Left: Sheryl Yap, Dsg Scholar 2015, interned at Walt Disney Studios and that invaluable experience has guided her in her career today.
Right: Rebekah Ong, Dsg Scholar 2017. Check out her works at https://rebekahelza.com/4/.
Everything begins and ends with a story,” said Sheryl Yap, DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) Scholar.
For her and fellow scholar Rebekah Ong, Dsg is where their stories began. As the national agency promoting the development of the design sector, Dsg is involved in designing our very nation. It is the driving force behind leveraging design for innovation and economic growth for our city.
Dsg has also provided Sheryl and Rebekah with a purpose, opportunities to explore and fulfil their design dreams, and a positive spirit that infuses their creations with life and love.
This duo is shaping Singapore’s future and paving the path for others who will come after them.
Pushing Boundaries: Entertainment Focus
Bringing Drawings to Life
Sheryl always knew she wanted to do illustrations, but felt that her drawings lacked a particular edge. She wanted something more, but what?
She found her answers during her scholarship interview with Dsg. She met Tim Kobe, Founder and CEO of design collective, Eight Inc.
Kobe assessed her portfolio, gave her a frank assessment and thought that she could benefit from ArtCenter College of Design’s Entertainment Design Programme.
“Upon some research of the programme, I realised that the missing puzzle all this while, was the ability to bring my characters and environments to life,” Sheryl said.
Just as design is a field without limits, the Dsg Scholarship is more than an introduction to a career, it is a comprehensive experience programme that transforms and cultivates a designer’s talent to its fullest. And thus, Dsg was happy to support her dreams.
Life in Motion
Today, Sheryl is proud to be the first Dsg Scholar in the animation industry. She enjoyed a full sponsorship for her Bachelor of Science in Entertainment Design at the ArtCenter College of Design in California, and a coveted internship with Walt Disney Studios.
“One thing that Disney really advocated for was originality and individuality,” Sheryl recalled. “That has always served as a constant reminder for me – to strive to tell genuine, heartfelt stories that can resonate with others.”
She returned home full of such stories, and the skills with which to tell them compellingly.
Currently, Sheryl is a Concept/Set Designer at Design Arcade 2000. She assists the Creative Director in the development of the concept, synopsis, proposals and storyboarding for film production. She is eager to dispel the myth that our small entertainment scene means similarly small prospects.
“Everything and anything is available for you!” she advised aspiring designers. “Knowing that nothing is impossible in animation and the fact that you can take just a simple idea or story and turn it into something magical – that is design.
“The world is literally at your fingertips when you get to design places, worlds and memorable characters, and bring them to life.”
Vigour and Vitality: Sustaining Fashion
Realising Design Dreams
Rebekah, too, has a unique design story.
“Growing up, I was exposed to art and crafting at a young age, and my mother had done a fair bit of crafting herself – knitting, crocheting and cross stitching.”
As the years passed, she found joy and originality in her pursuit of fashion design. She not only excelled in Art for her O-Level examination, she began to gradually hone her creative talent.
“Conceptual fashion has the capacity to communicate idiosyncratic ideas, critiques, and thoughts,” she elaborated. “Similarly, I was keen to use design as a tool to express my values, ideas and imagination.”
To fulfil her dream, Rebekah began to research on the handful of scholarships in Singapore for design students. The Dsg Scholarship caught her eye.
“I was attracted to the shorter bond and flexibility in future career options. Apart from that, I was offered a personal mentorship opportunity and a greater network of local designers, which I found useful to better navigate the struggles and challenges one faces in this industry,” she recalled.
Developing as a Designer
Under the Dsg Scholarship, Rebekah studied fashion design at the prestigious London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.
While learning and acquiring valuable knowledge from school, Rebekah was also determined to further enrich her experience as a budding designer, by taking part in design activities such as “PLAY! Tomorrow’s Tropical Cities” and “DesignSingapore Council x UNIQLO Design Challenge – Mottainai: Old Clothes, New Life”.
“I wanted to combine my personal design skills with the sub-themes of nostalgia play and nature play which led me on an interesting journey understanding more about bioplastics,” she elaborated on the PLAY! Challenge. As the Challenge took place during the Circuit Breaker period, she learnt to be adaptable, even experimenting with bioplastics in her own kitchen.
For the Mottainai Challenge, which looked at elevating fashion waste, Rebekah was recognised for reimagining the traditional trouser pattern with a transformable element made entirely from upcycled samples and used donated garments. She emerged as one of the five winners. This inspired her to continue to learn and push for innovative methods in sustainable garment construction.
Rebekah has recently started learning how to weave on a floor loom for a project. This is quite a tedious and ‘back-breaking’ endeavour, but it has been a fun and rewarding process for her!
The Future of Local Design
Rebekah hopes to assure future designers that passion can make for a fulfilling, viable career. And there is no better way to realise that passion than through the Dsg Scholarship.
“There is a growing pool of fashion talent in Singapore, and with our multicultural community, there is great potential for you to build your skillset and find opportunities to make a difference.”
For Rebekah, this means continuing her exploration of transformative ready-to-wear designs, specialising in sustainable fashion design and strategy.