Introduction

Frequently referred to as the course platform through which one has the chance to earn back more than their entire tuition fees, this entrepreneurial course specialisation trains students to spot market opportunities and to serve those needs with a product, app or a service idea. The students are trained to be sharp and sensitive to human ‘need and want’ areas, and to envision and realise the relevant product and / or app solutions.

Beyond product creation, the students experience refining their products for the best resonance with their specific target audiences, and learn to develop the branding, language, tone-of-voice, and clever marketing visuals.

The signature feature of this course is that - as a criteria to pass - students are required to launch their projects for real - either via real investor pitch presentations, releasing their software on the app stores, or launching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. They learn to handle press publicity, customers, realistic prototype creation, sourcing and manufacturing production. If they have traction, they learn to refine their products for easy and reliable mass manufacturing, how to set up quality control, manage the supply logistics, and handle the legal administration and finances of a business. This platform has resulted in numerous spin-off businesses run by students and graduates, and has created some of the most notable entrepreneurial success stories from the university, including the KIN Wallet (it sorts your coins and notes automatically) which raised more than $320,000 in paid-up pre-orders, the Quotidian Pen ($71,000 on Kickstarter), the DAX Cascading Wallet ($73,000 on Kickstarter and a further sales of 76,000 pieces) and Levit8 the Flat-Folding Portable Standing Desk ($81,000).

Curriculum

Curriculum Overview Components

Identification of market opportunities, niches, and products of demand

Creating product/app/service solutions that are well targeted to the audience

Launching, promoting, producing and sustaining a product-based business

Key Learning Areas in terms of Thinking / Knowledge

Learning to identify what people want, buyer motivations, and the reasons for a purchase

Learning to create value propositions, new ideas for products and apps, to refine them for the best chance on the market, and to realise them as realistic prototypes

Creating a successful campaign on Kickstarter / Creating a compelling investor pitch

Key Skillset,Tool or Method Equipping Areas

Empathy tools, pseudo-product landing pages, analysis of the competitive landscape

Lateral thinking tools, reframing, problem-solving methods, product and app prototyping

Elevator pitches and hook statements, growth hacking, social media promotion, story-telling, marketing visuals, design for manufacturing

Projects

A

KIN WALLET

KIN is a wallet that automatically separates your coins and your notes – even when you deposit them into the same compartment from the top. The special mechanism prevents coins falling back, yet easily retrievable from a side opening.

This invention, currently undergoing patent filing, is created by a team of 3 students during this platform course. It went viral on international news and raised more than $320,000 in online pre-sales and Kickstarter. The students have now launched a new company with this product.

Cheryl Ho, Lim Li Xue, and Ng Ai Ling

B

QUOTIDIAN PEN

This is the World’s First Magnetic Propulsion Pen, with a unique and never-seen before magnetic mechanism that uses the strong attraction and repelling forces of Neodymium magnets to unlock the pen nib, changing the way one uses and fidgets with a pen. Made from precision-machined metal and is offered in aircraft-grade aluminium and solid brass, this project, by a team of 3 students during this platform course, raised more than $71,000 in pre-sales on Kickstarter. They have successfully spun off as a new brand on the market.

Tony Chui, Wilmer Tay and Yong Zi Fong

C

DAX

Many innovations on slim and minimalist wallets make cards inconvenient to access as all cards are squeezed in a single compartment. Inspired by mobile app interfaces, DAX is a pull-tab wallet that allows cards to be accessed easily and beautifully. Simply pull the tab and watch your cards cascade with a splash of colors!

Dax raised $73,000 in pre-orders on Kickstarter and as a subsequent business, went on to sell another 76,000 units of the product via DesignNest within a year.

Low Joo Tat, Yeo Wan Jun, Jeff Bogue

D

LEVIT8

LEVIT8 is an affordable and multi-purpose flat folding portable standing desk. From what seems like an unassuming magazine, it transforms any ordinary desk into a sit-stand desk with just a twist.

