2nd Design Education Summit drives in-depth conversations on empowering the future workforce through

04 Feb 2021

The second edition of the Design Education Summit kicked off today with over 600 participants exchanging the latest in design education – from best practices to teaching tools that will help nurture the next generation workforce with design sensibilities to meet the needs of the future.

Organised by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), in partnership with the SUTD-MIT International Design Centre, the Summit is the first in Singapore to focus on design education. This year, the Summit is aimed at highlighting the importance of design as a strategic tool to help Singapore recover from the social and economic effects of the pandemic.

While traditionally relegated to the realm of aesthetics, design at its heart is a way of creative thinking to problem-solve and innovate, a skillset that is of strategic importance to a whole range of organisations - from multinational corporations to small and medium-sized enterprises and government agencies.

In a highly volatile economic landscape intensified by the on-going pandemic, uniquely human capabilities such as creativity, curiosity, empathy, and creative problem-solving have come to the fore as essential qualities critical to helping companies reinvent their core businesses, unlock new opportunities and discover new revenue streams. A design mindset encompasses and nurtures these human-centered qualities to achieve innovation and growth which underscores the need for design education and talent development programmes to be adapted to help our youth and workforce acquire the requisite skills needed to tackle intricate challenges in a turbulent world.

Guest-of-Honour Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Finance, said, “Today, we see the fingerprints of design in every sector. To develop a workforce adept at design thinking, we must start young. That is why our students are exposed to creative thinking as well as design principles and processes to help them think of novel solutions to address complex problems. Tie-ups between industry partners and Institutes of Higher Learning also provide students with valuable opportunities to apply what they learn, and to contribute to addressing society’s needs. The Design Education Summit is one of the ways to facilitate a robust exchange of ideas, and to learn from each other’s experiences.”

Reinforcing this point, Mr Mark Wee, Executive Director, Dsg, said, “Given the difficulties the pandemic has imposed on businesses and society at large, this Summit serves as an important reminder to the efficacy of design - from providing solutions to offering new and exciting opportunities. Having a design mindset and its associated skills is imperative to adapting to a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous or VUCA world. Augmented by other initiatives by the DesignSingapore Council, we aim to arm our young with the necessary tools to be creative and innovative to thrive in such an environment.”

To meet this objective, a strong line-up of local and International speakers from various educational institutions and the industry will be presenting best practices in design education via webinars, panels and workshops - providing a rare opportunity to learn from the best in the field and network to co-create strategies and exchange ideas on the adoption of design in education. Themes that will be explored at the event include: Using Design To Enhance Creativity In Education, Rethinking Design Projects In A Post-Pandemic World, and The Design Of Learning Experiences Using Play.

Keynote speaker, Ms Kim Saxe, Founding Director of Innovation Labs, The Nueva School, who strongly believes in the transformative power of design on the world said, “A design education provides students with the tools and confidence to generate solutions for any problem and to translate ideas into real outcomes.” She will share her experience of redesigning learning for students and illustrate how design-led creative thinking skills can be integrated into traditional school subjects to unlock creativity among the young.

Mr Pann Lim, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Kinetic Singapore and Holycrap.sg, will share his personal experience integrating design into all aspects of his work and life. Highlighting the pervasive nature of design as a way of creative thinking and problem solving, he said, “Design-led creative thinking skills are not exclusive properties of designers but can be harnessed by anyone. Design is part of all our lives.”

Other notable speakers at the summit include Pihla Meskanen (Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Arkki International, Finland), Tang Soo Yin (Deputy Director, Media, Arts & Design School, Singapore Polytechnic), Monica de Silva-Lim (Director, Rosebrook Development Centre), Hong Khai Seng (Founder and Director, Studio Dojo) and Madhu Verma (Founder and Director, Design for Change Singapore).

The Summit will also showcase an array of case studies of the successful implementation of design education, submitted by educators and students through Dsg’s Call For Stories On The Transformation Of Education Through Design. Eleven submissions were selected to be presented at the Summit to inspire educators interested in applying design in reimagining their classrooms. More details on the Call For Stories initiative can be found in Annex A.

