Singapore’s creative economy is in full bloom

This year’s Innovation by Design conference – organised by the DesignSingapore Council – attracted a diverse line up of international creatives. From left, fashion accessories designer Beatrix Ong; Low Cheaw Hwei, head of design at Philips ASEAN Pacific; Patrick Chia, director of the Design Incubation Centre; and Ernesto Quinteros, chief design officer at Johnson & Johnson; Mauro Porcini, chief design officer at PepsiCo; Ford Motor Co chief designer Chelsia Lau; architect André Fu, founder of AFSO; and Daan Roosegaarde, artist and founder of Studio Roosegaarde. Photography: Jovian Lim

During the past five decades, the Lion City has built a strong reputation as a global business and tourism hub, attracting an ever more discerning and cosmopolitan community of global travellers who seek to immerse themselves in different cultures and build deeper connections with each visit.

Singapore has worked hard to develop a reputation for infrastructure, safety, stability, connectedness and accessibility. It is no wonder it has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design, or as Ernesto Quinteros, chief design officer at Johnson & Johnson likes to call it, ‘a hybrid-vigour epicentre’ for a global talent pool of designers, architects, thinkers, engineers and entrepreneurs, and ‘an East-meets-West intersection of design and technology, fashion and tradition’.

‘Singapore is like entering a parallel dimension, totally projected into the future, conceived and produced by the imagination, the spirit of innovation and the creativity of its people,’ Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo’s chief design officer, told Wallpaper* during Singapore Design Week’s Innovation by Design conference. ‘In the streets of Singapore nature dances with architecture and architecture challenges the laws of nature, creating jazz for your eyes, food for your mind and inspiration for your soul.’

Even more visual music and eye candy is currently under construction at Jewel, a S$1.7bn ten-level development at Changi airport that, when completed in 2019, will feature an ambitious mix of mall, check-in, hotel and transit facilities, complete with a five-storey-high garden and a 40m waterfall.

Jewel is the work of Israel-born architect Moshe Safdie, best known in Singapore for creating the country’s most striking silhouette, the triptych towers of the Marina Bay Sands casino resort. ‘Singapore is probably at the forefront, worldwide, of publicly-initiated urban design, and also in massive and ambitious landscaping of the urban environment,’ says Safdie. ‘I believe this is an extraordinary collective achievement, a massive undertaking which has had a tremendous effect on the lives of its people.’

The enterprising, persevering hybrid vigour spirit is articulated in a new Singapore Tourism Board tagline, ‘Passion Made Possible’, intended to market Singapore on the global stage for both tourism and business. A collaboration between the Singapore Tourism Board, Economic Development Board and the Ministry of Communications and Information, the agencies’ first joint brand is a bold move to showcase Singapore’s unique attitude and mindset.

‘With “Passion Made Possible”, STB is presenting a brand that can tell a fuller Singapore story beyond just tourism,’ explains Lionel Yeo, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board. Designed to build a deeper and more personal connection with Singapore’s millions of visitors, and to serve as a unifying brand for Singapore on the international front, the ‘Passion Made Possible’ brand is aimed at ‘sophisticated tourists who are seeking more aspirational value propositions in their travel’.

‘Singapore is making the shift from being primarily an investment-driven economy to one that will be led by innovation,’ says Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of Singapore’s Economic Development Board. ‘Singapore and Singaporeans are where we are today because we pushed the limits of what’s possible, and did not allow constraints to hold us back.’

The October issue of Wallpaper* – our landmark 21st birthday edition – includes a Singapore Revealed special supplement, bringing the island city state’s ‘Passion Made Possible’ philosophy alive via a profiles, products and destinations. Edited by Wallpaper* contributor Daven Wu, the project channels the zeitgeist to explore the personalities, activity and industry generated by Art Stage Singapore, the Singapore Biennale and Singapore Design Week – all now well-established events on the calendar.

We discovered that the island’s creative community incorporating into their work issues of ecology, aged care, education and public housing, as well as breaking new ground in new construction techniques. ‘Most intriguingly, from coast to coast, the buzzword we kept coming up against was “innovation”,’ writes Wu. ‘Not innovation for its own sake, but rather innovation in terms of business and design. Remarkably, for a country that’s barely 700 sq km, it looks as if Singapore is showing us all the way.’

[“Source-wallpaper”]