When all we had as the Society of Interior Designers (SIDS) was a lofty vision and a great ambition with a lot of planning and legwork left to be covered for SIDFest, we were very fortunate to have had National Design Centre (NDC) and DesignSingapore Council’s full support from the get-go.Soon after we pitched the idea of an interior design festival, NDC presented us with the thematic notion of “Casting Hope”.

We responded by rallying all sectors of the design industry to step forward with an optimistic take on the global pandemic and to showcase the lessons learnt as well as the achievements.

Our mantra for the festival manifesto: If design is a way of solving problems, then we were designed to design. It challenged us as spatial planners and designers to fully utilise NDC’s premises for the festival with an objective we called “The NDC Takeover Masterplan”.

Besides the central atrium, the venue for the flagship exhibition Design By Numbers, we managed to flesh out a series of programmes at other various locations and spaces around the historic building. What we achieved was considerably unprecedented.

James Wee, a budding writer from the secretariat team, came up with the festival title, Optimised/Optimism. After passing through the entire process of curating, preparing, designing and cobbling together the makings of a design festival in an incredibly short while dealing with the stress of an ongoing pandemic, I can safely say that Optimised/Optimism fully describes what we have come to personify.

“In 2020, we’ve seen the worst.

But we’ve also seen the best.

We’ve seen people kinder than we ever knew.

We’ve seen new ways, new ideas, changes made for the better.

We fought hard.

We became smarter and more adaptable than we ever imagined.

And, at least, we made the most of it.” 

As festival director, it warmed my heart to have so many passionate individuals from the design field come together with the shared purpose of making the festival that you see today happen while still running their businesses.

I am also grateful for the unwavering support of the SIDS Council and the guidance of PLUS Collaborative’s Mervin Tan and Cheryl Sim during our many late-night emergencies and while we fine-tuned all the bells and whistles, developed a festival website, printed posters, coordinated camera points in NDC’s atrium, prepared social media campaigns and worked around the Hightened Alert to produce an even better festival.

This is an amazing opportunity for people outside the design community to see and experience good design.This passage from the festival’s early manifesto perfectly sums everything up for me:

“In 2020, we’ve seen the worst. But we’ve also seen the best. We’ve seen people kinder than we ever knew. We’ve seen new ways, new ideas. Changes made for the better. We fought hard. We became smarter and more adaptable than we ever imagined. And, at least, we made the most of it.” 

SIDFest runs until Sunday, July 18 this year. Highlights include Design by Numbers, [Outside] the Box, 20 Under 45, Generation Next and the Accreditation Roundtable that aims to formally accredit interior design as a profession.