Left: Joyce Lu Ruizhi leads user experience and user research for the next
generation of client peripherals as Senior Principal UX Designer at Dell. She is a recipient
of the DesignSingapore Scholarship and holds a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business
Administration from the California College of the Arts.
Right: Ho See Jia transforms spaces as the co-Founder of Habasselet Design. She is a DesignSingapore Scholar, and holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard University.
If you thought design was all about making eye-catching products, think again. Design covers many facets of our lifestyles and it is not just limited to architecture or cars. Today’s design is also centred on the humanistic approach such as workflows or how intuitive an operating system can be.
The DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) was established to boost the nation’s design industry by way of innovation and expansion. Dsg constantly encourages young talent to have passion and drive, and think creatively within the realms of design.
Dsg is supporting two young talents, Joyce Lu and Ho See Jia, as they chase their dreams.
Joyce: My scholarship journey so far involves working in User Experience (UX). The hardware UX team is a global team based across the US, Taiwan and Singapore, and working across functions to deliver best-in-class experiences for our customers. I am currently working on product experience for the display and computer peripheral categories. We even go into the minutiae of the design of the track pad when tailoring the user experience. I was proud to be part of the team that won the President*s Design Award 2012 for the Dell All-in-One Desktop PC Family.
Early in my academic life when I was studying mechanical engineering, I was introduced to the field of UX & Product Design through a course on Human Factors & Ergonomics. Since then, the UX scene has been evolving, and people’s behaviours, needs and wants continue to shift as technology advances. Our digital lifestyle now incorporates technology like voice interface and AI features. That got me interested to find out more about how things work and how we are inextricably linked to this humanistic equation of our day-to-day life. I wanted to have more strategic influence in shaping the products and services companies offer. That led me to pursue my graduate studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. I was deeply inspired by the future-focused designers, business strategists, educators, and engineers that I met – all of whom saw our reality in entirely new ways; and were eager to design a world that is profitable, ethical and remarkable.
I derive joy in working across disciplines managing several programmes as part of the core UX portfolio, ensuring teams remain customer-focused across functions and that key product experiences are satisfying to the end-users. I learnt how to combine best practices to develop the understanding of people, context and experience towards the creation of valued experiences.
Today, I’m deeply involved in technology that enables people and organisations everywhere to transform and thrive in the digital economy. What solutions might enable “computing everywhere”? Where can computing appear everywhere and anywhere? How might we design for people to stay consistently powered across spaces and have seamless continuity of communication as they transit between spaces? These are some of the product design challenges I’m working on with my teams currently.
I went to San Francisco with my eyes wide open because it is a global centre of entrepreneurial activity and creative energy while maintaining a business mindset. There, I explored the changing landscape of our technological universe and the role of design within it, learning about new and emerging technologies. Designers must stay abreast of such developments – they will become our tools, the processes by which our ideas are realised, and the source of many of the challenges we must address.
If you love solving problems and innovating at the nexus of business, technology, and design, this might be your best bet. The scholarship helped me to broaden my skills set as I was able to develop critical thinking in my design strategies. Networking with other scholars and industry professionals helped me to build confidence in speaking, while mingling and exchanging ideas.
Architecture through a World-view
See Jia: I did not grow up wanting to be an architect but there were early clues. I had a creative mind since I was young; I could create a story in my mind from almost anything I saw in my environment. When I went to school, my forte in Design and Technology was clearly evident from my grades. But what spurred me to pursue architecture was when I stumbled upon a book featuring Gothic churches during my secondary school days. However, when pursuing formal studies, I leaned towards modernist structures.
Studying in Harvard was a memorable experience. It boasts an international community. Everyone is so open to exchanging ideas. I would engage with different students from all over the world every day. It was a very interesting learning journey especially when they share their political or philosophical influences.
After I graduated, I had the opportunity to practice architecture in New York for a few years. This was an amazing opportunity as, in the field of design, the more you expand your experiences and widen your world view, the more it feeds back into your design. So, it helps greatly to have worked in different cultures and backgrounds. When I came back to Singapore, I founded my own architecture and interior design firm in May 2019.
When I came back, Dsg connected me to Temasek Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore where I became an adjunct lecturer. To be able to reach out to the next generation of architects is a privilege for me!
My greatest challenge in the field of architecture is dealing with clients. The budgeting, the use of a specific material, the bargaining, the negotiating, and so on, that to me is the greatest challenge. In architecture, while the meaning of the design and the poetry behind spaces is of foremost importance, practical business skills are also necessary. Looking at managing cost and budget can get into the way of artistic vision. At the end of the day if we don’t have the conviction to carry through with the project, the artistic vision will fail to be realised. It’s also about managing your client’s expectations. These are things that we only start to learn when we get out of school and into the real world.
When looking to the future, I am looking at practising architecture for social causes such as community living, tackling slums, or designing a playground where children can interact. I hope that the opportunity presents itself and I would be more than happy to tackle it.
On the traits to have when pursuing architecture, I would recommend having the spirit of adventure, that is, to go overseas to study and embrace the culture and people there; to gain a bigger and wider perspective of the world and its issues. Also, as with all difficulties that we may face, embrace challenge as an opportunity for growth. Go out, appreciate the larger context, be inspired and inspire others.