It has no parts and no assembly; its functionality and form originates from a simple origami technique - the box-spiral fold. Levit8 raised $81,000 in pre-orders on Kickstarter, and as a subsequent business, went on to sell another 25,000 units of the product via DesignNest within a year.

Poh Hui Qing, Andriana Justine, Letitia Lim

Alumni

Afzal Imran

Afzal graduated in 2014 and is the Co-Founder of Proper People
Q
How was it to start up?

It is not like the starting phase is over but now it’s more like getting used to this feeling. When we meet other start-ups I feel like everyone’s fighting the same battle. Fighting against time and the demands of clients.

Q
Why NUS DID?

Basically I applied to both DID and NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media (ADM). When I went for the ADM Tea Party, an ADM Year 3 or 2 student told me to go to NUS, haha! That sealed the deal. Because at that point I didn’t understand, I guess. I had not been looking at design seriously until I applied. When I applied I was still very clueless, I didn’t know how to find out about stuff. But now I’m very glad.

Q
What is the best project you’ve worked on?

We are starting a new label called State Property. It’s going to be fine jewellery and objects. The twist we hope to give is that we want to come up with fine jewellery that people can wear every day with a different look.









Joyce & Weiyan

LLi Liting Joyce and Chen Weiyan graduated in 2011 and are the founders of In Merry Motion
Q
How did this partnership come about?

J: It was just one of those moments— we were graduating soon and were thinking about our future jobs. I think Weiyan and I already knew that we didn’t want to go into the traditional type of industrial design. That does not excite us at all. But being under Prof. Hans in our final year in DID really opened up the world of design to us. Like design thinking and design opportunities rather than problem solving. I think that's where we shared really great sentiments. If I were to backtrack to our first partnership, it was when we did a school project together in Year 3.

Q
Why did you guys join DID?

W: Haha I do not have a smart answer for that. After graduating from junior college, I just knew I wanted to do design. I searched for design courses and only NUS DID and NTU ADM came up. I decided on NUS DID as I felt that visual communication could be explored in my own time.

Q
What was your experience in DID like?

J: It’s a lot of character-building and exposure to different parts of design like design thinking, experience design and human research.

W: Year 4 was the most memorable time, those moments of struggling. Which is why I really respect Prof. Hans. He stood by us even though we didn't have a concept, or even when our concept sucked.

He always had a way of showing us, showing me perspectives, and changing our perspectives about things.









Edwin Low

Low Chee Siong, Edwin graduated in 2004 and is the founder of Supermama
Q
What were your favourite times in DID?

I think Taiwan, my very first trip to Taiwan. With the seniors, in year 1 and year 2. It was a trip organised by the school. A few of us signed up, it was an eye opener.

Q
What is Supermama to you?

I think Supermama is a calling to me. I started Supermama to take a break from my work, from the structures of life, to give myself a lot more free time to see what I could churn out and also to spend time with my kids. Before that, I was the course manager for the experience design programme in Singapore Polytechnic (SP).

I think it's every industrial designer's dream to start a design shop. To be honest, when I started Supermama, it was not supposed to survive for more than a year.

(Supermama has now past its 6th year, and is a thriving design retail business.)









Vivienne Lin

Lin Mei Ling, Vivienne graduated in 2003 and is the founder of Fuchsia Lane
Q
How did Fuchsia Lane come about?

It came about because I wanted to do something meaningful and create value for people. I believe in creating beautiful clothes for people which can really transform them.

Q
Was the move from industrial design to fashion very difficult?

I would say yes and no. Yes because I did not have any experience or a degree in fashion so it was not possible for me to find a job in the fashion industry. I had to learn everything from scratch when I started this business.

No, because I think my NUS DID degree taught me strong design principles and conceptualisation skills. We were also trained to market ourselves. And what was great was that we also had to learn marketing, accounting and law in our course which came in handy when starting this business.









