Local talents win regional design awards

THEMES of heritage and female empowerment inspired two young Malaysian talents to win the regional Asia Young Designer Awards (AYDA) 2020.

Dayana Aripin from Universiti Sains Malaysia and Lim Yee Fah from Taylor’s University beat 21 fellow finalists from 13 participating countries in Asia to be crowned winners in the Architectural Category and Interior Design Category, respectively.

The budding designers, whose empathetic instincts to envision spaces that are both innovative and sustainable, grabbed the attention of the judges on July 8.

The duo won a fully-sponsored, six-week, all-expenses paid design discovery programme at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the United States to broaden their perspectives and sharpen their skills.

This follows Nippon Paint’s establishment of the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund at Harvard, a partnership that provides both parties with the opportunity to exchange cross-cultural ideas and values.

Organised by Nippon Paint, AYDA aims to inspire young designers in the hopes of creating outstanding professionals in the architecture and interior design industries.

Congratulating the duo on their win, Nippon Paint Malaysia assistant general manager (marketing) Wong Meng Lee described their projects as visually stunning.

These young, creative talents give us great hope for the future of the country’s design industry, she said, noting that the past year has shown the importance of innovation, sustainability and empathy as we continue to brave the global pandemic.

“This edition of AYDA therefore holds a great significance in our journey forward.

“In the next installation of this competition, we hope to see more impactful entries from Malaysia,” she said in a press release.

Held virtually this year, the international design competition’s “human-centred design” theme challenged the designers to explore their problem-solving skills by developing designs that are intuitive to their intended users’ needs and wants.

Through her “Micro-housing Within Heritage” project, Dayana sought to uplift the lives of her fellow Penangites in the face of rapid urbanisation and demographic changes within the local community.

It was a two-pronged approach that included revitalising the heritage and culture of Penang, in addition to providing affordable homes.

Lim’s project entitled “Wo.Men”, which means “us” in Mandarin, envisioned a safe haven or empowerment centre for women.

In an email interview, Dayana and Lim share their journey with StarEdu:

> Congratulations! Can you tell us about your experience? Dayana: I’m so honored and grateful that we won. To represent Malaysia is such a significant experience especially in a competition held during the pandemic. We were able to network with many of the finalists and I was amazed by all the projects. There were times we had doubts but the support of our friends, family and mentors gave us the confidence to do well.

Lim: I feel grateful and blessed as I was worried that my topic and presentation style was complex and emotional. My fellow finalists were all so good which led me to overthink my own project.> What are your success tips? Dayana: Understand your projects well. Listen to the strategies and advice of those who are experienced and knowledgeable. Always have faith that you can continue to improve.

Lim: I believe in the law of attraction. Whatever you can imagine, you can achieve. Act on your plan to get to where you want to be. When I was working on this project, I kept telling everyone around me that my goal was to get this award. It worked! Keep reminding yourself of your goal and the hard work will lead to success.

> What inspires your creativity?

Dayana: Empathy and self-exploration. Flexibility in approaching and tackling the issues. My AYDA project was driven by a desire to create a solution to address gentrification issues in the heritage city of George Town. Cities are praised for the modern lifestyle and facilities they offer but we forget the essence of a city is the people.

Lim: The motivation to prove myself to the one person whose opinion actually matters: myself. I was never the best student in the class. Sometimes I have incredible ideas but I don’t know how to express them. The desire of wanting to achieve something pushes me to the limit. Also, being more aware of what I am doing opens me up to a higher level of thinking and feeling. This mindfulness leads to even more incredible ideas and designs.

> What do you hope the Harvard experience will provide?

Dayana: I’m thrilled. This is a once in a lifetime chance. Hopefully, I will learn to create better design programmes and to understand the complexities of design flow.

Lim: I am super excited! Due to the pandemic, we are not sure when the university will re-open but I hope we will be there by June next year. I am looking forward to gaining greater design and architectural knowledge and to meet different people from all around the world. Design is inspired by exploring and meeting people.> What is your future plan?

Dayana: I dream of seeing my AYDA project become a reality. I also wish to create more impactful architectural programmes and designs. I founded a design studio last year and I hope it can become one of the best in the industry in the next five to 10 years.

Lim: In five years, I hope my design studio will lead me to work on more international projects and collaborations with interior designers and architects from all around the world.

Themed “amplifying empathy through design”, AYDA 2021 is open for entry submissions until Oct 15. For details, visit asiayoungdesignerawards.com.

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