Tan Chin Kang, ICAD Alumni

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As part of the effort to ICAD Design Days to stimulate deeper discussions with the design community on the nature of being a design professional and the values of our work as a collective, we reached out to various industry practitioners and stakeholders, seeking their perspectives on a series of thought-provoking questions on current issues in relation to the core values professionalism.

Tan Chin Kang, our ICAD Alumni from BIDSHU programme, and AYDA2019 Finalist shares his thoughts.


What should the relationship between the academia and the industry be? How are we able to bridge the gap between what the academia is producing and what the industry is demanding (skills/traits/attitude, etc.)?

The position of academia should be a part of practicing before we step into the industry. It looks like a springboard, providing the opportunity and learning platform for those students to get prepared before entering the industry. However, there is also a big gap between what students practicing in academia and what designers demanding in the industry. In College, we have learned to complete a project including working drawing, 3D, Sketches, Concept development and find out the solution for the client. In the part of our courses, we have been learned the software skills, design process, BQ, materials knowledge and etc. It looks a lot, but truly, all of them are just basic skills. As a student, I have the related knowledge, but I would say that when we step into the industry, we know the name, but we don’t understand the details & its functions. Generally, students will be working on a project proposal to the invisible client as their course project. In my opinion, the way to draw closer between academia and industry is to provide an opportunity for students to complete a real project to familiarize in deep of the design process. For instance, meet the client, suppliers and contractors.


What does “multidisciplinary” mean to you? In your practice/industry, do you think it is more important to be a “generalist” or a “specialist”, and why?

As an interior designer, I think a professional designer should have the ability of knowledge in all aspects, the ability of multidisciplinary could help designers have strong critical thinking and multi-faceted thinking to find out the best solution to the client and also enhance the efficiency of problems solving. Generalist and specialist designers are both play a very important role in the specific field. It’s based on what you want to be in your life, a professional interior designer? a professional visualizer? or a design company director? In fact, I believe that every specialist does also need to have the multidisciplinary in the end.


How has your industry incorporated ethical practices, if there are any? Do you think ethical responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the artist/designers or the client, or both?

As an interior designer, we should candid and truthful in all their professional communications with our clients, contracts with a client shall clearly set forth the scope, offer professional services to clients, not to divulge any confidential information about the client or related to the client. The ethical responsibilities would fall on our designers’ shoulders at first because we as a designer have the responsibility to ensure both clients and designers rights & benefit. However, if something went wrong, designers should advise the client that if anything is illegal or immoral.


Are the nature of awards and competitions still relevant today and why?

All of the awards and competitions are still play an important role for students to showcasing their works, it’s not only an affirmation of strength but also is the best way to get in touch between the industry and you. Besides that, some of the largest competition also providing the 1st place winner have the chance to go overseas exchange. This also will widen your vision, increasing your knowledge.


What do you think is important for the arts practitioners/designers of the future to think about and challenge?

Currently, we all are affected by Covid-19. I think the important sectors that designers of the future should think about the topic of the people’s lifestyles changing, types of working methods, and how we designing to completely avoid the possibility of viruses spread. For instance, the ventilation system and hygiene quality are the first thing that people will be concerned about. The most serious challenge for future designers is most of the guidelines and knowledge are not be able to use in the future such as the distance of walking area between people, they have to build a new guideline to achieve social distancing.