about design for

design for is a non-profit organisation, funded by Nanyang Technological University’s New Silk Road Grant. It is an open platform for collaborations on social design projects.

In developing a network of collaborators, we aspire to create design solutions for the good of the individual and for a better society. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve holistic solutions for a sustainable world.

The name design for is a catalyst for the possibilities of design with a humanistic view; members of design for intentionally focus on designing for good, for people, and for cultural preservation.



Utilising scholarly research, we advocate cultural understanding and preservation by using design as a dialogue. Through this dialogue, we aim to translate, reinterpret, adapt, and try out new ideas and forms in traditional crafts for contemporary living.

As part of our work with communities, we share cultural information and aim to promote ethical consumerism for sustainable livings.


design identity

The design for symbol we have developed incorporates both a spiral motif and a cloud.

The spiral represents a natural movement that permeates many living forms. From the growth and patterns of plants, the biological structure of our DNA, to the movement of celestial bodies in space, the spiral is a constant reminder of our deep links with nature and the universe.

The Asian influence on our symbol is evident in the cloud shape, representing movement and energy. The cloud is intended to suggest a speech bubble (a discussion to create dynamic solutions) as well as a thought bubble (constantly generating creative ideas).

With the cloud and a spiral branching outwards like a plant, we aim to seek a growing community of individuals with similar aspirations and beliefs.



The concept of design for is built upon models of Asian apprenticeships that are based on the methods of traditional craftsmanship and the adoption of a hands-on, process-driven method. By visiting craft villages and learning from the original artisans themselves, we come to understand their philosophy of life, learn from their techniques, and derive a wealth of knowledge that is slowly fading away today. This leads to a model of research into meaning, conception of designs by making, and fostering human relationships through sharing.

Historically in the Asian cultures, there are strong links between craft, design, and meaning as the basis of the sense of cultural identity: the people live with a respect for nature and an appreciation of tradition. Collaborators in design for see the value in this perspective and seek to apply it to our Southeast Asian region, which is rich in heritage, culture, and craftsmanship.


Ethnographic research allows us to see the world view of a particular cultural group of people by reviewing their material culture. With ethnographic research, we learn and understand the meaning of visual forms and symbols that are relevant to the culture’s world view. Research cultivates the inspiration to create meaningful and culturally respectful designs that will remain relevant in today's world.


To better understand the process of traditional craft making we learn by using those methods and materials. With that knowledge as a base, we can then Incorporate innovative ideas into the process to meet the creative needs of the product while increasing efficacy and sustainability. We aim to create designs that respect the importance of the cultural and material context.


Our goal is to provide our collaborators with designs that can support the economy of their local communities. By aligning with the values of ethical consumerism and working with non-profit organisations from the region, we work to ensure fair trade for artisans. The well-being of communities lies in part in the ability to maintain their cultural heritage in a sustainable way.



founder and director

dr. nanci takeyama

Professor Nanci Takeyama has been teaching at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) since 2008. She graduated as an architect from São Paulo University in Brazil and also holds a PhD in Design Research Theory from Kobe Design University in Japan. Her design works have been published in several design publications. Her first book, Mountain floats to connect this world and the other, co-authored with Professor Sugiura Kohei and other researchers on Asian design was published in December 2012.

Her main research interest focuses on the meaning of Asian traditional forms and their applications in contemporary design methodologies.

advisor and honourary member

peer mohindeen sathikh

Professor Peer Sathikh obtained a Master of Design in industrial design from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London and a Master of Design in product design from Industrial Design Centre, Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. He also has a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering. Peer Sathikh’s research interests are in three areas: experience design, cultural influence on design, and creativity X innovation. Inspired by the initiative of Professor R.A. Mashelkar, the proponent of Gandhian engineering, Peer Sathikh wants to explore how a Gandhian approach to innovation can help build sustainable products and protect the environment.

advisor and honourary member

lim yok

Lim Yok is an entrepreneur and an associate lecturer with Singapore Institute of Management University (SIM) University and with the Marketing Institute of Singapore (MIS) teaching Business Law. He also has been involved in corporate training since 1994. He is a graduate of National University of Singapore with a LL.B (Honours) and has been a member of the Singapore Bar since 1991. He has a Graduate Diploma in Marketing and an Advanced Certificate in Training and Development from the Charter Institute of Marketing (CIM) through the London School of Business & Finance.

advisor and honourary member

Sujatha Arundathi Meegama

Sujatha Arundathi Meegama is an Assistant Professor in Asian art history at the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Sujatha holds a B.A. in Asian Studies from Temple University (Japan Campus), an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining NTU, she was a lecturer in art history at UC Berkeley and a Museum Educator at The Art Institute of Chicago. Sujatha specializes in the art and architecture of South Asia. Her methodological interests range from artwork that questions established boundaries (visual, religious, cultural, medium) to the transmission of artistic knowledge in medieval and early modern art worlds.

cultural and design translator

iffah dahiyah

Iffah Dahiyah graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Visual Communications) from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media. She is currently practising in a social innovation company, SHFT. She believes that designers too can play responsible roles in creating a better tomorrow.

cultural and design translator

brian lee

Brian Lee graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Product Design) from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media. He enjoys learning about other cultures and how different cultures emerge and become distinct. Understanding how people of different cultures react to their ideas of cultural identity and how they assert their cultural distinction in the kind of art and design they produce is of great interest to him. This leads him to his approach in design: creating works empowered with a sense of cultural identity and a story; through these he brings soul to his work.

cultural and design translator

bryan angelo lim

Bryan Lim received his Bachelor of Fine Art (Visual Communications) from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media, and his Diploma in Multimedia Technology from Singapore Polytechnic. He is currently co-running a graphic design studio named Qu'est-ce Que C'est Design.

cultural and design translator

sharifah nasser

Sharifah graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Product Design) from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media. Her interest lies in interaction design, focusing on creating engaging interfaces which affect business, social, and cultural contexts.


we design
for good, for people, for culture

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