Sunday, September 09, 2007

Better Design = Better Living

I came across this competition series in Singapore a bit late, but as it prepares to enter a third phase (of three phases), it still seems topical. Simply stated, the so-called "10TouchPoints" consists of three interdependent phases: the first, a public vote for Singapore's 10 worst-designed public items; the second, designers compete to redesign each item; the third, winning 'redesigns' are implemented.

The ten items for redesign are public toilets, bus shelters, recycling bins, mailboxes, playgrounds, bicycle dismounting system, hospital signage, takeaway mealboxes, multipurpose IDs, and drains/canals. The Competition Submission for all items closed in July and it appears that winners will (or have) be announced on the website shortly.

10TouchPoints is an initiative of DesignSingapore (a public council steering a national design agenda, of which competitions, exhibitions, and design festivals have been borne as of late) and includes partners and supporters from several corporations and local agencies. What was most impressive was the bredth of engagement in the series including exhibits and workshops where public could comment on the 10 items selected for redesign, a series of short videos by local filmmakers on the role of design in our lives, extensive resources on accessibility, usability, and universality in design, and competition jury workshops with representatives from applicable implementing public agencies to refine each design brief - all of which are available on their website.

An excerpt from 10TouchPoints introduction to the redesign challenge:

"10TouchPoints seeks to demystify design. Not just about relative coolness and high prices, or what you see on the glossy pages for the hip and rich. Design makes up what is around you. Design is about the relationships people forge with things. Design is thus something we value as it has an effect on how we get to work, better communicate and the energy we save.

10 TouchPoints is a call for good design. Good design puts people in the centre of the design process. It incorporates systems thinking, technology, historical and contextual relevance. It is economically viable. It is informed by ethics and responsibility without impeding social and technical innovation. It is beautiful.

10TouchPoints is the opportunity for us all to positively impact our surroundings and how we live. It is a voicebox for you opinions as users to be heard as you vote for what can be better designed. For designers, it is a challenge to produce the best redesign solutions for implementation, while getting the chance to win attractive prizes and bringing your share to better living. For service providers, it is a platform to tap into users' insights and using the best design solutions to remake and enhance existing items and services for the people."

While I admire the charge, I admit that I am viewing this rosy from afar and cannot comment on its real effectiveness in Singapore. However, this presents a convenient excuse to travel to Southeast Asia and stay in the world's second-most densely populated country.


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