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Design sector to get grants, tax incentives

Copyright 2014 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
 All Rights Reserved

IT is no secret that Singaporeans love to eat, shop and are constantly staying connected, using technology wherever they are.

With this in mind, the government, through the DesignSingapore Council, will help the food services, retail and infocomm sectors to step up their design capabilities over the next three years by giving businesses in these sectors support through design-adoption grants and tax incentives.

This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the opening of the National Design Centre (NDC) last night.

He said support will be extended to designers and design companies to cultivate design excellence, build capabilities in new and emerging areas of design such as service design, interaction design and design management, and to venture into overseas markets.

The design sector is coming alive here, and has been growing at the rate of 9 per cent a year in the last decade. Local designers have gained recognition, not only at home, but also overseas.

The NDC at 111 Middle Road - formerly the home of St Anthony's Convent and then the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts - is set to support the DesignSingapore Council's efforts to encourage design adoption by businesses and deepen the public's appreciation of design; it aims to become the place for designers and businesses to meet and exchange ideas, conduct business and to use the available facilities.

Regular business seminars, workshops, clinic consultations and knowledge-sharing sessions will be held there throughout the year.

Designers and businesses will also be able to get information on design assistance programmes and schemes, and be trained in design-thinking skills for problem-solving and innovation at the Design Thinking & Innovation Academy.

The DesignSingapore Council is also working with the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and SPRING Singapore to develop the IDA Labs@NDC, which will give designers, enterprises and the public access to equipment to build prototypes, test-bed new ideas - thus speeding up the development of new products and services.

The NDC comprises three pre-war art deco blocks and one post-war modern block, which have been gazetted for conservation.

In 2011, SCDA Architects was appointed to restore and adapt them for re-use.

The centre's main design feature are its four cantilevering and overlapping translucent "boxes" within a central covered atrium. These metal-screened boxes link the gallery and meeting spaces in the upper floors, creating spaces for meetings and innovation.

The interconnected boxes are detached from the external facade, creating a three-storey high ceiling for visual interest in the gallery space.

The space creates a strong visual juxtaposition with the external conserved facade.

The chapel that used to belong to the convent has been converted into an auditorium, with metal mesh panels across the ceiling to show off the old and the new.

Besides housing the DesignSingapore Council, the NDC has six design-related tenants - production company Industry+; Spanish specialist design consultancy firm fuelfor; brand consultancy firm Jones Knowles Richie; kapok, a lifestyle shop founded in Hong Kong; UX Consulting, a user-experience research and design firm and Italian consultancy firm Zobele Group.

Zarani Risjad, a spokesman for Industry+, said the company hoped to contribute actively to design here, and to engage and collaborate with designers here.

She said: "We believe NDC will be a great place to do that. We would like to use NDC as a base camp for our activities, an active and creative centre from which we are able to broadcast news about design in Singapore to the rest of the world."

The official opening of the NDC marks the launch of the inaugural Singapore Design Week, which brings together a collection of more than 50 local and international design activities at the centre and other venues.

tay suan chiang

Last Updated on : 30 Jan 2015