In my early encounters with @participateindesign (P!D), I recalled thinking they were a cross between a “ground-up People’s Association” and a “21st century SPUR”. These were the polar opposite models of community engagement in Singapore: the former a top-down state apparatus while the latter was a citizen-led think tank in the 1960s and 1970s that frequently challenged state planners with its alternative proposals, much to their chagrin. Against this antagonistic legacy between state and civic society, meeting P!D founders @mizahrahman_ and @janhlim in the 2010s was a breath of fresh air. Their cheery dispositions, aptly captured in their bright yellow “brand” colour, were matched by a clear and simple mission to design with people (including the now more receptive state planners). Over the years, it has been inspiring to see their work grow and I even had the pleasure of editing their 2016 publication “Designing with People and Not Just for People”. It’s an important contribution for a new generation of “woke” Sinngapore designers keen to engage people in their work.
#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome enquiries and physical loans.