Three young Malaysian designers win study trips to Europe

For the future: Simon’s idea of an eco-friendly cafeteria for factory workers integrated with trees where food waste can be recycled into fertiliser.

The Dulux Emerging Talent Awards (DETA) 2012 last weekend saw three Malaysian students winning the grand prize of an overseas study trip to London and Amsterdam.

DETA 2012 saw Simon Chong Sin Man of UCSI University, Johnson Heng Chun Sheng from Saito College and Melissa Chong Sook Lynn from Alfa International College emerge as this year’s winners, outshining over 400 other students from a total of 17 colleges and universities.

DETA is an annual design competition now into its third year in Malaysia and is organised by AkzoNobel, a multi-national Fortune 500 company (headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) which acquired ICI Paints (and the Dulux brand) in 2008.

Students were given just an empty cardboard box, some paint (of course) and two hours to come up with their ideas on three topics namely, “appreciating the past” (designing a commercial display space), “embracing the present” (for a dining space) and “answering the future” (dedicated to an office space).

Simon punched holes in the top of his box and inserted some twisted newspapers into some of them.

“This is my idea for an eco-friendly cafeteria for factory workers,” he explained.

His vision resembled a tropical forest, with trees (represented by the twisted papers) on the roof with roots running down to the cafeteria floor below.

“This design also looks at how food waste can be recycled into fertiliser,” he added.

Johnson turned his box into a mini courtyard home resembling Penang’s famous Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. His proposal is to merge fengshui with modern architecture that makes environmental sense.

“Heat can escape from the air well in the middle of the house. The most important rooms should near here, so that they can avoid the direct sun,” he said.

As for Melissa, she proposed a work and living space which can double up as a ecological research centre in the air, on land, and under water.

For the contestants, practice does indeed make perfect.

“This is the third time that I am competing in the challenge and I have sort of learnt what the judges are looking for,” says Simon.

Similarly, this is Johnson’s second shot at DETA.

“Last year we were given one big piece of paper to put forward our ideas, this year I was surprised when we were given a box instead.”

“Dulux has been emphasising eco-friendly design and I hope to learn about such ideas during our trip to Europe.”

Another new twist in this year’s DETA is that the lecturers were also able to compete in a Strategic Design Challenge. The winner, who will accompany the students to Europe, was Mohd Khairul Idzham from Malaysian Institute of Art.

His idea was for public benches and bus stops that are filled with water and algae to help purify polluted water and to produce more oxygen.

“I have read about a factory in Spain using algae like that, so I thought why not do a down-sized version in a bench?” he said.

ICI Paints Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director CW Goh, of says, “At AkzoNobel, we are committed to support the emergence of young Malaysian talent. This design competition is a chance for students to showcase their design skills and to demonstrate the possibilities of a sustainable future with regard to interior design.”

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