Young Malaysian talents shine in Nippon Paint’s design competition

Loo Yi (left) and Zachary Khaw Lit Siang won the top awards in their categories with designs highlighting sustainability while creating meaning within society. — Pix by Miera Zulyana
Loo Yi (left) and Zachary Khaw Lit Siang won the top awards in their categories with designs highlighting sustainability while creating meaning within society. — Pix by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — In a world desperate for environmental and societal change, the Asia Young Designer Award (AYDA), led by Nippon Paint, has casted light on the young minds set to break the boundaries of current design and reveal a brighter future.

Now into its 11th year, the competition engaged entrants with the theme, “Forward – challenging design boundaries.”

It asked creative young minds to think against the grain of vernacular design and to create something positive and meaningful, capable of fulfilling society’s needs.

Gladys Goh said the competition was more than about just winning an award but creating a community of like-minded people.
Gladys Goh said the competition was more than about just winning an award but creating a community of like-minded people.

Nippon Paint Malaysia group general manager Gladys Goh said she was impressed by the unique entries this year during the award ceremony on Wednesday.

“Thank you for showing us that we have great talent to look forward to as we reveal a better and more sustainable future.

The finalists and judges of the Asia Young Designer Award 2018 have shown the possibility of creating sustainable, human-centric designs that benefit communities.
The finalists and judges of the Asia Young Designer Award 2018 have shown the possibility of creating sustainable, human-centric designs that benefit communities.

“It really touches my heart to see the dedication, and the compelling designs created.”

Loo Yi, from the University of Malaya, won gold in the architecture category with his design “Mangrove Charcoal Living Museum”.

His unconventional museum concept showcases something many wouldn’t be confident enough to dream up: the harmonious merging of physical structure and nature.

“When I came up with this design, I wanted it to be not just a gallery to display collections of physical remains at Kuala Sepetang Perak, but also a site to incorporate the locals’ non-material cultural practices and natural forestry heritage,” Yi said.

This is one reason why Chief Judge for the architecture category and Principal of Sarly Adre Sarkum Architecture, Sarly Adre Sarkum, thought Yi’s design was worthy of the top prize.

“His design is a very sensitive design, and it speaks volumes in appreciating the environment and culture.

“His entry communicated a message that in going forward with the future of design, we must appreciate and remember the lessons our forefathers have taught us,” Sarkum explained.

The gold award winner for the interior design category was Zachary Khaw Lit Siang, from Taylor’s University.

His design, “The Weave”, drew on inspiration from the local fashion design industry, and his heartfelt belief that every designer should have access to the tools and space they require the create their dreams.

“In creating The Weave, I wanted to give young fashion design students a leg up in the industry and help them become successful, thanks to the facilities incorporated into the design,” Khaw said.

“I always think that nowadays, design really needs to come from your heart. So, I hope that this competition can actually prove that design is not just for commercial, it’s not just for a very easy purpose. You actually need to think carefully about what you’re trying to do and what you want to achieve.”

Khaw’s personal dedication and passion for his design have set it apart from the rest and impressed Chief Judge for the interior design category and Chief Executive Designer of Blu Water Studio, Lai Siew Hong.

“It was quite amazing to see Zachary’s work and what he has done. It’s not about aesthetic but it has a main purpose: the purpose is how he designed from his heart and how he can impact the next generations.

“So, we felt with a very strong purpose that has helped Zachary to be very focused and truly design from how he feels to creating a space to impact others,” Hong said.

Both young designers will compete regionally in their respective categories to win the top prize — a placement in a six-week all-expense-paid Design Discovery programme at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the US.

However, no matter the outcome, Goh explained the real purpose of the competition was not just to win an award.

“The objective of AYDA is to provide a platform to nurture future designers, and we’re building a community of like-minded people.”

“We all have a single belief: that we can make the world a better place. We have one common goal which is creating an impact in the community, society and the environment through design.”

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