The Summit is an initiative under the Design Industry Manpower Plan, an overarching talent development plan by Dsg that cuts across the learning continuum, starting from building awareness and nurturing mindsets in the young, to skills development and deepening abilities.

The second Design Education Summit is now a virtual full-day event which has provided the opportunity for it to be taken to the international stage, allowing participants and speakers from 15 different countries, from as far as the United States, Belgium and China to take part in the Summit. The first Design Education Summit in 2018 attracted close to 300 participants and speakers from four countries, including Germany, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, and Singapore. This year, the Summit drew over 500 participants and speakers from 12 countries including The United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, The United States, Spain, Belgium, China, India, The Philippines and Singapore. Refer to the event website for more details on the Summit and list of speakers.

Annex A

In the lead up to the second Design Education Summit, the DesignSingapore Council launched the Call For Stories initiative, inviting educators and students around the world to submit their experiences related to design education.

The stories encompassed how design has empowered individuals with the mindsets and skills for improving lives, as well as the struggles and challenges they met along the way. The open call also welcomed ongoing initiatives or specific projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 88 entries were received from 11 countries, including Singapore, India, The Philippines and Belgium. Of these, 11 submissions were selected to be presented at the Design Education Summit 2021 to inspire educators interested in applying design in reimagining their classrooms.

Winners of the Call for Stories on the Transformation of Education through Design

Category: Design in Learning



Muhammad Nazir Amir
Academy of Singapore

Country: Singapore
Designing and crafting their own toys enabled students to learn knowledge and skills across academic subjects
Harshit Thareja
Pearl Academy
Country: India
Students of Pearl Academy conceptualised a modular system that equips young children with life skills
Roel De Rijck and 
Joos Van Cauwenberghe
Country: Belgium
The programme incorporates empathy and co-designs with groups of youths to helps them build a successful career despite failing school grades
Jessica Cheng
St. Joseph’s Institution

Country: Singapore 
Technology was deployed to paint the school’s corridors in a new light

Category: Joy of Learning



Michelle Kan
Anderson Secondary School

Country: Singapore 
Empathy, independent learning and creative problem solving are some of the lessons students learn from the process
Aditya Batura

Country: Singapore
It launches Rolljak, a digital platform that gamifies design thinking theory and helps users apply it effectively
Norman Loh
Montfort Junior School

Country: Singapore
Students learn that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters
Ng Ding Xuan Andy,
Jasmine David and 
Jasjit Kaur  
St. Hilda’s Primary School

Country: Singapore
It comes up with a three-part progression plan that expands its students’ skillsets as they get older

Visit the Design Education Summit website to read more about each story: https://designeducationsummit.designsingapore.org/stories-on-design-in-education  

About DesignSingapore Council

DesignSingapore Council’s (Dsg) vision is for Singapore to be an innovation-driven economy and a loveable city through design by 2025. As the national agency that promotes design, our mission is to develop the design sector, help Singapore use design for innovation and growth, and make life better in this UNESCO Creative City of Design. www.designsingapore.org

About SUTD-MIT International Design Centre

The SUTD-MIT International Design Centre (IDC) is a world premier scholarly hub for technologically intensive design science, research and practice. It is a multi-million dollar centre based both in Singapore at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and in Cambridge, MA, USA at that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with academic and industrial partners from around the world.

IDC’s mission is to drive design research and innovation, in collaboration with a wide spectrum of global enterprise, government and social stakeholders. Specifically, it is defined by three core objectives: (1) To advance design theory and methodology, (2) To use design to address key societal challenges (3) To integrate design theory and methods with design practice. IDC faculty, researchers and students work together to design devices, products, systems, services and the built environment that address strategic needs of Singapore, the greater Asian region, the US, and the global community. The output of this environment and its partnerships are a talent pool for the next generation of technically-based leaders, world-class scholarship in a variety of research fields, and entrepreneurship as part of an innovation ecosystem.