William Harald-Wong is an urban identity designer, working at the intersection of brand, culture, city and community. He collaborates widely with architects and consultants on cultural research, wayfinding, signage, environmental graphics and place-making; infusing a distinctive Asian/Southeast Asian aesthetic to the projects where relevant, and enhancing the human and cultural experience of a place.
He is the Co-Founder and Chairman of The Design Alliance Asia, a collaborative network of prominent designers across 13 countries/regions.
Awards & Recognition
The Design for Asia Awards 2015 was the first design competition our company has entered since the mid-80s.
The Design for Asia Awards 2014, on the other hand, was the first and only submission to a competition to date by The Design Alliance Asia.
Gold award & Grand Award Finalist
Design for Asia Awards, HONG KONG
- Awarded for the studio’s work for Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar, Pekan, Malaysia.
- Malaysia’s first Gold Award as well as Grand Award Finalist in the prestigious competition’s 12-year history.
- The museum scored with an identity that imparts a strong sense of place and purpose, local history and community values.
Link / Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar
Special Award for Culture
Design for Asia Awards, HONG KONG
- Awarded for Colours of Asia, a research project covering 13 Asian regions. The project comprised a number of planned events, including an exhibition, student workshop, forum, seminar, publication and a 650-page research paper.
- A project by The Design Alliance Asia, curated by Prof Ahn Sang-soo and William Harald-Wong.
Link / Colours of Asia
Distinguished Chinese Award
Chinese Who’s Who Society, CHINA & HONG KONG
- Award presented at Putrajaya, the administrative centre of the Malaysian Government, in recognition of William's contribution to the creative communities of China and Hong Kong.
Designomics Leadership Award
World Brand Congress, INDIA
- Awarded in recognition of William’s contribution to the creative and business communities in Asia as Co-Founder and Chairman of The Design Alliance Asia, and former Vice-President of Icograda (now known as ico-D, International Council of Design).
Lifetime Achievement Award
Design Development Centre, MALAYSIA
- The Award by DDEC (Design Development Centre, Kuala Lumpur) recognises outstanding creative talent across all disciplines as they put Malaysia on the world’s creative map.
- To date (2018), only two Lifetime Achievement Awards have been given out—the first to Dato’ Johan Ariff, a pioneer designer for corporate Malaysia in the 70s and 80s; and the second to William Harald-Wong.
International Design Achievement Award
- An interior / architecture award, William was selected in recognition of his contribution to the creative industry of Mainland China.
- Awarded by the Construction Industry Sub-Council of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and Qinghua University Fine Arts College. Supported by China Building Decoration Association and Architectural Society of China.
The Design Alliance Asia, Co-Founder and Chairman
Design for Asia Awards, Hong Kong Design Centre, Regional Expert Panel
World Brand Congress (India), Global Advisory Board Member
Indigo (International Indigenous Design Network), Ambassador
wREGA (Graphic Design Association of Malaysia), Co-Founder & Advisor
Global Pioneer Design Association (China), Vice Chairman
icograda (now known as ico-D, International Council of Design), Vice President, 2001–2003
Professional Member, Society of Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD), USA
Member, Hong Kong–Malaysia Business Association (HKMBA)
The following section documents William’s engagements with the design community in different parts of the world. Written partly as a blog, he shares some insights and personal perspective on people and place.
The final section lists his talks from 1994 to the present day.
Design Engagement—Mainland China
- William served as Vice-President of icograda from 2001 to 2003. Founded in London in 1963, the organisation, renamed ico-D (International Council of Design), is a non-governmental international voice for design.
- “Sometimes things got messy, but it did the work. David Grossman (pictured) was Past President then—we met again 16 years later in Kuala Lumpur at the ico-D ASEAN Regional Meeting 2018”.
- Photo / icograda Board meeting in Beijing 2002.
- “I had to attend four Board meetings in a year, each time held in a different continent; and whenever possible, our members’ design events in some parts of the world as well. It was especially tough when I did not get any government or institutional financial support, and had to run my company at the same time. But the networking and friendships developed over the years were invaluable”.
- Photo / Board members at Beijing airport, always designing on the run. 2002.
