Dennis Tay, the founder of online store Naiise, tells us why and how everyone should get into design.

What got you interested in doing what you’re doing?

I always had a strong belief that design is one of those things that can improve people’s lives in tangible and intangible ways. Yet design wasn't really accessible in Singapore for a number of reason: limited exposure for designers or brands, and a misconception that design was expensive and "atas". So I started Naiise with the hope of addressing these problems, and helping more people discover design through a good platform.

Where do you get inspiration?

Great brands like Apple, Nike and Chanel have really inspired me. I also love to find inspiration from places like Pinterest and Flipboard; I love how I get to see so many great ideas and things from all around the world all consolidated in one place.

Who's your personal hero?

I really admire the late Steve Jobs, who was a great influence on me.

How do you think design should affect people?

Design exists everywhere but we tend to forget the role it plays in our lives. It is in the products we live with that inspire and help us live better everyday, and these products can make us smile, beautify a personal space or perform functions that add value to our everyday lives. Waking up daily to objects and spaces we love can actually make a positive impact on how our day will turn out. So I believe the things we own are, to a large extent, an important part of our lives and make us who we are.

You decided to turn down some lucrative offers because you felt the integrity of your business would be compromised. What do you stand for and what are some of the challenges you face?

Trying to effect change and make a business sustainable at the same time is definitely difficult, so funding can be tempting because you won’t have to work so hard and you can expand much more quickly. But I believe it’s even more important to focus on building a great product that people would love to use, and that itself should help you get to the next level. I felt the offers would have changed the design ecosystem of Singapore. It takes time for people to grow and appreciate design in the correct way. I didn't want to give that up.

What is your design philosophy in a nutshell?

Design is meant to be for everyone and for everyday. It just shouldn’t be made out to be a high brow and alienating thing. I hope in time the community will find it easier to adopt design and not be afraid of it.

What do you think are the next big trends or changes we'll see soon in Singaporean design?

People are becoming more aware of design and how it contributes to everyday living, and they now have more choices to design and products than before. I think that's definitely an upward trend towards the adoption and use of good design, and we'll become more design-centric as a society. With that demand in place, I believe that many of our talented local designers can further pursue their passion locally.


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