What have you been busy with since October?
The biggest change from Executive Director to Design Ambassador was switching from a management role to a content specialist and individual contributor role. I now generate content (as oppose to vetting content) in the form of articles, market reports and presentations. I relentlessly build my networks, and have no shame in asking people to introduce contacts to me. I research into organisations that I am about to meet or want to meet, and set targets for myself. As this is a totally new role, there is no precedence, no established networks, no job description.
A recent highlight was serving as the President of Jury for the inaugural French Design 100 awards, which honours French designers who uplift French design overseas. The entirely international jury sifted through hundreds of pages of submissions for the 173 nominations. What emerged from our discussions was a strong consensus that great design needs to be sustainable. We were also curious about each designer’s philosophy as we wanted to know what drove them. In other words, an aesthetically pleasing portfolio is no longer enough.
I also had the privilege of addressing a key group of European government agencies driving the innovation agenda across cities in Europe, at the BEDA (The Bureau of European Design Association) Insights Forum in November in Brussels. I find that people are keen to hear about the Singapore experience. Something in the way in which Singapore drives innovation with a powerful combination of ambition and attention to implementation makes us a global innovation force to learn from.
What have you learnt in the recent months?
That we have to work very hard to raise awareness of Singapore’s design brand. Europe is a huge market with many opportunities for our designers and design brands, but currently the only Asian design that most Europeans are aware of is Japanese, and maybe Korean. We can offer a unique point of view of Asian design, using the materials in our backyard in Southeast Asia and giving them a fresh modern take. This is something that Singapore, as a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan and modern city, could do very well.
Three words to describe the experience so far…
Gratifying, hectic and beautiful.
Is it glamorous to be a design ambassador? Is it all cheese and wine?
Yes, it IS glam. I cannot pretend otherwise. I live in one of the most beautiful cities on earth, and I have had the privilege of going to work functions in the most beautiful buildings in Paris, like the Louvre Museum, Hotel Crillon, and Musée d’Orsay, and access areas in these places that one would normally not be able to. It is not all cheese and wine, there is plenty of champagne and canapés too.
However, my favourite moments are still being able to work from home and catching up with the team in Singapore. I love writing, capturing my experiences and thinking on paper, with my coffee.