- “The years 2002 and 2003 were exciting times and constituted a defining moment in design history. I worked with fellow Board members to seed the formation of professional design associations in China, India and Southeast Asia—all of which, with the exception of Singapore, are countries that have yet to fully engage with the worldwide design community.”
- Photo / The Red Cross International Poster Exhibition was one of many events we officiated in China. Beijing, 2002.
- icograda was the first international design / visual communication organisation invited to China, bringing together various Chinese design stakeholders for a dialogue on international collaboration.
- William gave lectures in Beijing and Shanghai, and visited Tsinghua University and the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA).
- Photo / (Left) One of several Beijing Olympic sculptures installed around the campus of Tsinghua University—this was six years before the Games; (right) Poster for icograda Design Perspectives Seminar in Beijing.
- William’s posters for the Beijing Olympics 2008 and Mata Samseng were auctioned in Shanghai to raise funds for the local design association.
- “The Olympics poster was commissioned by Package & Design Magazine in 2001, a week after Beijing won the bid to host the Games. I was one of the 10 foreign designers / artists (in addition to another 50 Mainland Chinese designers / artists) invited to design posters for a travelling exhibition to inform Chinese citizens about the Olympics win and its significance to the development of the country.”
Link / Posters
- Among various speaking engagements in Mainland China, William was invited to design a poster (titled Better Home City, Better Life) to celebrate the Shanghai World Expo 2010.
- The design was transferred to a commemorative mug sold by registered World Expo retailers.
- Photo / Exhibition at the Fine Art College of Shanghai University and at The Bridge 8 creative industries hub.
- “I don’t recall where I first met Mr Huangli, the publisher of China’s influential Package & Design Magazine, but we kept in contact for over 17 years.
“He invited me to design one of the first posters for the Beijing Olympic Games, regularly introduced our works to Mainland China, and over the years, brought visiting Chinese designers to our studio.”
- Photo / Huangli (in black t-shirt with some motifs on the front) at our studio in 2001.
- William’s studio has welcomed many visiting designers from around the world as well as student interns from the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore (and several more).
- “I wish to thank each and everyone for their lively exchanges with our designers”.
- Photo / Huangli returns with 24 creatives from Mainland China, 2017.
- From 2003 onwards, William devoted more of his time to design activities in Hong Kong. He also focused on expanding an organisation he co-founded, The Design Alliance Asia.
- William finally returned to Mainland China in 2017 when he was invited to witness the Opening Ceremony of Tianjin’s Asia Design Centre, as well as to serve on the panel of judges for the 2017 TEDA Cup International Youth Design Competition.
Design Engagement—Hong Kong
- “Prof. Dr. Kan Tai-keung and Freeman Lau—both of whom I met in Osaka in 1995—have been very beneficent in introducing me to the creative community and design organisations in Hong Kong, a city that I began to travel to quite frequently.”
- Photo / (Left) Kan Tai-keung’s Retrospective exhibition at Hong Kong Design Institute; (Right) Looking at one of the company’s early promotional piece.
- “I took this opportunity to photograph Hong Kong as I discover it, and realised that many local Hong Kong products—toys, plastic stools, plastic balls, school pencil cases, household items, snacks, etc.—were the same ones we had in Malaysia in the 60s and 70s. Beyond instant nostalgia, they highlight the long trade links between the two countries.”
- Photo / Toys Paradise—Creativity and Toy Culture of Hong Kong at Hong Kong Design Institute, 2002.
2001 & 2006
- William’s first trip to Hong Kong as a speaker was for the Hong Kong International Poster Triennial 2001 Symposium held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. His posters, which were exhibited at the Symposium, were added to the Permanent Collection of the Museum.
- In 2006, he was invited to join the panel of jurors for the Design for Asia (DFA) Awards, which then initiated a long working relationship with the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC).
- Photo / DFA Awards 2006 and below, 2017.
- William served on the panel of jurors for the Design for Asia (DFA) Awards in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 (photo) and 2018.
- In 2011, William became a member of the Design for Asia Awards Regional Expert Panel to help HKDC identify local talent and nominate entries. “It is always exciting to trawl the Southeast Asian design landscape, looking for exceptional talent and projects that have yet to receive worldwide recognition.”
