DESIGN FUTURES FORUM 2023

The Design Futures Forum will return from 1 to 2 October 2024.
Explore this page to learn more about the 2023 Forum, and watch the Segment videos.

How can we optimise our design efforts today to achieve progression toward better futures in the most critical areas? The Design Futures Forum 2023 is a special-edition event marking the DesignSingapore Council’s 20th anniversary, and 20 years of design’s evolution and potential as a multiplier for impact across contexts. 

Featuring a diverse line-up of distinguished speakers from Singapore and around the world, the forum will examine three key areas design can – and must – address when it comes to designing for better futures: the future of sustainability, emerging tech and care. 

From investigating how designers can play a key role in addressing the urgent symptoms of human-caused environmental breakdown in the areas of how we work, travel, feed, and house ourselves; to ways in which design can be mobilised to shape a more inclusive and meaningful future of technology; to how care can be reconceived as a multi-layered exchange between care services and personal direction; the forum will present the embodiment of Singapore design in a global context, where design is born from a strong sense of creative purpose and crafted for positive impact. 

The Design Futures Forum will also be a platform for the worlds of design, business, and the social and public sectors to come together, empowering each individual and organisation to recognise their role as we design for better futures, together.  

The Design Futures Forum 2023: Design for Better Futures is organised by the DesignSingapore Council. 

SEGMENTS & SPEAKERS

Segment 1: Design for the Future of Sustainability

“The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived,” warned UN Secretary General António Guterres after scientists confirmed that the summer of 2023 has been the hottest on record. Coupled with a 69% biodiversity loss since 1970, it is no exaggeration to say that our planet is at a pivotal point, one in which many of our living systems are at serious risk.

For Singapore and the rest of the industrialised world, addressing the consequences of human impacts and the resultant ecological breakdown means we must transform our current ways of doing things. This includes how we feed and house ourselves, build businesses, power our homes and offices and, for designers, how we create products, services and spaces. Designers can and must play a key role in shaping this transformation, safeguarding our planet’s life-supporting systems, while also meeting fundamental human needs for all members of society.

This segment brings together inspiring designers who are pushing boundaries in designing for sustainability at individual and systemic scales: shifting mindsets and behaviours, devising zero-waste materials flows, and decarbonising our built environment. At the same time, they design ethically by ensuring that the lives of previously excluded or underserved communities are improved.

As an island nation, Singapore has and can continue to serve as a testbed for cutting-edge sustainable urban systems. Our panel demonstrates the essential role of harnessing design to leap further and faster than ever before, towards a better future.

CLICK TO WATCH: SEGMENT 1: DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY 

Shigeru Ban
CEO, Shigeru Ban Architects

Wendy Chua
Co-founder, Forest & Whale

Prasoon Kumar
Co-founder and CEO, BillionBricks

Catherine Loke
President, The Circle for Human Sustainability

Joelle Chen
Head of Sustainability, Asia, Lendlease

Segment 2: Design for the Future of Emerging Tech

What does our digital future look like? This session delves into the topic with the planners, designers, and architects who will be shaping a new era of the digital age. In this discussion, we explore what an increasingly digitalised economy and society mean for the future of design, and why design is essential to the future of emerging tech. Through this, we will delve into the different visions of our digital future and the technologies that are central to their realisation.

CLICK TO WATCH: SEGMENT 2: DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE OF EMERGING TECH

Chng Kai Fong
Permanent Secretary (Development), Ministry of Communications and Information

Dr Deb Goswami
Structured and Generative AI Technologist for Developer Programmes, Asia Pacific South, NVIDIA

Kay Poh Gek Vasey
Founder, The MeshMinds Foundation

Dr Ming Tan
Founding Executive Director, Tech for Good Institute

Segment 3: Design for the Future of Care

How might we collectively reimagine a thriving future of care, driven by design? Systems of care span the micro to macro level, encompassing individual responsibility, community support, specialised expertise, and systemic structures. Designing for the future of care requires recognising and understanding its multifaceted nature.

This segment brings together provocateurs and pioneers in the world of care. We discuss care from different perspectives: beginning with empowering individuals to take responsibility for their own fitness and well-being; to strengthening communities of care in close-knit families, neighbourhoods and shared-interest groups; to creating empathetic specialised care services through the social and healthcare sectors; and finally driving national-level policy to establish systems of care.

