A Design Trail to Remember

When life presents you with an opportunity to work at Singapore design week it is understood that you pursue it- no questions asked. When Design Trails 2017 presented itself it seemed like an amazing opportunity: a power packed day covering multiple aspects of design around the city. How can you say no to that! The event was basically a city wide hop on-hop off bus route, covering six different locations, each with a specific realm of design to educate the public on. What presented itself as the ‘experience of a lifetime’ took an unexpected route.

The Briefing

The volunteers were asked to attend a briefing a few weeks before the actual event to prepare them for the grueling tasks that were at hand and how they were to tackle them. The briefing was held at an inspirational house of design in the country- The National Design Centre (NDC). Entering a room full of (approximately) sixty other like minded individuals seemed motivating. The enthusiastic head of the design trail explain the different stops that we would have to deal with, the different kinds of jobs we would be assigned, the intensity of the day, the hours we would work and all and all how intimidating the job criteria was to fill out. She explained that this involved a huge amount of commitment and energy to carry out. The room was filled with an aura of anxiety, nerves and excitement. She left us eagerly awaiting the event.

The perception I had about the event once the briefing was over left me ecstatic! I was going to have a chance to meet new people, learn a thing or two about different forms of design explore parts of the city I never knew existed and of course participate in one of the city’s most renowned platforms of design week.

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The Event day

The morning of the event seemed to be a battle between me and the clock- Due to an important task at hand a couple of my friends and I were late. This meant that the allotment of duties had already been carried out leaving us at the National Design Centre of Singapore with nothing to do. The organisation had been a bit busy to allot us jobs for a while. Eventually we were designated floaters (extra volunteers who go assigned jobs once the availability rose at any stop). They wanted us familiar with each of the six locations so we boarded the design trail bus and set off on the six stop journey. Each stop had a different aspect of design to cover be it a tile museum in the heart of Chinatown or an interior design workshop at Journey east. They each had a unique attribute of design which was away from the ordinary.

Once we reported back to NDC we were paced with the NDC volunteers in a room until we were assign work. Once we had finished up our lunch we were asked to encourage participation towards the event by handing out pamphlets and leading people to the design trail bus stop.  Our skills of marketing and sales came handy when it came down to convincing individuals on why they should go for the trail. Encouraging participation didn’t continue for too long as the event faced a draw back in terms of participation in a certain location.

Outram was the destination of the day which presented two workshops, two destinations on opposite sides of in one location. Due to miscommunication between the volunteers and the organisers we shuffled between two locations three times until we released the location we came to first was the venue for the first talk. The hindrance was broken by the light hearted talk of one Hong Henwood from The Affordable Style File. She took us through her journey and how she transformed her life from being a lawyer to following her passion and becoming an interior designer. She explained the importance of social media in her life when it came to launching her career and how important it was in giving her that recognition to earn the following she has today. I felt that her development on social media was so beneficial and leveraging on this knowledge can help me get my name out there as well.


Delighted after Mrs.Henwood’s talk we encountered a miscommunication error. This led us scurrying around the institute like a bunch of blind mice! We finally managed to reach our location- Sing Mui Heng. Sing Mui Heng is a traditional fashion designers paradise. The store had value in terms of its heritage and that spoke volumes. As we were late most of the talk was completed which gave us an opportunity to explore the location itself and take in the experience and tradition written in the walls of this design Eco space.

Once the talk was done we were allowed to leave to go back to NDC only to discover (once we had boarded the bus) that some of the volunteers were to stay back and continue being hype men. The weather seemed to be in sync with the organisation in terms of the confusion. It was pouring on arrival into NDC which lead a few of us to help with the registrations. My job for the next hour or so was to help with registration but the unexpected weather issue left the participation level slightly low. With an umbrella twice my size as my weapon of choice I was meant to usher people in protecting them from the weather.


With the day coming to a close with job after another I realised that my experience volunteering at the prestigious design week wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.  But let’s not deny that every experience is still one to learn from and therefore I learnt:

  • Design workshop spaces make great picture perfect moments!
  • Social media can launch a career (words from Mrs.Hong Henwood)
  • Marketing for the event is important- you always need a crowd
  • Always have a plan B

The event went smoothly all and all, it was just a bit unexpected to witness the way it was conducted. All and all there were valid points to take into consideration for our own class event. Design Trails did make me come to learn about a few different aspects of design that I never thought I would be interested in. Apart from that it should me how to manage and plan my own class fashion event.


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