- Photo (by HKDC) / DFA Awards Presentation Ceremony at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 2017. “It was a pleasure to share some details about Ezrena Marwan and Jac Kee of Malaysia Design Archives, who have won the Grand Award for Culture at the prestigious Design for Asia Awards.”
- William was a speaker at the Business of Design Week in 2015 (Title of talk: Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar), 2012 (Packaging for the Malay-Muslim Market) and 2004 (The Disciplined Congee).
- “I always look forward to having congee for breakfast, a comfort food that provides a sense of calm and security, especially when one is in a foreign land, far from home. I thought this would make a good title for a talk on design.”
- Either William or one of his associates at tDA Asia would make it a point to attend the annual Global Design Network (GDN) symposium, which promotes the advancement of the design industry on an international level. The symposium also encourage multidisciplinary cooperation between the design and business sectors across nations.
- “I was introduced to the Japan Creators Association (JCA) by Stan Lee, Malaysia’s undisputed ‘Airbrush King’, a leading commercial illustrator. Since its foundation in 1962, JCA has been introducing outstanding artists around the globe to Japanese clients. This was of great interest to me as I was doing quite a lot of illustrations myself besides design. The Japanese Santa Claus above was created for a local greeting card company. To my astonishment, a few years later, I was listed in the 100 Art Directors of the World directory published by JCA.”
- Note: Before computers found their way into the design studio, photographic prints (‘bromides’) of lettering had to be cut and pasted on a plastic overlay [in the above photo (right, the plastic has turned yellowish with time]. This overlay was then moved into position so that the hand-drawn registration marks on the paper and plastic overlay aligned.
A surprise invitation from Japan led to William’s first exhibition outside his home country, Malaysia. This was the Six Asian Designers exhibition, held at DDD Gallery in Osaka.
“Five designers were selected from North Asia for the exhibition, and the Japanese curator asked Freeman Lau if he could look for another participant from Southeast Asia. Freeman then called his contact in Singapore who informed him that 'there aren’t really any good designers in Singapore, but why don't you try this person, William, in Malaysia?'
“I must thank Freeman and the unknown Singaporean for the golden opportunity. It was fated.”
- 6 Asian Designers turned out to be a life-changing event for William as the exhibition connected him to North Asia’s most influential designers. Five years later, Prof. Dr. Kan Tai-keung, Freeman Lau, and later, Prof. Ahn Sang-soo accepted his invitation to be Founding Associates of the Design Alliance (tDA).
- Photo / tDA Asia at Visualogue, Osaka, 2003.
- William participated in the Global Exhibition: Duo Posters by 33 Designers from around the World held at GGG Gallery, Tokyo and DDD Gallery, Osaka.
- 33 leading designers were invited from Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, England, Finland, France, Germany, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and USA to create original works to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the DNP Duo Dojima (DDD) Gallery.
- tDA Asia, representing ten member countries in 2003, presented AsiaBeat—A Clash of Signs and Symbols, a visual feast of Asia’s design culture, at Visualogue, icograda International Design Congress, Osaka.
- “We were invited to do a 45-minute presentation. That worked out to 4.5 minute per country. I asked the Japanese organisers if we could have a longer session, and they came back with the suggestion to do a three-and-a-half-hour presentation instead—longer than a Lords of the Rings movie! I had to quickly devise a presentation format interesting enough to prevent our audience from dozing off, or worse, leave the hall halfway entirely. Pleased to say that it worked.”
Story to come...
- William declined re-election as a Board Member of icograda at the General Assembly in Nagoya to focus his attention on his new organisation, the Design Alliance Asia.
- Photo / Sayonara... Delegates of icograda member associations from around the world at the General Assembly.
- After a hectic one-week icograda programme in Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou, William arrived in Taipei with Board members to preside over the first icograda Asian Regional Meeting.
- “Wherever icograda lands, the host country organises a flurry of design activities, which we do our best to participate in despite some of us being sleep-deprived and jetlagged—something we try our best to hide from our gracious hosts.”
- “In Taiwan, we participated in a seminar, acted as jury for a design competition, conducted a student workshop, organised a community project, as well as held meetings with various local design organisations and government agencies in Taipei and Kaohsiung.”
- Photo / Student workshop with Board member Tiffany Turkington from South Africa, Kaohsiung, 2002. “I assigned the students to create a hybrid Chinese ideograph/symbol that everybody, including the non-Chinese speaking participants, can understand (or at least grasp the basic meaning of).”