The thread that connects these complex layers is design, which can weave together multiple stakeholders, define new insights, nudge behaviour, change mindsets and harness emerging technology to drive fresh outcomes. But what role does design currently play in the world of care, and how might we better bring designers to the table? This panel both provokes and rallies the design and care community to join this crucial conversation, paving the way for a future of care that is comprehensive, inclusive, and responsive to the diverse needs of individuals and communities alike.

CLICK TO WATCH: SEGMENT 3: DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE OF CARE

Rama Gheerawo
Designer and Author of Creative Leadership: Born from Design

Lee Poh Wah
CEO, Lien Foundation

Lim Sze Ling
Chief Transformation Officer, Public Service Division, ServiceSG

Dr Steven Tucker
Founder, Tucker Medical
Director, Cedars-Sinai Regional Office, Singapore

Dr Tom Waller
Sports, Health & Fitness Innovation Executive

Tamsin Greulich-Smith
Director, School of X, DesignSingapore Council

SPEAKER & MODERATOR BIOS

CEO, Shigeru Ban Architects 

Shigeru Ban founded Shigeru Ban Architects in 1985. He became a consultant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1995 and established the Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN), a non-government organisation, in the same year to support disaster relief. Some of Ban’s notable works include the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Oita Prefecture Art Museum, Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre, Musical Complex of La Seine Musicale, and Swatch Omega Headquarters.

Ban was one of the “distinguished thinkers and practitioners” selected as an ambassador for the New European Bauhaus roundtable in 2021 and is currently a Special Guest Professor at Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord (Spain, 2022), the Mother Teresa Social Justice Award (India, 2017), the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon (Japan, 2017), the Pritzker Architecture Prize (USA, 2014), and many others.

Photo courtesy of Shigeru Ban.

 

Co-founder, Forest & Whale

Based in Singapore and Berlin, Wendy Chua is an interdisciplinary design researcher, curator, and educator. Her practice Forest & Whale, co-founded with Gustavo Maggio, envisages design as an agent of change to create an impact in social and environmental care. Forest & Whale designs products, services, and museum experiences that redefine the way we live, from homeware objects and furniture systems to new models of care in ageing societies.

Chua and Maggio have received accolades such as the prestigious President*s Design Award and the 2023 EU S+T+ARTS residency. Their work has been exhibited in the Triennale di Milano and San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design, among others. As a design anthropologist, swimming between the fields of marine science, environmental humanities, and design, Chua is currently exploring how we might model art-science climate inquiry to make sense of the coastal threats of marine heatwaves and harmful algal blooms.

Photo by Michelle Mantel.

 

Co-founder and CEO, BillionBricks

Prasoon Kumar is the Co-founder and CEO of BillionBricks, pioneer of the world’s first income-generating, net-zero home and community. Kumar founded BillionBricks in 2013 as a non-profit, impacting the lives of over 15,365 homeless people in nine countries since then. In 2020, he strategically transformed BillionBricks into a venture-funded for-profit enterprise, extending its influence and impact as a leading sustainable and affordable housing innovator. 

Kumar is a World Trade Organisation Business Advisor, TEDx speaker, and social justice campaigner working towards solving the climate and housing crisis. He began his career as an architect working in design firms across India, the USA, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Under Kumar’s leadership, BillionBricks has garnered global recognition and has received the President’s Design Award in Singapore (2018 and 2020), an INDE.Award in Australia (2022), a Global Holcim Commendation Award (2021), and the ENGIE Innovation Trophy (2020). 

Photo courtesy of Prasoon Kumar.

 

President, The Circle for Human Sustainability

Catherine Loke is a Partner at Lander Loke Architects and Founding President of Singapore-based society The Circle for Human Sustainability. She was the First Vice-President of the Singapore Institute of Architects from 2018-2020 and is currently a Member of the Board of Architects Singapore. As an educator, she has been teaching at the National University of Singapore since 2017. She is also currently involved in a Capstone project at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and the formulation of a course on sustainability at Temasek Polytechnic.

Catherine has a deep interest in how the built environment is designed, the economics of sustainability, and what motivates human behaviour. She is regularly invited to speak on subjects ranging from architectural practice to sustainability, urban farming, and economics. In recognition of her contribution to the industry, she was awarded the Women of the Built Environment Award at the RICS Awards 2020 Southeast Asia.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Loke.

 

Head of Sustainability, Asia, Lendlease

Joelle Chen leads the implementation of Lendlease’s sustainability strategy in Asia, leveraging technical capabilities, organisational best practices, and external partnerships to deliver its ‘Mission Zero’ and social value targets. She is a trained architect and draws on 20 years of experience in stakeholder engagement and ecosystem development in the sustainable built environment.

