Setting the stage for a creative economy
How it began, where it is today, how might it be in the future: the state of design in Singapore. A six-part report by DesignSingapore Council.
Gardens by the Bay (Bay South Garden). Photo: Gardens by the Bay
Singapore is a modern city-state located in Southeast Asia, with a Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. It has a free-market economy, supported by multinational corporations, solid financial institutions and world-class universities.
With no natural endowment and land scarcity, Singapore must rely on its creativity to develop practical solutions for various challenges. Policies are put in place to encourage its enterprises to use design and adopt innovation for productivity and economic competitiveness. Sustained improvements to policies and infrastructure ensure that Singapore remains a favourable place in Southeast Asia to conduct business.
Singapore has excellent flight connectivity with about 6,500 flights per week to more than 300 cities in over 70 countries and territories. International festivals, exhibitions and events are frequently held in the city-state’s excellent museums, heritage institutions and performing arts venues, making Singapore a desirable place to work, live and play.
Singapore has a population of 5.5 million, of which 3.9 million are local residents of Chinese, Malay, Indian or European origin. They make up a collage of races, languages, religions and communities that contribute to Singapore’s diversity of culture and heritage. The diversity makes Singapore an attractive place to exchange ideas and to network.
Being densely-populated, Singapore’s urban design incorporates smart solutions to meet the people’s needs for housing, healthcare, education and transportation. As a multi-racial and multi-religious society, Singapore also recognises the importance of fostering racial harmony, whilst improving the city’s liveability. Public housing policies are designed to discourage ethnic enclaves, whilst creating common meeting spaces for interaction, to engender harmonious relationship between ethnic groups.
Since independence, Singapore has prospered through an investment-led economy focused on the manufacturing and the service industry. Singapore is now striving to become a creative, innovation-based economy. Government initiatives such as the Creative Industries Development Strategy for the Arts and Culture, Design and Media sectors (2002), and establishment of DesignSingapore Council (2003) and National Design Centre (2013) demonstrate its commitment to the objective.