- Professor Apex Pang-soong Lin was awarded the icograda Design Achievement Award for his role as “Taiwan Design Mentor”. As a designer and educator, he had created a conducive environment for the advancement of designers—not only in Taiwan, but around the world.
- “This was the start of my long professional relationship with Prof Apex (photo, second from left), who later became a Founding Associate of the Design Alliance Asia.”
- William returned to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 2003 with associates of The Design Alliance Asia for a student workshop and seminar. This was followed by Taipei (2006), Taichung (2015), Tainan (2016) and Taipei (2017). Between 2006 and 2015, William became more involved with Hong Kong.
- Photo / tDA Asia associates in front of the Kaohsiung Museum of Shadow Puppet, 2003
- tDA Asia associates and the late Japanese design master, Shigeo Fukuda were invited to contribute an image for the public park at the Kaohsiung Cultural Centre.
- Photo / The images were illuminated at night and glowed like lanterns along the main road.
- “I created an image of a Chinese and a Malay shadow puppet exchanging gifts as shadow puppetry is a shared tradition between the two countries. The area around Kaohsiung and Pingtung is believed to be the birthplace of this traditional art in Taiwan.”
- William spoke at the International Conference on Visual Design. The invited speakers also exhibited their work at the Taiwan University of Fine Arts.
Link / Posters
- “This was the beginning of my collaboration with Taiwan design organisations, and with Prof Apex Lin of Asia University. Prof Apex is one of the prime movers of the Taiwan International Student Design Competition (TISDC), supported by the iSee Taiwan Foundation.”
- Photo / Prof Apex welcoming speakers from five countries for the TISDC International Design Masters Lecture Series.
- “Just as we sat down for dinner at the (near) top of Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest building, another earthquake hits Taiwan. The timing was perfect.
- “From our location, we were only able to tell that there was an earthquake through a slight shaking of the chandeliers and the agitated reflection of their lights on the walls. Otherwise, the floor and furniture remained surprisingly still.
- Photo / Image taken at the very top of Taipei 101 before the earthquake struck.
- “Earlier, our host had proudly pointed out to us the 730-tonne, four-storey high suspended mass damper—sort of like a ‘hanging ball’ (photo)—that keeps Taipei 101 from toppling over during an earthquake. I kept this photo close by as a reminder—an example of good design that saves lives.”
- In 2016, Taiwan began to actively promote the Taiwan International Student Design Competition (TISDC) and Golden Pin Design Award in Southeast Asia.
- William, industrial designer Rock Wang, and architect Kristof Crolla were invited as the speakers of the first Design Perspectives x Golden Pin Salon 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.
- Photo / “I had three minutes to share 3000 years of Chinese history.” :-)
- William represented tDA Asia at the Global Talent Design Festival (GTDF), organised jointly by the iSee Taiwan Foundation and the Sayling Wen Cultural and Educational Foundation.
- The GTDF comprised a series of events: the Global Talent Design Workshop, the Global Design Leadership Forum, and the 1st World Summit of Design Organisations, attended by representatives from 21 design organisations from around the world.
- During the GTDF, William presented The Design Alliance Asia Prize to the winning team from Taiwan at the TISDC Awards Ceremony in Taipei. TISDC received 18,932 entries from 910 design colleges and universities in 71 countries/regions.
- Photo / With Freeman Lau next to ‘Fundamental’, an animated work that won the tDA Asia Prize (bottom of panel).
“In the 1980s, before the advent of the Internet, many local designers of my generation grew up with American advertising and graphic design, mainly through US magazines (e.g. Print and Communication Arts), and later Creative Review from UK, as well as Idea from Japan. There was scant information on European design.
In the 90s, armed with the names of prominent European designers that I had collected from various sources, I left for London, Netherlands and Paris. Upon arrival, l headed to phone booths to look up their addresses, and then proceeded to knock on their doors—all cold calls.
To my surprise, I was welcomed into their studios, perhaps because I was such a curiosity—a graphic designer from a faraway country that they couldn't quite place*, much less imagine the design work coming from it.”
*most of them knew Singapore and Thailand, have heard of Malaysia but did not know where it was.
