Wendy Chua is our DesignSingapore Scholar 2021. She will be embarking on an adventure overseas as she pursues the Master of Arts in Open Design at the Humboldt University of Berlin and University of Buenos Aires. Not just an accomplished multi-disciplinary designer, Wendy has also been teaching design for a decade. She desires to give back to the next generation of designers, and while she is at it, she is also looking at ways to combat sustainability issues and improving quality of lives.
1. How would you describe yourself in 50 words?
A seasonal nomad between Singapore and Buenos Aires, I am an interdisciplinary designer, curator and educator. Daughter of a seamstress, I seek to uncover the tacit knowledge of craft and find joy in material exploration. Drawn to the needs of marginalised communities, I delve into the design of inclusive spaces for persons with disabilities and dementia.
2. Why did you decide to pursue a career in design?
I have been eager to go back to school and learn like a fresh sponge again. But I was waiting for a course that could take me into the gaps between fields of knowledge. The Masters of Open Design is exactly that. It is an interdisciplinary course that thrives on the edges, helping one to gain a foothold on becoming a cross-pollinator with the comprehensive vision of spanning the natural science, humanities and media technologies, while equipping one with the skills to take a thin slice and deep dive into a particular domain.
3. Why did you apply for the DesignSingapore Scholarship?
It is important to be in Berlin to study this course and be immersed in the rich exchange that takes place in person during seminars and workshops. The scholarship provides the financial support to make this possible.
4. What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? Who inspires you?
Someone said that the shelf life of knowledge has become shorter in a world constantly disrupted by technological leaps. I have been hungry to unlearn and relearn. The academic framework helps to provide the environment to train our mind like a muscle. We need to stay agile mentally and creatively to counter the challenges that our societies will have to grapple with in the next decades.
My mentors inspire me. Prof Masayo Ave in Berlin, my dear friend Hong Ling in New York City, and my mentor Sabrina Long in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts are some of the people who have taught me by example. They are tireless and have more energy than my 18-year-old students. Constantly pushing boundaries, yet they are grounded in their approach, always putting one foot ahead of the other. Their living philosophies inspire me.
5. Please share with us an interesting and lesser-known fact about yourself.
I am mother of Lila, who is 22-month-old now (as of August 2021).
6. What are your goals/plans after you graduate? How might you want to give back to the design sector/community?
I will return to teaching in an adjunct capacity. The best way to give back is by educating the next generations of designers. I cannot wait to share what I have been learning and explore new creative methodologies with my students.
At the same time, I see that many societal problems require fielding interdisciplinary teams to find a creative resolution. There is no single truth. It is a constant iterative process of trial and error, with inputs from diverse people from the grassroots to the government. I am interested to see how I can apply such interdisciplinary methods to create more inclusive communities for marginalised groups. This builds on the projects I am currently a part of that reimagines our neighbourhoods for persons with disabilities and dementia.