Singapore Design Archives


A platform to document, research and present Singapore design histories. The archive exhibits a rotating display of local design objects and ephemera at the DesignSingapore Associates Network office located in the National Design Centre (#05-04).

Come by to view the window display or drop in at our bi-monthly open house to explore materials related to Singapore’s design history. You can also make an appointment to visit by writing to info[at] Stay updated with our latest displays and events on Instagram

Upcoming Open Houses:
April 6 & 20, 230pm–530pm

The archives is a project of the Singapore Graphic Archives. It is supported by the DesignSingapore Associates Network (DAN) and the DesignSingapore Council.

Display #012:

Designed in Print: Printing Blocks from Singapore

Examine the close relationship between design and print in this set of printing blocks from the collection of TypesettingSG. These intricate plates not only capture what advertising and ephemera looked liked in post-war Singapore , but also record the rapid industrialisation processes that was modernising the young city-state.
Display #011:

Achieving the Archive: Locating Graphic Authorship in a Local Context

Authorship is a grimy subject. Should designers have a distinct signature in their works or should they be “objective” in serving their client’s needs? This month’s display by LASALLE undergraduate Edmund Chang examines the relevance of graphic authorship in the professional practice of design. By taking on broader ideas of graphic authorship, this display underscores the significance of design in an authorial role of a designer while imploring designers to contemplate their role in the wider context of society.
Display #010:

Creative Issues: Design Magazines from Singapore

The magazine has historically played a crucial role in disseminating ideas prior to the arrival of the internet. In design, this medium has often promoted the works of practitioners, advocated for the profession and educated the public about design. This month’s display examines how the design magazine—particularly those published independently in Singapore—have shaped the local design scene. 
Display #009:

The Artist-Designer: Choy Weng Yang

Best known for his abstract paintings and as a proponent of modern art in Singapore, Choy Weng Yang also had a passion for graphic design. Between the 1960s to 1980s, he created catalogues and exhibitions for art shows and the National Museum of Singapore as well as a series of stamps — combining fine art with graphic design to create a striking body of works.
Display #008:

The Making of a Singapore Souvenir

The explosion of Singapore-inspired souvenirs today is a recent phenomenon that can be traced back to the turn of the millennium. We retrace how Singapore designers fell in love with heritage, and in the process turned everyday subjects into objects that citizens and tourists have come to love and hate!
Display #007:

Symbols of Singapore

Corporate identity — often expressed in the form of abstract logos and symbols — gained prominence in Singapore during the 1970s and 1980s when the country underwent a modernisation drive. We look back at the histories of some of these symbols as well as the designers who made their name as Singapore’s “Logo Kings”

Display #006:

The Art of Modernising Singapore

As Singapore’s longest running architecture magazine, the SIAJ (today known as The Singapore Architect) is an invaluable record of the city’s urban development since its independence. This has been captured most dramatically in the face of the magazine, with covers that captured, commented and even critiqued the modernisation drive that Singapore architects played a role in.

Display #005:

Design Champions: Early Singapore Design Awards

Singapore’s President*s Design Award is part of a long held tradition to promote the industry through honouring its most outstanding and innovative works. We look back at past and present awards to consider how the best of “Singapore design” has evolved over the decades.

Display #004:

Light Up! The Design of Singapore Matchboxes

Handy, functional and beautiful — matchboxes were the perfect calling card for companies and organisations in the past. This forgotten advertising medium sheds light on what graphic design and life in Singapore looked like in its early decades as nation.

Display #003:

Constructing “Singapore Design”

It is arguably the question that annoys most local designers: “What is Singapore design?”. Discover the origins of Singapore’s need for a design identity in this showcase of books and documents.


Singapore Design Books Giveaway

We are helping distribute books and ephemera published by Singapore’s national design agency, the DesignSingapore Council, since its inception in 2003. These include catalogues of Singapore’s participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale over the years (see here for a quick history) and even when the country hosted the Icsid World Design Forum in 2009. There are also annuals of the President’s Design Award, compilations of Singapore design histories and much more!

It’s a blast from the past for some and a treasure trove for those who have never seen some of these stuff. Browse the full list of items and make your selection:

Feel free to share. All requests must come in before 2359 on 1 July, 2018.

Display #002:

The Design of Child’s Play

People are Singapore’s only natural resource, so it’s no wonder the city-state has paid a lot of attention to its children. From regularly updated educational policies to the craze for tuition and enrichment classes, young Singaporeans are subject to a variety of designs that seek to develop them to the fullest. Even child’s play is designed, including illustrated books, playgrounds and toys.

Display #001:

Schooling a Nation’s Designers: BVI

It’s graduation time for design schools—a tradition that goes back five decades in Singapore when the first national design school, Baharuddin Vocational Institute, was established in 1968. This manual and applied arts school was one of several training institutes set up by the government to prepare a workforce for Singapore’s “urgent” industrialisation drive. As then Finance Minister Dr. Goh Keng Swee argued, industrial development was necessary for a young state with no natural resources and a rapidly growing population.