“I saved up for my (almost) annual London-Netherlands-Paris visits, which had become a pilgrimage of sorts, until the late 90s. I think this exposure compensated for the rudimentary design education that I had at Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA), although I picked up quite a bit of knowledge by hanging out at the college’s fine arts and Chinese art departments—which were very strong in those days.”
Photo / “I followed (the late) Teh Leong Kwee, a good friend and lecturer who graduated from the Basel School of Design, to his alma mater to see Wolfgang Weingart, the 'father' of New Wave Swiss Typography. Experimental typography was an eye-opener for me, which subsequently led me to the Netherlands.”
mid-90s >> The Netherlands
- “The cutting-edge work of Studio Dumbar in the 90s—with its fine balance between art and commerce—was a major influence in my own work, although my sense of aesthetics differed considerably, coming from the multicultural chaos of Southeast Asia.”
- Photo by Lex van Pieterson / New identity for the Dutch Police, 1993.
- As a reciprocal gesture, William invited Gert Dumbar as Chief Judge for Shriro Paper’s Horseman Awards in Malaysia and Singapore, and a lecture in Indonesia (with Anthon Beeke and Li Edelkoort).
- Michel de Boer, former Creative Director (and later co-owner) of Studio Dumbar, later became one of our associates.
1996—2002 + 2016
- William’s first lecture in Europe was at Einhoven, Netherlands, followed by Paris (1996).
- His last working trip to Continental Europe during the mid-90s/early 2000s was for an icograda Board Meeting and Student Workshop in Brno, Czech Republic (2002).
- Thereafter, he turned his attention to Asia and did not return to Europe for professional design engagement until 14 years later, in 2016.
- Photo / Student workshop in Brno.
MID-90s + 2000 + 2016 >> UK
- William has had a long association and attachment to Britain: work, conferences (ATypl at Reading University), research (museums), books (in the 90s, some of the best books in English on Asian culture could be found in London), and a place to experience cutting-edge design.
- His last trip to UK in the mid-90s/early 2000s was for the Arts in Business: Business in Arts UK study tour, sponsored by The British Council (2002).
- 16 years later, he returned to London as a juror for Design Crafts, D&AD Awards.
- “I was urgently despatched to Qatar (with designers Adil and Hadi) to help spruce up the image of several companies from Terengganu, Malaysia, that will be participating in a trade exhibition in Doha within a few days. If that sounded like an emergency, that’s because it was one.
“Upon arrival, I discovered that only a few companies had proper presentation visuals. The rest were small producers with poor packaging and visual boards that looked amateurish (although this was not indicative of the quality of their products).
- “We scoured Doha for basic art supplies, and then holed up in Sheraton Hotel the next two days to create handmade posters, information boards and some decorative items.
“In spite of the urgency of our hunt around Doha, I noticed that while the buildings in the city looked dated, there were some fresh and experimental graphic design here and there. I am seeing the seed of a design revolution in Qatar.”
- Photo / (Left) The stationery shop in Doha that saved the image of some Malaysian companies; (Right) Window graphics for a local shop selling flip-flops.
- “Qatar, with its vision of a progressive society as well as its history, traditions and contradictions, left a lasting impression on me. I visited VCU, the international school for art and design, and saw my first ice-hockey match in Doha.”
- Photo / Doha in 2003.
- Back to Doha April 2018
- Photo / Doha in 2018. Arrows indicate the location of the two buildings featured in the previous photograph.
Design Engagement—Saudi Arabia
- A recent collaboration between WHW & Associates and urbanphenomena was for the wayfinding and signage programme for the Business Quarter (BQ) in Dammam.
- Photo / Jeddah. “I observed that the locals typically do not refer to street names when giving directions. Instead, they describe the sculptures at the roundabouts to help people find their destinations. There are many roundabouts in the city, each with its own intriguing sculpture piece, and they present a unique wayfinding solution that works for the city’s denizens.”
Design Engagement—South Africa
- William delivered the keynote address, Design in Multicultural Societies, at the DEFSA International Design Education Conference held at the Museum Africa in Johannesburg.
- He attended the Sappi Continental Shift International Design Congress in Sandton City as an icograda Board Member, and was requested to replace an absent speaker at the eleventh hour.
- Photo / Flickr Creative Commons, Martijn Munneke / Patterns from Congress Guide Book.