Chen was the first Asia Pacific Head for the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), spearheading net-zero carbon and healthier buildings in the region. Her time at WorldGBC saw 25% more APAC Green Building Councils commit to net-zero transformation in their countries. She previously headed the Smart Sustainable Cities team at the Singapore Economic Development Board, driving public-private partnerships through innovation platforms (“Living Labs”) such as NTU EcoCampus, HDB Smart Hub, and many more. Chen holds a master’s in architecture from the National University of Singapore, and an MBA from the Singapore Management University.

Photo courtesy of Joelle Chen.

 

Permanent Secretary (Development), Ministry of Communications and Information

Chng Kai Fong is currently Permanent Secretary (Development), Ministry of Communication and Information. He also holds the positions of Permanent Secretary (Development) of the Smart Nation and Digital Government group and Permanent Secretary (Development) (Cybersecurity) in the Prime Minister’s Office.

He was the Managing Director of Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) for four years before his term ended in October 2021. Before EDB, he was the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister of Singapore. He had also served in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Civil Service College, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Ministry of Communications and Information. As part of the Public Service’s development programme, he was also seconded for two years to Shell Eastern Petroleum.

Photo courtesy of Chng Kai Fong.

 

Structured and Generative AI Technologist for Developer Programmes, Asia Pacific South, NVIDIA

Dr Deb Goswami is currently responsible for growing NVIDIA’s Accelerated Data Science and Machine Learning developer practice in the Asia Pacific (APAC) South as well as Australia and New Zealand regions. With over a decade of expertise in scaling and enabling enterprise AI in the region, Goswami is passionate about supporting the developer ecosystem in the AI journey.

Prior to joining NVIDIA, Goswami worked on challenging AI problems across a variety of verticals in the APAC region, including media (SPH, Head of Data), e-commerce (Traveloka, Head of AI), adtech (Dentsu Aegis Network, Data Scientist) and telco/oil and gas (Reliance Industries, Data Scientist). Goswami read his PhD in face recognition from the University of Surrey, where he also studied for his BEng (Hons) in electronic engineering.

Photo courtesy of Dr Deb Goswami.

 

Founder, The MeshMinds Foundation

Kay Poh Gek Vasey is a technology lawyer turned entrepreneur focused on creating immersive and interactive experiences that promote climate and cultural literacy amongst youth and online communities. In 2023, she spearheaded the development of Sky Farm Island, the first vertical farming game set in Asia on Roblox, which serves to motivate children to cultivate and consume healthy produce. She also led the creation of Aquasia, launched at the VR Gallery at the ArtScience Museum – a captivating metaworld that she hopes will inspire young minds on the future of human habitats in the face of rising sea levels.

Vasey was previously Head of Arts at the British Council in Singapore and remains a UK-qualified solicitor. She has also co-authored two scientific research papers on the effects of virtual reality on human behaviour. She offers strategic consultancy on XR creation and production; metaverse pedagogy; digital sustainability; digital transformation; and the future of art and creativity.

Photo courtesy of Kay Poh Gek Vasey.

 

Founding Executive Director, Tech for Good Institute

Dr Ming Tan is the Founding Executive Director of the Tech for Good Institute, a non-profit founded to catalyse research and collaboration on social, economic, and policy trends accelerated by the digital economy in Southeast Asia. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore and Advisor to the Founder of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 15 countries worldwide.

Tan also serves as a Council Member of the Council for Board Diversity, and on the boards of COMO Foundation, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, (Singapore’s national performing arts centre), and the Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC). She was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group.

Photo courtesy of Dr Ming Tan.

 

Designer and Author of Creative Leadership: Born from Design

Human first, designer second. Rama Gheerawo is an international and inspirational speaker, author, and designer. His first solo book, Creative Leadership: Born from Design, was published in 2022 by Lund Humphries. He won a Hall of Fame award in the UK’s Design Week Awards in 2019 and was named a Creative Leader by Creative Review in 2018 alongside Paul Smith and Björk.

As Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, he uses design to address issues around age, ability, gender, and race. He is a serial innovator in the fields of inclusive design, design thinking, and creative leadership, having personally led around 100 projects. He has worked internationally with governments, business, academia, and the third sector. Gheerawo champions inclusive and empathic approaches for individuals and organisations through his pathfinding work in creative leadership, with training delivered globally. He sits on a number of advisory boards and committees for awards, universities, and organisations, and has been a Visiting Professor at a number of international institutions.

