Gloria Ngiam and Nigel Geh were joint winners of Launch Pad Asia 2014 with their SPOT torchlight. Four years on, Gloria now works with DBS Innovation Group as an innovation designer. We find out more.
5 April, 2017
What was your situation when you won Launch Pad Asia in 2014?
At that time I had just returned from a summer exchange programme in Essen, Germany, feeling very inspired and creatively refreshed from the time I spent abroad. This was especially since it was my first time during the exchange that I had attended a large-scale international design event – Milan Design Week.
I was also waiting to start my final thesis year in NUS Division of Industrial Design. So I was feeling a little anxious but at the same time I had a head full of ideas as well, having been inspired from my experiences overseas.
What’s been happening for you since then?
So much has happened. I completed my thesis project in 2015, which was a speculative design project exploring the issue of digital technology and its social effects on privacy erosion. Then upon graduation I worked as a design researcher at the Design Incubation Centre, probing into the psychological concept of Priming. Some of the work I had done at DIC include the running and facilitation of design-thinking workshops, developing ideation tools such as a deck of ideation cards for Priming, and also executing a series of design projects with external collaborators.
I worked with the school leaders of Canberra Primary School and together with a colleague we ran a co-creation workshop with the students as part of the process of designing a creative space where students can collaborate with their peers. We also did a design trial with several classes where we designed and installed what I call Fidget Modules for every student. This was to test the hypothesis that providing the affordance for restless young students to fidget in their seats can help them lengthen their attention span during their lessons.
What was your most valuable take-away from Launch Pad Asia?
My most valuable take-away was to not let self-doubt cut you off prematurely from potential opportunities. I am quite an introvert and I always shied away from opportunities like taking part in competitions or attending industry networking events. To be honest it was Nigel who pushed for us to submit SPOT as an entry for Launch Pad Asia 2014. Since then I really realised the truth in the saying: if you don’t try, you will never know. Young designers should enter the competition simply because it doesn’t cost anything apart from your time and effort. It is also such a good opportunity to gain exposure and insight to the industry you will most likely be working in, especially with the mentorship programme [that Launch Pad provides]. The professional sharing and advice you will receive is invaluable. Nigel and I both had a great session with Hunn Wai; him sharing about his early beginnings as a young designer helped to quell a lot of the anxiety and insecurities we had as design students back then.
Tell us about what you’re doing now, career wise.
During my time at DIC I had developed a strong interest in user research, design processes, and design facilitation. That led me to where I am currently. I have recently joined the DBS Innovation Group as an innovation designer, and my core focus is on innovating and improving customer journeys across the bank’s services, both physical and digital. This is done through evangelising the 4D (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) innovation process to the bank’s various business units, as well as coaching and facilitating them in workshops so that ultimately we enable them to inherit the knowledge and carry out experiments themselves. The banking environment is still new to me, but I’m learning so much so quickly and as a designer it is always very exciting to be able to practice design in new domains.
In your opinion, what are the most important things young designers should keep in mind today?
Have creative courage, and have a mind of your own. As much as design is about having empathy for others, it is also a deeply self-reflective process. At the same time it is so important to have humility and an open heart/mind. We should always design for something greater than our own egos.
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