Red Dot accolades for NUS Industrial Design students

Two students from the NUS Division of Industrial Design (DID) have clinched the Red Dot Award: Design Concept 2021 at the prestigious international competition.

Ho Yi Jing and David Ng, third-year students at the NUS School of Design and Environment, were recognised for their designs S+ Watercooler and Eclipur respectively.

This meant that they were among the top 8 per cent out of 4,110 entries from 54 countries to achieve the Red Dot, one of the most internationally sought-after seals of good design quality.

This year, a staggering 9,500 designers, involving 487 teams of designers, 410 companies, 103 design studios, and 149 institutions participated in the competition.

The Red Dot Design Award has its beginnings in 1955. It comprises of three competitions: the Red Dot Award: Product Design, Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design and the Red Dot Award: Design Concept.

The Red Dot Award: Design Concept competition has been held in Singapore every year since 2005. Designers, companies, organisations and universities around the world have the opportunity to submit their design concepts and innovation in 42 categories ranging from living and medicine to communication and security.

Yi Jing and David’s projects stood out amongst the competition.

S+ Watercooler

Looking into designs that can improve everyday life inspired Yi Jing’s award-winning creation. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives and one of it might be in how watercoolers are used or unused because of hygiene concerns.

Yi Jing conceptualised a contactless experience. With the S+ Watercooler, he created a spoutless design and introduced a gap between the drinking module and the sink that nudges the user to keep a distance from the dispensing module.

An automatic sensor picks up a user who approaches the device, activating a water stream. It features a grilled sink, ensuring a drinking experience that is free from unhygienic backsplashes. As the user leaves the watercooler, it activates the washing mode, dispensing water to clean the sink and UV lamps installed beneath the sink are turned on to sanitise the sink.

The dispensing module has been designed larger to fit bottles of various sizes and a sensor placed closer to the base to encourage users to place their bottles on the tray, thus minimising any potential contact between the water bottle and dispensing module.

On his award, Yi Jing said, “The Red Dot award has always been something that I admired at a distance, but never occurred to me that my designs could ever stand a chance. In fact, when Associate Professor Song Kee Hong first approached me to participate, I had much self-doubt and uncertainty. It was his constant encouragement and guidance through the application process which gave me confidence.

This award is hence a testimony to the nurturing ecosystem of DID, where I was a recipient of not only the excellent design guidance of Assoc Prof Song, but also his belief in young designers like me.”


In today’s society, the use of mobile phones before bed and working late into the night might have deprived many of a good night’s sleep. From his research, David found that 50 to 70 million individuals in the United States suffer from one or several sleep disorders and this increases the susceptibility to illnesses such as high blood pressure or even heart attack.

That set David’s mind on designing Eclipur, a product to enhance the sleep experience through a sensorial and holistic way. Eclipur focuses on the senses of hearing, breathing and sight. For instance, it features a built-in nebulising diffuser that can diffuse essential oil such as lavender to ease anxiety and calm the mind before bed. 

This can be combined with soothing modes of music and sounds playing from a built-in speaker at the frequency of 432 Hz, known as the harmonic intonation of nature.

David also added on “breathable” lights to rhythmise the user’s breathing to a 4-7-8 breathing cycle, offering users the “phenomenon of an eclipse by having its cover slowly wrap around the light source, making the user feel a sense of awe”. Eclipur is also designed to be compatible with smartphone apps to track a user’s sleep cycle. 

Expressing delight with the Red Dot recognition, David said, “I would like to thank Assoc Prof Christian Boucharenc and Adjunct Asst Prof Tan Sixiu for the critical feedback, suggestions, and constant support throughout the course of the project. I would also like to thank my peers for always being keen to help and giving me constant feedback. Of course, this would not have been possible without my parents, who have been a great pillar of support, who are always supportive in what I do!”

View David’s Eclipur project below.

Both Yi Jing and David’s designs are being featured on the Red Dot website and will be included in its yearbook and showcased at the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore in April 2022.

DID nurturing many industrial designers

Assoc Prof Christian Gilles Boucharenc, Head of the NUS DID, was proud of the students’ achievements. He said, “This recognition is one of the best international competitions which reflect the quality of our pedagogy. It encourages our DID team to pursue their effort in the research of excellence.”

DID students take on platform courses from the second year onwards which exposes them to seven design domains: product design, service design, UI/UX design, medical and healthcare design, space and retail design, exploratory design and speculative design. This approach has been in place for more than 10 years and has been successful in nurturing many creative and inspiring designers, including Red Dot award winners.

Design projects that achieved the Red Dot Award last year include alumnus Tommy Cheong’s Mirage, a reflective public stool that plays with an optical illusion; as well as health-tracking wearable device Cradle which was designed by Jereme Tan, Shawn Ng and Kwa Li Ying. The Dyslexperience project even won alumni Ng Ai Ling and Yong Zi Fong the Red Dot Award: Product Design Junior Prize, which was awarded to the best piece of work by an up-and-coming designer along with prize money of 10,000 euros.

As Dr Peter Zec, CEO and initiator of Red Dot put it, “a concept has to pave the way for a future product — that is its most important task”.

“In the Red Dot Award: Design Concept, we are looking for brand-new ideas with the potential to become a reality for an improved and enjoyable future. Every product and action start with a concept, and depending on how good or poor the latter is, they will — or will not — be developed and become reality.”