Photo by Ezzidin Alwan.

 

CEO, Lien Foundation

Describing himself as radicalised during formative careers in the private and public sectors, Lee Poh Wah is the CEO of Lien Foundation where he has developed the grant-making approach of ‘Radical Philanthropy’. Prioritising risk-taking and relationships with partners over theories of change and KPIs, the Lien Foundation is recognised as a first-mover driving improvements in early childhood development and eldercare.

Over the years, some of the Lien Foundation’s projects have been mainstreamed while others failed spectacularly, providing humus for future shoots and lessons in “fool-lanthropy”. Lee believes in enlisting the unquiet intellect of designers, scientists, technologists, and artists to create new solutions for the health and social care sectors.

Photo courtesy of Lee Poh Wah.

 

Chief Transformation Officer, Public Service Division, ServiceSG

Lim Sze Ling is the Chief Transformation Officer at ServiceSG, a department of the Public Service Division. She is responsible for driving transformation efforts in public services for citizens. Her team works collaboratively with fellow public agency colleagues to develop new solutions and streamline existing processes in order to enhance the citizen experience of government services.

Lim started her career in the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and has a decade of international customer engagement experience, especially in healthcare industry development and investment promotion. She subsequently shifted her focus internally to organisation development and transformation. Lim’s experience in transformation has been in the areas of business model innovation, digital marketing, tech, and service experience.

Photo courtesy of Lim Sze Ling.

 

Founder, Tucker Medical
Director, Cedars-Sinai Regional Office, Singapore

Dr Steven Tucker is a physician, entrepreneur, and health futurist. In 2011, he founded Tucker Medical, a Singapore-based specialty practice dedicated to providing comprehensive, team-based care and prevention to patients across the health-disease continuum. In addition to patient care, Dr Tucker is a professional speaker, foresight strategist, and consultant. He advises start-ups, venture funds, multinationals, and governments on integrating new technologies into health and medicine, helping to shape the future of healthcare.

He has held influential medical roles at Singtel, MetLife Asia, the Lumen Lab Innovation Centre, and CXA Group. Dr Tucker trained in Internal Medicine, Haematology, and Oncology, at the UCLA Centre for Health Sciences and joined the UCLA faculty as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in 1999. He is a Fellow of both the Singapore Academy of Medicine and the American College of Physicians.

Photo courtesy of Dr Steven Tucker.

 

Sports, Health & Fitness Innovation Executive

Dr Tom Waller is a pioneering industry executive with over 20 years of experience leading innovation and driving global growth for major brands including adidas, lululemon, and Speedo. His human-first philosophy and unique integration of creative, scientific, and technical disciplines have impacted athletes and consumers on the world’s biggest stages. His teams have created iconic products, novel brand positioning, and business ‘unusual’ developments, generating billions of dollars, winning gold medals, setting world records, and impacting the culture of sports, health, and fitness at a massive scale. For example, his team at Lululemon drove the development the “Align” leggings as part of creating Lululemon’s Science of Feel™️ platform, which brought together a new approach of sensory engineering across the entire product ecosystem.

His relentless exploration of the human condition and strategic pursuit of value creation in what he calls the ‘feel economy’, drive his endeavours as an entrepreneur, innovation consultant, TEDx speaker, mountain adventurer, and endurance athlete to disrupt industry and society for all.

Photo courtesy of Dr Tom Waller.

 

Director, School of X, DesignSingapore Council

Tamsin Greulich-Smith is Director of the School of X at the DesignSingapore Council, building human-centred design skills whilst tackling social challenges. She also leads the Council’s organisation transformation design agenda and is a faculty member at the national Centre for Healthcare Innovation. Tamsin has 25 years’ experience delivering transformation programmes, integrating human-centred design, communications, and strategy practices to create positive impact in complex environments.

Previously, she founded and led the Smart Health Leadership Centre at the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Systems Science, to transform health outcomes through design, data, and digital technology. She guided the development of the transformation roadmap for Yishun Health (previously Alexandra Heath System), led the first Sector Design Challenge on behalf of the National Council of Social Service, and developed SG Enable’s Social Outcomes Measurement Toolkit for the Enabling Lives Initiative. In the UK she ran an innovation strategy firm that specialised in strategic design across public and private sectors.

Photo courtesy of Tamsin Greulich-Smith.