What determines a product’s appearance? Is it an expression of artistic genius, or is it derived logically from its functions and how we use it? One might also ask whether the materials and manufacturing processes act as guiding constraints and opportunities for its aesthetics, or whether the look is innately embedded in our history and culture.

Perhaps, the designer’s intent is to be different?

The approaches to designing products are many and varied, and this course platform leads the student designer through the discovery of his/her own way, while learning from the approaches of masters.

Further study investigates the factors that make an object desirable. Is the iPhone, for example, desired because of its impeccable finishing, the weight, the texture, or the feel in one's hand? Is the experience and desire for a product influenced by our past, or external factors? Would interacting with the packaging and the unboxing process heighten it? How much effect does advertising have? Do we want something simply because everyone else queues for it. The wonder and richness of this course specialisation, is that there are no straight answers. At the heart of the product design process is the need to dive into the heart of humanity, to understand what makes it tick - or skip a beat. Students go on a contemplative journey to uncover and understand the beauty that is all around us, and leverage on the knowledge of the contexts for which products are created, the landscape of competitors, the limitations and advantages of the intended materials and production techniques, to ultimately become masters at creating and manipulating the way an object delivers an exhiliarating experience.


Curriculum Overview Components

Mapping and identification of the design landscape and the current trends

Building visual references and an aesthetic vocabulary through gathering and editing of images to identify a desired expression

Develop understanding of and how to manipulate design elements to create the desired expression

Key Learning Areas in terms of Thinking / Knowledge

Gain an overview understanding of visual trend and develop an understanding of trend directions

Discover, through prototyping and iterating, and develop a comprehensive view of how a product is experienced by people

Learn the constraint and opportunities of specific process and materials through making and prototyping

Key Skillset,Tool or Method Equipping Areas

Design through the process of looking, scanning, editing, referencing and translating

Manipulation of design elements through proportion, scale, transformation and arrangement

Learn to make things with your hands or with digitally controlled equipment’s such laser cutters and 3D printers




Accessory names: Oo, CD, UUUU

Pinhead presents elegant and simple forms to be interpreted and reinterpreted by the wearer, imparting them with a unique personal significance.

Lee Ying Hui Julia



An electric kettle with a boldly designed top cap that depresses completely as a ‘boil’ button, giving a feeling of quick, pragmatic, efficient straightforwardness. The button pops back up to indicate the completion of the boiling.

A design that redefines how to hold and pour from an electric kettle, with an modern identity that simultaneously alludes to tea-making rituals and conveys a family- like warmth and a feeling of ceremony.

Low Joo Tat, Edmund Zhang



Flati is a series of bags that appear and disappear. Transformation is explored in material and form. In their flat state, these bags resemble the single sheet of laminate that they are made of. In one swift motion guided by a pattern of cuts, they transform into a sculptural accessory.

Karyn Lim



Priceous is a series of rice delicacies designed to be exquisite, fragile and precious. It was made by pushing the boundaries of the material properties of rice and redesigning the traditional techniques of making.

As a pursuit to amplify the value and eating experience of something that is often seen as cheap and neglected, this series creates a struggle for the audience- they are too beautiful and elegant to be consumed, but are designed to be eaten.

Chen Shiyu


Eunice Hong

Hong Suli, Eunice graduated in 2004 and is a Design Manager at Procter & Gamble Singapore
Where are you working and what do you do?

I am a designer manager at Procter & Gamble (P&G). I work for the Asia Fabric Care team, which oversees P&G's detergent, as well as fabric enhancer business in Asia. I've been with P&G for over five years now. For the first four- and-a-half years, I was in the SK-II Global team, so this is a very recent assignment change. It's a totally different kind of work in terms of brand and also design discipline, moving from retail to brand identity and packaging design now. The most memorable project for me would be the retail vision project for SK-II where we envisioned and created the guide for what the next generation of SK-II stores, globally, would look like in the next three to five years.

So in hindsight, how has NUS DID prepared you for all these assignments?

I think maybe what helped was that the curriculum wasn’t just design-based. We also needed to do a little bit of business-related modules, law, marketing, engineering, and I think that sets you in the right perspective, that design is not just about designing. There are many other factors in place that you need to be aware of. I know the school has improved a lot! You do many cool modules with industry partnership, which we didn’t have in the past. I think those are such great initiatives for the students.


Chua Wenni Wendy and Tan Si Jin Gabriel graduated in 2007 and founded Outofstock, together with Gustavo Maggio and Sebastian Alberdi
How did you get interested in ID?

G: During National Service, I was doing a lot of reading and some books on industrial design got me interested. NUS was the only university that offered it at that time and I applied for it. I was surprised that I got in as I did not have a portfolio and was not from an arts background.

W: If I didn’t study industrial design, I would have gone on to study engineering. I went in without really knowing what I was getting myself into. But fortunately, it was something that I grew to love and something that became my passion.

What would be a milestone project?

G: The Black Forest table was one.

W: We managed to get Black Forest produced by Ligne Roset! Then, in the next year, it won the President’s Design Award as well.

G: This year, we just launched a new chair for Blå Station. It is the first Swedish company that we have collaborated with it and has special significance to us because we founded Outofstock out of our encounter in Stockholm and Blå Station is a reputable Swedish furniture company. Our product was selected to be their 30th anniversary chair and our design was featured in their marketing efforts and exhibitions prominently.

Studio Juju

Lui Sik Peng, Priscilla graduated in 2006 and is the co-founder of Studio Juju with Timo Wong
Last year, Studio Juju won the President’s Design Award, right?

Yes! We were happy of course. But to us, winning an award doesn’t mean we’ve made it or reached some level of being a designer. It’s more like an encouragement, I feel.

Was the design training in NUS DID back then very user-centric also?

Yes, user-centricity was very crucial; it seemed to be the very crucial element throughout the four years. Even in Year 1, we studied the expression of forms through our interpretation of the door handle and buttons. Following that, in Year 2 we designed a trolley and a very conceptual communication device that served to bring people together.

So again we had people that’s right in the middle of the design process. No matter what, design is all about how the human is using the product, so I guess the biggest takeaway was to always be very user-centric in our approach.


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 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.


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


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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