Singapore’s National Design Centre (NDC), run by the government’s DesignSingapore Council, opened in March 2014. This focal point for all things design in Singapore is a space where designers and businesses exhibit their products, exchange ideas and even work. The NDC is aptly located in the Bugis and Bras Basah area, near heritage landmarks and Lasalle College of the Arts, yet close enough to downtown for the casual visitor and tourist to check out.
The five-storey NDC takes the place of the former Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and was built through a thoughtful process of restoring and re-use of the existing buildings at 111 Middle Road, which include three pre-war art deco blocks and one post-war modern block which have been gazetted for conservation. The architects created big open spaces, such as a large atrium lit by a skylight.
Of interest to design-savvy travellers will be the NDC’s rotating exhibitions. Its launch coincided with the inaugural Singapore Design Week 2014 and on the ground floor, Design Gallery provided a showcase for Singaporean as well as international collections.
On the second floor, there is an auditorium plus Design Gallery 2, a permanent showcase of Singapore design and designers. A lab space run by the Infocomm Development Authority will open shortly — the tech focus in this city-state ensures that you won’t just see traditional art, but interactive tech displays. The upper floors are rented out to design studios and shops.
On your way out, you can grab a souvenir from the in-house kapok store, which curates an interesting array of designers. Here, you’ll find quirky knick-knacks such as notebooks featuring typical exam questions posed to local middle school students back in the 1980s-90s. There are also “Singapore” souvenirs, albeit featuring the country in wacky ways.
The National Design Centre may not be quite as avant garde as its counterparts in some other countries for now, as the design scene here is far from producing the more risque, bold works you may find in Europe. But it’s in the heart of town, so why not stop by, tinker with the exhibits (the tech ones!) and grab a unique souvenir?
How to get there
MRT: Bugis or Bras Basah
By Fen Chia
Last updated on 14th November, 2014.