Soul Searching – The Thrills (and Chills) of Graduating

I'm graduating in 4 months, and part of Art Center's Product Design curriculum for graduating students is this class called Professional Preparation, led by Wendee Lee and our Department Chair, Karen Hofmann

Kicking things of in the first week's exercise we were tasked to build our personal cairn that reflected our journey as a designer.

Below is the essay that I wrote from that assignment. It's a little long but I guess this is why it's gonna be a process of editing and summarizing over the course of the term. 


More than a philosophy or form of personal expression, I view design as a value-added service, a tool, to help businesses and companies grow to achieve their strategic objectives. This current view of design harks back to what made me first fall in love with design. 

Being born and raised in Singapore, I went through the notoriously rigid and monotonous Singaporean education system, where it was mostly about writing the right answer, scoring well for exams, and keeping your opinion to yourself. It went on like that till I was 15, in my 3rd year of secondary school, where I enrolled myself to an elective class called Design & Technology, a basic shop class teaching skills like woodworking and using power tools. It was there that I was first exposed to the design process. The reiterative and explorative nature of the design process immediately struck a chord with me, as I was challenged to explore a variety of solutions to a problem, and that there was no ‘one right answer’. 

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That experience 10 years ago sparked an interest in me that grew into a passion for using design to solve problems. Fast-forwarding the timeline to today, where experiences such as serving in the Air Force, leading a team of MBAs on a design project while on exchange at INSEAD, as well as an internship with Continuum, has shaped me to understand the powerful and relevant potential that design can have in a corporate and business context.

This is where I want to position myself, to play a role in bridging the gap between business and design, complementing quantitative data & analysis with qualitative research & insights, meeting business targets while delivering products and services that enhance the lives of the people who use them.

My cairn, with the front-facing towered structure, reflects the accumulation of experiences like those, building a strong and solid foundation that shaped my understanding of what design is and how it is applied in the ‘real world’. And now that I am at the top, at the pinnacle of my design education, I have a much clearer perspective of how design relates to myself, as well as the world around me.

What I know is that there is still so much more to learn and so much more experiences to be gained that even though this tower might have reached its completion, another journey waits, as represented by the half-built bridge at the top of the tower.