PDA 2018 Jurors’ Forum I


  1. Dr Hossein Rezai, Director of Web Structures and PDA 2016, Designer of the Year Recipient
  2. Daan Roosegaarde, Dutch Artist and Innovator, Founder of Studio Roosegaarde
  3. Chelsia Lau, Chief Designer of Shanghai Strategic Design Studio
  4. Mokena Makeka, Director of Makeka Design Lab


Lim Chong Jin, Director of School of Design, Temasek Polytechnic

A day after the President’s Design Award Jury Session concluded, four of our local and international jurors, Daan Roosegaarde, Mokena Makeka, Chelsia Lau and Dr Hossein Rezai, convened once again to participate in a forum for an audience of aspiring tertiary design students.

Set in a casual and light-hearted setting at the National Design Centre’s Auditorium, the forum, aptly titled “In Conversation with Designers: Design the Impossible” gave attendees the opportunity to pick the brains of the jurors – trailblazers in their own fields who have solved impossible problems with design.

The forum kicked off with a show-and-tell presentation by each of the design thought leaders on how they accomplished the impossible in their work. The audience was treated to a visual spectacle of Daan Roosegaarde’s ‘Smog Free Project’, the largest outdoor air purifier in the world which makes a smog ring out of one cubic kilometre of polluted air, and introduced to Mokena Makeka’s premium Agave spirit called ‘Makeka Mollometsi’, which is created from organic hand-selected agave grown exclusively in Lesotho using a method that protectss topsoil that is under constant erosion due to the country’s climate.

Dr Rezai, PDA Designer of the Year in 2016, showcased his impressive portfolio of fusion engineering works all over the world. Not to be outdone, Chelsia Lau demonstrated how she has achieved success as the Chief Designer at the Shanghai Strategic Studio of Ford Motor Company and how the organisation is constantly looking for ways for improvement in the current landscape of disruptive technology. A recurring theme shared amongst the jurors was the importance of designing beyond the project brief. They also reiterated the increasing importance to design for social impact.

When it came to the Question & Answer segment, moderator Lim Chong Jin, Director of Temasek Polytechnic’s award- winning School of Design, challenged the attendees to put the jurors on the spot with difficult and thought-provoking questions. From the questions asked, it was clear that the young audience did not hold back.

The burning question was: How do we make an impact with little or no experience? The replies from the jurors were unequivocal: “Use naivety to your favour as more senior and experienced designers bring a lot of bias from their years of practice. We have to try to unlearn our preconceived notions and not bring them to new projects so we have to start from scratch but young designers naturally have that.” Hopefully the affirmation inspired and encouraged the aspirants to forge their paths in the design world with fresh minds and energy.

The forum concluded with a quote that resonated with the day’s theme of designing for impact and to be constantly curious about learning. Shared by Daan Roosegaarde, this poignant quote from philosopher Marshall McLuhan stated: “There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”



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