stig­ma­tis­ing home­less peo­ple, be­cause ba­si­cally this serves many needs.

Now, more than ever, there’s an in­creased un­der­stand­ing of de­sign be­ing much more than fur­ni­ture, fash­ion and life­style prod­ucts. This is an op­por­tu­nity for de­sign. In or­der to utilise the eco­nomic, so­cial, and cul­tural ef­fect of de­sign, we need to change our com­mu­ni­ca­tion from what de­sign is, to how de­sign cre­ates im­pact and makes dif­fer­ences. De­sign awards like the P*DA and the Dan­ish De­sign Award are ex­cel­lent tools for that.

I am a very big fan of all the P*DA De­signs of the Year – in­di­vid­u­ally and also as a group. They col­lec­tively man­i­fest the power, but also va­ri­ety of de­sign, from Sin­ga­pore in 2018.

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