- William’s first presentation in Australia, titled Graphic Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, was at the Sydney Design 99 International Design Congress, followed by a talk at Gallery 4A—both in Sydney (1999).
- This was followed by talks in Perth (2000) and Melbourne (2001).
- William returned to Australia nine years later on an invitation to speak at Optimism icograda Design Week in Brisbane.
- Photo / Detail of poster for Optimism by Studio Pip and Co.
Design Engagement—New Zealand
- William was invited by Yeoh GH and Prof Hazel Gamec to Wanganui School of Design in New Zealand to give a talk at the School’s UNLEADED Design Camp.
- Photo / Student workshop presentations—students were tasked to explore ways of presenting the letters 'UNLEADED’. This team used fire to form each letter of the word.
“This presentation took place in an open field, unlike all the other workshops I have attended. There is so much beautiful rolling hills in NZ.”
- It is always a pleasure to meet up with fellow Malaysian students studying and living far from home.
- Photo / William with Malaysian students, Yeoh and Judy Christie, Wanganui, May 2001. ”The students tended to stick together—many come from a relatively conservative family background. Sometimes, I wonder how they are all doing today.”
- After his first group exhibition in Japan in 1995, William began to give talks overseas, either by invitation or with the generous support of Arjowiggins/Shriro Paper, which organised lecture talks for him in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and India.
- In the late 90s, both (the late) Nick Mason of Arjowiggins and FC Wong of Shriro Paper played a key role in raising the standards of local design by supporting designers and students.
- Pertubuhan Wakaf Reka Grafik Malaysia (wREGA) or Graphic Design Association of Malaysia was founded on 1 July 2001.
- The Founding (Protemp) Members were William (President), Melisa Wong (Deputy President), Ezra Rahim (Vice President), Abdul Hanan Ahmad (Secretary), Koh Lee Meng (Treasurer), and Committee Members Ben Chua and Asri Ahmad.
- Photo / With Prof Ahn Sang-soo, who was in Malaysia to promote the icograda Oullim conference.
- Through the years, William have had good relations with the interior design association, giving talks and serving on the panel of jurors to provide a branding perspective.
- “I would like to thank the Presidents for the organisation’s firm belief in pluralism—that different design disciplines, approaches and philosophies offer great possibilities and solutions.”
- At the MEX (Magazine Exhibition) Forum at the official opening of the Georgetown Art Festival.
- William has given many lectures at art and design colleges and conferences in Malaysia, including the Malaysian Masters Series (KL Design Week) and Reka Negaraku.
- A full list of lectures appears at the end of this page.
- Photo / FC Wong (centre), wREGA ExCo and friends after wREGA’s AGM 2017
- In 1995, William was paired with Henry Steiner (Hong Kong) for a workshop organised by The Asia Business Forum.
- “Henry slept through my talk during the workshop, but nonetheless, I was much inspired by his seminal work on cross-cultural design.”
- William’s talks in Singapore include the Temasek Design School (1999), International Design Forum (2000) and NTU (2012). His other engagements in Singapore were with tDA Asia.
- Photo / With students of Temasek Design School, 1999.
- World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF)
- William spoke on Collaborative Networks in the Marketplace of Creative Arts, a programme of WIEF, which brings together artists of the Islamic World.
- Photo / Lecture Slide—Intercultural spaces, its potential—Designer Ena Hadzir working on her 3D model, WHW Studio.
- “Other than Malaysia, Indonesia, too, has had a great influence on my work as a young, impressionable designer. The cultural differences between Malaysia and Indonesia (Java) were surprising to me at that time, considering that both countries belong to Nusantara—an old Javanese word for archipelago, but which was adopted to mean ‘the Malay world’ in Malaysia.”
- “In Jogjakarta, Indonesia, you can enjoy a shadow puppet performance sitting in front of or behind the screen, where the orchestra plays; while in Kelantan, Malaysia, you can only sit in front of the screen. In terms of design, there is a world of difference, from the form and colours of the puppets to the relationship between the performers and the audience. This is just one of many differences—some obvious, others subtle.”
- William’s early visual research covered Kuala Lumpur (where he worked), the small towns of Peninsula Malaysia, as well as Jogjakarta, Solo and Bali.