Course
Platform

As part of our strategy to evolve constantly, a major component of the course is the Course Platforms.
It allows students to tailor their individual course of learning by selecting and participating in 2 concurrent design studios from a variety of 7 to 10 different design projects offered every semester —ranging from

  • Experiments & Exploitation of Materials
  • Future Trends Forecasting & Disruptive Innovation
  • Entrepreneur Product Creation for Crowdfunding & Startups
  • Invention of Tools, Mechanisms, Materials & Structures
  • Innovation & Invention in Healthcare & Medicine
  • Mastery of Product Aesthetics, Usability & Desire Creation
  • Crafting User Experiences in Retail & Government Services
  • 3D Printing & Digital Fabrication Mastership
  • Specialist in Creativity & Problem-solving Methods
  • Interaction for Mobile Apps & the Internet of Things

The range of different topics reflect the ever-expanding role of an innovator and industrial designer; not only are students able to receive exposure to different areas of innovation, they also get the opportunity to learn different approaches to designing from the individual studio leaders and industry collaborators.

In addition, the vertical format of the design platforms encourages cross-learning of ideas, skills and methods while junior students work alongside and / or compete with senior students.

Students in a lower year will take up the role of a junior designer, whilst senior students will have the opportunity to assume the role of a senior innovator. This arrangement reflects the prevalent importance of group dynamics in industry practice, where design teams often comprise of junior designers, innovators and sometimes a creative director.

The platform program features real life innovation projects in collaboration with the following industry partner:

The
Bachelor's
Programme

B.A.(ID)

The Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design, B.A.(ID), is an undergraduate honours programme consisting of coursework driven by a synergistic three-pronged approach:

Design Thinking: Out-of-the-box innovation strategies and investigative methods to discover new ideas and unmet needs.

Multi-Disciplinary Aptitudes: Behavioural science, social economics, business strategy and engineering and technology knowledge help out graduates develop entrepreneurial strategic thinking and holistic problem-solving capabilities.

Artistic Sensibility: Training of imagination, taste, and crafts, to provide appropriate aesthetics and emotions to ideas so that solutions are both functional and desirable. The combined approaches equips our graduates with high-level strategic thinking, and enables them to translate problems and ideas to tangible, desirable solutions etc.

EXCHANGE
PROGRAMMES

To broaden the students’ exposure, around two-thirds of each cohort goes for a one-semester overseas exchange programme during their 3rd year to distinguished design schools.

Our partner schools include:

University of New South Wales, Australia
University of Alberta, Canada
Duoc UC, Chile
Tsinghua University, China
Zhejiang University, China
Tongji University, China
Aalto University, Finland
ENSCI, France
ENSAD, France
International School of Design or ISD, France
Institut supérieur de design, France
Folkwang University of the Arts, Germany
Politechnico di Milano, Italy
Kyushu University, Japan
KIT, Japan
Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico
TU Delft, The Netherlands
TU Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Hangyang University, South Korea
Seoul National University, South Korea
KAIST, South Korea
ECAL, Switzerland
National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Arizona State University, USA

About
DID

Crafting User Experiences in Retail & Government Services is a specialization platform electable by students of the Division of Industrial Design (DID).

DID was founded in 1999 as Singapore’s first university-level course in Industrial Design. DID offers a highly selective degree course in Industrial Design. We teach a potent combination of design thinking and innovation methods, with a clever mix of artistic, humanistic, technological and business disciplines.

Our vision is to make life better through design; to equip students with trans-disciplinary skills and thinking processes required to find unmet needs, to solve complex problems involved in creating viable new products, experiences, interfaces and environments. Our graduates are enabled to take up highly valuable and versatile roles as creative designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders of change.

Originally as part of the Department of Architecture, our programme has built a stellar track record and gained independence in just 11 years. We are ranked among the world’s top 30 University for the subject of Art and Design by QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016, and also ranked as the top university in Asia.

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