DesignSingapore (Dsg) Scholars Azelia Ng and Chua Jia Xiang are making a positive impact through their design work. They credit their success to the support they received through the Dsg Scholarship which has enabled them to blossom into the successful designers they are today.
Design does not exist in a vacuum. Its purpose is to impact people and society as a force for good. The DesignSingapore (Dsg) Scholarship is aimed at developing the next generation of designers who are passionate about their craft to be game changers and leaders in Singapore’s design sector. The scholarship encompasses a holistic development experience, providing support for studies and networking opportunities. Scholars are designated as DesignSingapore Associates and enjoy access to projects and initiatives to develop themselves and Singapore’s design scene in tandem.
Azelia Ng and Chua Jia Xiang are two Dsg Scholars whose design careers have seen pivotal changes with the support of the Dsg Scholarship. Azelia is the Brand Manager of Allegro Print, an established print house, while Jia Xiang is currently the Principal Service Designer and Assistant Director at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
They both emphasised how the Dsg Scholarship played a pivotal role in their design journeys.
Unlocking The Value of Design
As someone who was intrigued by how graphic design forms part of our everyday life, Azelia was keen to pursue her passion in this area.
“Graphic design exists in our everyday lives and is so subtle that no one realises it. They are signages on the road, in buildings, and in the things, you consume, digital or print. I came to love these things, and everything visual and beautiful,” she shared.
The Dsg Scholarship has opened the doors for her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic and Media Design at the University of the Arts London, a well-established art and design university.
Azelia’s time in London was a transformational journey of education and exploration. Through the support of the scholarship, she was able to grow her network and learn from others while being exposed to a multitude of perspectives. “Dsg does their best to connect you to the right people for a project or to be in touch with a subject expert they have a connection to,” she said.
She is convinced that the support that she received made all the difference in her design career. “The scholarship enabled me to go abroad, where I cultivated my thought process and niche interest in printed matter, which had an immense impact on my career trajectory,” she mused.
Azelia currently wears many hats as the Brand Manager of Allegro Print. Aside from managing various brands, she is also very involved in design and product development for the brands and takes on business development work.
Azelia has helped to transform the business at Allegro by creating brands such as Oolors, ALL-BOOK-S and OFFCUT to diversify the company’s portfolio.
In particular, OFFCUT spearheads sustainability in design by repurposing waste paper into stationery and reducing actual offcuts. This initiative demonstrates that repurposed products can be affordable and thoughtfully designed without compromising on quality. OFFCUT was awarded the G Mark Japan Good Design Award 2021. This achievement was the first of its kind for a local print house to earn a global reputation.
Azelia aspires to continue making an impact through her designs.” My current ambition is to educate on the value of design in businesses and to help them communicate effectively with their audiences. I also hope to help brands grow in an organic and purposeful trajectory where purpose-driven and profit-driven are not mutually exclusive,” Azelia said.
Bringing Ideas to Life
Jia Xiang’s passion for service design sparked in him the desire to impact a wider community through his ideas.
“Service design is about co-creating a service experience with people to meet the user’s and stakeholder’s needs and aspirations for the future. It helps to create something of value to everyone in the service,” he said.
Today Jia Xiang is impacting lives through his work at TTSH. His team supports a spectrum of projects, ranging from initiatives to enable patient-centric care at a population health level, to ground-up projects such as point-of-care innovations.
One of these projects includes managing Living Lab, a maker space based at the Centre for Healthcare Innovation within Health City Novena. The Living Lab provides his team with the resources to translate ideas into prototypes and eventually bring them to life. He also uses lean, organisational development and design approaches to solve problems such as improving the patient transfer experience and streamlining work efficiency.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jia Xiang and his team used the design thinking approach to address the shortage of face shields in-house. “Our team worked rapidly with Infectious Disease physicians and infection control nurses to develop two face shield prototypes within two weeks, for production and use. This gave the hospital the assurance that should there be any disruption in international supply chains, we would still be able to manufacture our face shields locally and quickly,” he said.
This achievement merited his team an Exemplary Innovator Award at Public Service Division’s Public Sector Transformation Awards (Covid) 2022.
“I am proud I can be part of a team to deliver better care to our patients and residence in Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Central Health region,” Jia Xiang declared.
He is thankful for the support of the Dsg Scholarship which has paved a path for him to pursue his dreams. With the scholarship, Jia Xiang took up a Master of Arts in Service Design at the Royal College of Art. The scholarship also allowed him to be mentored by leading design practitioners and meet with thought leaders. He also connected with fellow scholars to engage in design conversations on critical issues.
“The DesignSingapore Scholarship provides not just financial support, it is holistic in its support for designers to excel in their fields by helping them expand their networks and build strong industry connections,” Jia Xiang mused.
Taking That Bold Step
The Dsg Scholarship was the first step towards success for both Jia Xiang and Azelia to develop their design careers and they hope to inspire many others to be bold in pursuit of their dreams.
Jia Xiang shared, “Do not think that you are not good enough to apply for a scholarship. I would not have gotten my chance if I did not take the first step to apply.”
“It is always worth trying. I would not have these opportunities, if I didn’t take that first bold step,” Azelia added.
This article was first published in BrightSparks February 2023 magazine. Reproduced with permission from Kariera Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
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