Ministry of Design

Ministry of Design (MOD) was created by Colin Seah to question convention and redefine the spaces, forms and experiences that surround us and give meaning to our world. MOD’s explorations are created amidst a democratic studio-like atmosphere and progress seamlessly between form, site, object and space. MOD loves to question where the inherent potential in contemporary design lies, and then to disturb the ways projects are created or perceived – redefining the world around us in relevant and innovative ways, project by project. This, they declare, is real change, not change for the sake of novelty.

Fortified with these aspirations, MOD begins each distinct project anew by seeking to do two things: to draw deeply from the context surrounding each project, but also to dream freely so that they might transcend mere reality and convention. Each MOD project endeavours to be delightfully surprising yet relevant; distinctly local but still globally appealing.

Headquartered in Singapore and with offices in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, MOD was declared a ‘Rising Star of Architecture’ by the Monocle Singapore Survey 2010 and ‘Designer of the Year’ by the International Design Awards, USA 2010. Its recent portfolio includes Vanke Qingdao Plaza, Ascendas Guangzhou Knowledge City, award-winning Vanke Triple V Gallery & UOL Edge Gallery (World Architecture Festival 2012), Tangs Flagship Store and Macalister Mansion hotel (Best Luxury Hotel at Gold Key NYC 2013).

MOD provides a service that transcends mere design skills or technical prowess. They prefer to start far upstream by employing design thinking that is both strategic and conceptual, avoiding the immediate impulse for groundless downstream solutions. With each project, the aim is to establish a relevant design ‘north star’ – a central notion and idea potent enough to guide them definitively through the entire design process. This upstream approach translates into a wide variety of possible downstream design solutions and media – be it architecture or product design, graphics or interior design, even the weaving of diverse disciplines into a single project. As a result, MOD’s work is holistic as well as bespoke. When patrons become partners, MOD produces its very best designs. A single passion binds them: to question, disturb and redefine the experiences that surround us.

The studio believes it is important to provide an environment conducive to innovation. HR practices support real work-life balance. For example, MOD started ‘3.30pm Fridays’ in 2007 as an incentive to attract and retain hires. For creatives, the freedom to catch a late afternoon Friday flight for a weekend getaway meant more travel and exploration opportunities. The underlying ethos is that in order to innovate and design new experiences, a creative must be able to leave work on time, enjoy a work-life balance, and be able to drink, eat, shop and travel.

From our thematic birthday celebrations and year-end retreats to monthly sharing sessions by new team members, there is a tremendous effort within the firm to increase cohesiveness by celebrating individuals. Each person brings new ideas to the firm, and that is celebrated. MOD also encourages internal growth in the innovation realm by arranging for th firm’s various heads to give topical talks on new innovations and ideas.

Photography: Colin Seah, Edward Hendricks, and others