Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines
One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
National Design Centre

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Singapore 188969

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Designer Profile

A Broken Sofa that Became an Inspiration

4 min read

When Kevin Chiam was a teenager, he saw his father fixing their sofa. The older Mr Chiam, who always loved DIY, had removed the sofa’s upholstery to fix it – revealing the furniture’s internal structure. This intrigued the teen enough to spark off an interest in design, which grew stronger after he enrolled in industrial design at Temasek Polytechnic.

Last year, Kevin topped the Class of 2017 in the Division of Industrial Design when he graduated from the National University of Singapore. His final year thesis – a set of kitchenware designed to empower the visually impaired to cook safely and independently – has snagged numerous awards and honours, including the 2017 Taiwan International Student Design Competition and the Singapore National Winner of the James Dyson Award 2018. 

The self-proclaimed “curious explorer” is now off to the UK to pursue a Master’s Degree in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art.

He is among the first batch of DesignSingapore scholars to be supported by the new scholarship framework, which was announced earlier this year. The new framework includes enhanced financial support as well as career planning, mentorship, internships and networking opportunities.

Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information with Kevin Chiam at the Scholarship Ceremony 

The other four scholars are, Meyers Jacob Elias Jing-Long, who will be pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Science in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College in the UK; Shannon Teoh Yi Wen, who will be pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Design at the Tama Art University in Japan; Jonathan Ng Ming-En, who will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Architecture I at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in the United States; and Loy Kai Yi Tiffany, who will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Textiles at the Royal College of Art in the UK.

Click on the photos of our Scholars for more

They will now join 49 other DesignSingapore scholars who form the DesignSingapore Associates Network, where they can contribute more actively to Singapore’s design scene, by helping to guide young designers as well as sharing their learnings and insights.


While the new scholars are gearing up for their design journeys, their predecessors have been making the Council proud.

Hans Tan was among the first batch of young designers to be awarded the DesignSingapore Scholarship back in 2005. In July 2018, he was conferred the Designer of the Year in the 2018 President*s Design Award.

Olivia Lee was awarded the scholarship in 2006. She was named one of the most promising designers at the prestigious Salone del Mobile Milano Furniture Fair in 2017. In August 2018, women’s magazine Her World named her as their Young Woman Achiever of the year.


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Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines
One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
National Design Centre