The state flag; Singa the courtesy campaign mascot; and the dragon playground – these are just some examples of iconic Singaporean designs. Since the government supported the development of a professional design industry in the 1960s as part of its industrialisation plan, Singapore design has grown tremendously. Today, Singapore designers are sought after by local and international clients and many Singapore designs are used all around the world. Here are 5 lesser known designs from each decade that also chart how Singapore design has evolved with the nation over the last fifty years.

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Icon of Industrialisation

Jurong Town Hall (1974)

By Architects Team 3

Capturing the spirit of Singapore’s rapid industrialisation during its first decade of independence is this building designed for a then emerging Jurong Industrial Estate. The result of an architectural competition is this five-storey modern marvel that conveys rationality and efficiency with its recurring use of angular and modular motifs. Originally built as the headquarters of Singapore’s industrial developer, the Jurong Town Corporation (today known as JTC Corporation), this building has since been conserved as a symbol of Singapore’s successfully industrialisation programme. It continues to support Singapore’s economic development as it is being repurposed to become the future home for trade associations.


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Fast Forward

Singapore Bus Services (SBS) Bus Guides (1977-1981)

By Lok Lai, The Graphic Communication Group

Riding on a successful industrialisation programme a decade before, Singapore shifted gears from quantity to quality in the 1970s. The government sought to raise local design standard so as to make goods more attractive for export and cater better to Singaporeans who were increasingly concerned with their quality of life. This set of four annual bus guides that improved on previous editions was an everyday example of this phenomenon. The more streamlined information design inside was matched by these graphic covers that captured progress and movement in the most direct manner possible: an arrow.


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Are you afraid of the dark?

Guinness Stout “Word of Wisdom” Commercials (1989-1994)

By Lim Sau Hoong, Ogilvy & Mather Singapore

Singapore’s economy boomed in the 1990s as part of a fast-growing East Asia, and this boosted the confidence of local architects and designers who sought to create work that spoke beyond our shores. One example was a series of English and Mandarin television commercials created by Lim for alcoholic beverage brand, Guinness. Her words of wisdom as performed by Hong Kong star, George Lam, combined wit and philosophy, helping Guinness market itself to the younger, white-collared demographic in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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Thumbs up design!

Trek ThumbDrive (2000)

By Henn Tan, Trek 2000 International

The emergence of globalisation powered by digital technology broke down barriers in the design industry as designers gained control of the creative process and many invented their own products. One such creation was Trek’s thumb-sized Universal Serial Bus (USB) device that replaced floppy disks. By offering the convenience of transferring large amounts of data, the ThumbDrive became a global hit and helped the five-man team grow into a global enterprise with offices in more than ten countries.


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Keeping the world clean

“Signature” Range for Initial Hygiene (2013)

By Orcadesign Consultants

The increasing relevance of Singapore design in the world market is testament to the success of our local industry. A good grasp of the global design language and forward-looking ideas have made Singapore designers sought after amongst governments, multinational corporations and global organisations. One example was when hygiene service provider Rentokil Initial hired Singapore industrial designers Orcadesign to create this next generation of modern and ergonomic public washroom products. Try them out at the many toilets in Singapore and around the world.



To see more Singapore designs, head down to the National Design Centre’s on-going Fifty Years of Singapore Design exhibition. Featuring over 200, iconic, pivotal and popular designs across the variety of disciplines, learn how the growth of Singapore design has propelled the city to become recognised as a UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2015.

Speech by Minister for Communications and Information Mr S Iswaran at the Opening Ceremony of Asia TV Forum & Market and Screensingapore on 4 December 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 04 Dec 19
Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, at the completion of the Digital Archives of Singapore Tamil Arts on 30 November 2019 Speeches Libraries 30 Nov 19
Opening Remarks by SMS Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, at launch of AiSP’s Ladies In Cyber Mentorship Programme on 26 November 2019 Speeches Cyber Security 26 Nov 19
Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, at the launch of Microsoft’s Experience Center Asia on 12 November 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 12 Nov 19
Transcript of Minister Iswaran’s Dialogue with Mr Michael Lawrence, CEO Asia House at the Asia House Global Trade Dialogue on 7 November 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 07 Nov 19
Keynote address by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations, at the Asia House Global Trade Dialogue on 7 November 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 07 Nov 19