Friday, December 14, 2012

Design Graduate Wows Judges at Red Dot & SUTD

He turned a semestral project into an award-winning design that took him on an all-expense paid trip to Tokyo. Meet Chan Wen Jie, NYP School of Design (SDN) Industrial Design (ID) graduate.

You might be wondering, what design is capable of winning an award that flies you to Tokyo? Behold the CONVERTIBLE stairs. What Wen Jie created allows more mobility for the elderly, disabled persons and just about anyone who has difficulty walking up or down stairs.

The CONVERTIBLE is a user-friendly, dual-function stairs that can transform into an access ramp for people who have difficulty walking on normal stairs. CONVERTIBLE requires minimal effort to operate, and utilises simple mechanisms, hence allowing for easy and efficient use.

When asked how it can be implemented in real life, Wen Jie told me that the CONVERTIBLE can be installed in just about anywhere - in parks, HDB void decks, shopping malls, train stations and hospitals -, for its main purpose is to aid mobility outdoors.

Said Wen Jie, “I wanted to create something useful that will solve a long term problem for these people, and to provide them with more convenience.”

Do not belittle the simplicity in CONVERTIBLE. For Wen Jie, the trickiest part of the design process was its engineering of the CONVERTIBLE. Although he knew little about engineering and the mechanics of design, Wen Jie went out of his way to seek advice from engineering firms and did much research on the matter so that he could make the CONVERTIBLE function.
I asked Wen Jie what he liked most about the whole design process.

He replied, “I really liked the final part where I could materialise my ideas and create a prototype and then present it to the lecturers. Here, I will get to know whether my idea is up to standard. If not, then I learn from my mistakes and that makes me grow as a designer too.”

Said Wen Jie, “My school helped me in terms of software skills, design knowledge and research skills, which gave me a better understanding of the foundation of design work.”

He added, “Through thorough critique sessions, our lecturers have really instilled in us critical thinking skills that allow ourselves to think out of the box. This allows us to always look at ideas from many different perspectives and be independent in our thinking.”

Wen Jie did not plan on winning when he submitted his design concept for the SUTD Design Challenge 2012 and Red Dot Award: Product Design 2012.

Little did he know, he was awarded the “Best of the Best” Award for his concept by Red Dot, a well-known international design museum and institution. This accolade is one of the most prestigious design awards in the world, and Wen Jie’s design was picked out of 3,672 design entries from 56 different countries.

“It was free, and I decided to just give it a try” was his humble comment. He laughed, “I didn’t even expect to be having this interview!”

Wen Jie’s design also won the SUTD Design Challenge. And as a winner, he will be going on a fully sponsored trip to Tokyo, Japan, for the annual International Design Contest (IDC) Robocon 2012, along with a final year ID student.

I asked how these awards would be able to help Wen Jie as a designer. He said, “I would definitely want to pursue further studies after my National Service and I believe these awards will help to strengthen my portfolio. Moreover, when I apply for a designing job in the future, these awards will give me an advantage.”

Wen Jie’s achievements are driven largely by his passion for design. This is what he had to say to juniors and prospective students who are interested in the School of Design:

“You must have passion for your design work. You must love to come up with solutions to everyday problems. Redesigning is okay if it serves a purpose better. Create something new, and challenge yourself by creating something the world has never seen before.”

Indeed, SDN has done a good job in developing aspiring designers like Wen Jie. If you would like to sharpen your design craft and have the opportunity to clinch prestigious design awards, do consider joining the School of Design at NYP.

By Ho Khin Wai, Year 2, Diploma in Banking & Financial Services
Khin Wai is an NYP Year 2 Banking and Financial Services student from School of Business Management (SBM). He started writing for NYP Portal in 2011 out of interest and was soon "addicted" to it. He has also written book reviews for Straits Times YA Classified. Besides writing, he loves singing and has performed for various events in NYP under NYP Soundcard


  1. Is this available in the market.
    How can i get in touch with Chan Wen Jie.
    Please send me his contact on


  2. Can one purchase this devise now? Where and what is its going price?

  3. hello .Mr.Chan Win jie . Is this available market .can I get devise? I want many devises . please conact with me on facebook my facebook Emial ...joseph Arch