Saturday, October 17, 2009

Designer Sensibilities

Photo by Ebee

Woogle Works participated in a design forum hosted by Design Circus entitled "Designer Sensibilities". Located at King Mongkut University of Technology, Bangkok, the speakers comprised of WAWO (Thailand), Anuthin Wongsunkakon (Thailand), Joseph Foo (Malaysia) and myself.

"How designers roles are shifting in society from mere planners and designers to curators, managers, consultants and so forth. What does it mean to be a designer here in SE Asia now in a time of economic recession? And how are creative individuals adding currency to the growing creative economies? What problems might they be trying to solve?" +Design Circus


A big chunk of the conversations revolved around why we chose to work in our homeland as opposed to working in overseas design locations. Culture and surprisingly language were the inspiration & barriers. Here is a simplified breakdown of the pros and cons of working overseas as opposed to staying local:

+ We provide an alternative way of seeing as a foreigner
+ Access to superior technology
+ Better chance of differentiating ourselves from the crowd
+ Exposure to a more active and dynamic design scene & trends

+ Need to learn the local culture, tradition and lifestyle as a foreigner
+ Competing with their local designers who have lived through the above
+ Discrimination [?] Alienated
+ Risk losing touch with our national and cultural identity


+ I draw inspiration from my culture, environment and identity to differentiate myself in the international design scene.

+ Malaysia has pretty impressive manufacturing resources of good quality and high technology. We don't really see their products because most of them end up overseas. If I can tap into this, the potential is massive.

+ Small creative collectives nurture each other.

+ I want to brand myself as a Malaysian designer.
Working overseas means branding myself as a product of that country.


Government support towards the design industry is never enough or sometimes non-existant. Many other countries suffer the same problem [in varying degrees]. So why wait for things to happen? Every effort by every designer big or small to execute creative activities will jointly create accumulative change. Lack of funding is merely an excuse because as designers we should utilize our creativity to work around this problem. The design process is flexible enough to manipulate itself around financial, political and social constraints.

Photo by Ebee
Note: The contents of this article do not solely represent the content of the forum. Some were issues I was interested in discussing but did not get a chance to present due to the flow & direction of the dialogue. Many thanks to Design Circus and the Thais for organizing this exchange.

More: Cool Stuff we saw at Bangkok

No comments: