Singapore designer Ng Zi Ning has designed a book, Making Mistakes, which highlights the importance of mistakes made during any learning process or a given task. The project is one of the selected projects to be showcased at the Global Grad Show 2019, a platform that presents innovative creations by university graduates and professors in the fields of design, science and technology, which have an impact on social and environmental issues. The Global Grad Show takes place along the sidelines of Dubai Design Week, an annual event that spans a variety of design disciplines, and has, over time, come to be known as Middle East’s largest creative festival. This year the event will take place from November 11 to 16, 2019. DE51GN speaks to Ng about her project and the thought process behind it.
DE51GN: Tell us about yourself.
Ng Zi Ning (ZN): After recently graduating from the National University of Singapore’s Division of Industrial Design (DID), I’m currently working as a short-term designer in Design Incubation Centre (DIC), an industrial design research laboratory based in DID.
DE51GN: How did the project get selected for the 2019 Global Grad Show in Dubai?
ZN: To be honest, I have no idea! I really hope to find out why when I head over to Dubai in November. Regardless of the reason, I feel extremely honoured and grateful for this opportunity. DE51GN: What did your design process entail?
ZN: Making mistakes — lots of them! Each iteration is a mistake that helped me to understand what works and what doesn’t, so that my next attempt is better. Research is done simultaneously to help me make more informed decisions in my design. Feedback from my readers, peers and tutor is also a major part of the process.
DE51GN: Do you reckon in our conservative society, we are less accepting of mistakes?
ZN: I do think we are more results-oriented than performance-minded, such that when we inevitably make mistakes, we want to hide them away. This is aided by the digital age where things can be easily and carefully curated. But it is heartwarming to see changes in the education landscape, slowly but surely.
DE51GN: What do you hope this project might lead to?
ZN: This project started because of a poignant conversation with my cousin. Through this book, I hope that my cousin (and other little ones) understands that being wrong is not a fearful thing — it is what one chooses to do after making the mistake that matters more. I also hope that this book would become one of the many opportunities for children to safely make mistakes. DE51GN: What other projects are you working on now?
ZN: I’m currently working on another book I made when I was in my third year of university. Using different shadow effects, it tells a story about parental love. I hope to be able to produce a batch of it soon. DE51GN: One invention that you feel has transformed society?
ZN: Gutenberg’s press. It was the first time information and stories could be mass-produced and thus be spread to the global population. It was no longer just the wealthy who could afford books — everyone could be empowered with knowledge.