Founding Director of DesignSingapore Council passes away

10 November 2010
Singapore - Dr Milton Tan passed away on 8 November 2010. As MICA Fellow for Design and the founding Director of the DesignSingapore Council, he left an indelible mark on Singapore's design history.
Singapore - Dr Milton Tan passed away on 8 November 2010. As MICA Fellow for Design and the founding Director of the DesignSingapore Council, he left an indelible mark on Singapore's design history. Dr Tan was instrumental in putting design on the government's agenda and, through the Council, promoted and developed the design cluster in Singapore. He was also an influential member and mentor to the Singapore design community.

Before the Council was set up, Dr Milton Tan chaired the multi-agency Design Singapore Taskforce which contributed key recommendations to the Economic Review Committee (ERC) in 2002. These recommendations included those specific to the Singapore's Creative Industries, and design in particular. Following the government's acceptance of the ERC recommendations, Dr Tan was appointed by MICA to set up the DesignSingapore Council in 2003.

Dr Tan spearheaded several initiatives that have brought significant change to Singapore's creative and design industry. He established programmes and initiatives to promote and develop the design sector, including the President's Design Award Singapore, 10TouchPoints, ManyWaysOfSeeing and the Singapore Design Festival.  Dr Tan also initiated the establishment of the DesignSingapore Scholarship, the Overseas Partnership Promotion Programme, "Design Futures" Research and Development grant, Design for Enterprises Programme and the DesignSingapore Studios Programme.

Dr Tan has also been instrumental in developing international design relationships which resulted in the signing of five international Memoranda of Understanding with International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI), the Korea Institute for Design Promotion, the Vitra Design Museum, the Victoria State of Australia, and the Government of Denmark. He was also instrumental in setting up the DesignSingapore International Advisory Panel.

During his tenure, Dr Tan commissioned Singapore's first presentation at the Venice Biennale International Architectural Exhibition in 2004, as well as subsequent pavilions in 2006 and 2008. In 2009, he commissioned the DesignSingapore Design2050 Studios on design propositions for aspects of life in 2050 that made their debut at the Icsid World Design Congress in November 2009.

During Dr Tan's stewardship, Singapore's international design standing reached a record high. Designium's Global Design Watch 2006 singled Singapore out as one of "the real winners" who made the best progress. In 2009, the inaugural International Design Scoreboard supported by the UK Design Council and conducted by University of Cambridge, ranked Singapore at the top position based on design capability (in relative measures).

A Design Strategist, Dr Tan has held several key appointments in international organisations. He was a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Design of Complex Systems, IAP Member of Seoul World Design Capital 2010 and the Past President of the Harvard Club of Singapore. He was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and UK Chartered Architect.

He was also a jury member for local and international design awards and competitions.  This includes the Punggol Waterfront Housing Design Competition (2009) organised by the Housing Development Board (HDB), Denmark's INDEX:Award ‘Design to Improve Life' (2009), France's Observeur du Design Award (2008), iF Design Award China (2008) and the Industrial Design Society of America International Design Award (2007).

Dr Tan relinquished his portfolio in MICA and the DesignSingapore Council in December 2009.

Dr Tan is survived by his wife, Dorothy and two sons, Jason and Ryan. Our heartfelt condolences to his family as we strive to build upon the foundation he had created for design in Singapore.

A wake will be held on 9 and 10 November 2010 at The Garden of Remembrance, 920 Old Choa Chu Kang Road, Singapore 699815. The funeral will be held on 11 November 2010 at Mandai Crematorium Hall 1 at 11:45.

For more information, please contact:

DesignSingapore Secretariat
Ministry of Information, Communications & the Arts
140 Hill Street, #05-00, MICA Building
Singapore 179369
F: +65 6837 9686

About DesignSingapore

The DesignSingapore Council is a high-level Council involving leaders and individuals from the various industry stakeholders, the design community and government. It serves as a common platform to steer the national design agenda and coordinate the implementation of the initiative. The DesignSingapore Council is a Promotional Member of Icograda.