- It was in Bali—during the mid-90s, still largely authentic before mass tourism overwhelmed the island—where he was given the opportunity to do his first documentary project for a client.
- Link / The Bali Project
- In 2006, William was invited by the Indonesia for the World consortium, along with tDA associates from Singapore and Thailand, to advise on a national initiative to create world-class export products through strategic design.
- Thus began William’s engagement with the Indonesian design community in Jakarta and Bandung.
- Photo / Outline of Indonesia’s Design Road Map 2006–2010 by Her Excellency Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Trade. William gave a talk on brand authenticity.
- William tDA associate, Punlarp Punnotok (Thailand), led a workshop with the aim of repackaging local food items to meet modern export requirements, but without losing their unique visual appeal.
- “The workshop brought together Indonesia’s young talent from different disciplines. We were only there to share our own experience—it was really their show. One could sense their immense potential and energy.”
- “Bandung seemed to bustle with passionate and creative people, many having graduated from Institut Teknologi Bandung. One of Indonesia’s foremost architects was Ridwan Kamil, who invited my wife, Lindsey, and myself to his home: the famous ‘Bottle House’.”
- Photo / With Prof Nezar AlSayyad, whom we met at the Arte-polis 3 International Conference earlier in the day.
- Photo / Ridwan’s collection of miniature chairs at his home. He mentioned to us in passing that he wanted to run for public office, and three years later, he was elected Mayor of Bandung.
- William was invited to give an introductory speech at a 3-day workshop aimed at alleviating Bandung’s infamous traffic jams, focusing on new, alternative routes (via bicycles) to get from point to point.
- tDA India associate, Ashwini Deshpande, presented a case study of Elephant Design’s efforts to improve Pune’s bus transportation system and to change the perception that only the poor take the bus.
William gave a talk, titled Culture, Nature and Designing for Change, at the 3rd International Conference of Bandung Creative Movement with the theme Multidisciplinary Design: Harmonizing design in today’s society, technology and business.
“Indonesia seems to like long titles for their conferences.”
To be continued... William’s engagements with India, South Korea and the countries of Southeast Asia
Lectures & Workshops (local & international)
Sep 2018 SINGAPORE Under the Skin: Cultural Encounters, International Design Master Lecture Series TISDC, National Design Centre
Jul 2018 MALAYSIA What the Email asked..., Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA), Kuala Lumpur
Nov 2017 TAIWAN Workshop: Global Talent Design, Taiwan International Student Design Competition (TISDC), Taipei
Jul 2017 MALAYSIA Design Thinking, Doing, Dreaming, Cursing…, Keynote Speaker, Malaysian Designscape, UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur
Jun 2017 MALAYSIA Leveraging our Multicultural Advantage, Reka Negaraku, National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
May 2017 MALAYSIA Colours of Asia—Red Yellow Blue Green Black White, Badan Warisan, Kuala Lumpur
May 2017 MALAYSIA Under the Skin: Cultural Encounters & Exchange, Design Perspectives x Golden Pin Salon (organised by Taiwan Design Centre), PAM Centre, Kuala Lumpur
Apr 2017 MALAYSIA Design Integration as a Means to Design Change, REKA Sessions, Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID), Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, Selangor
Mar 2017 MALAYSIA Communicating the Value of Design, wREGA AGM, First City University College, Selangor
Nov 2016 INDONESIA Culture, Nature and Designing for Change, 3rd International Conference of Bandung Creative Movement, School of Creative Industries, Telkom University, Bandung
Nov 2016 MALAYSIA Colours of Asia, School of Applied Creative Arts and Design, Han Chiang College, Penang
Oct 2016 TAIWAN Asian Voice, Asian Value, Kun San University, Tainan
Oct 2016 TAIWAN WHW Recent Projects, tDA AsiaMeets (open sharing session), National Cheng Kung University, Tainan
Mar 2016 MALAYSIA Meet Mr Font, the neglected and abused child with a lot of stories to tell, A Case for Type Design Conference, First City University College, Selangor
Dec 2015 TAIWAN Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar—Gold Award, The Power of Asian Design, Asia University, Taichung City
Dec 2015 HONG KONG Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar—Gold Award, DFA: Design for Asia, Business of Design Week, Hong Kong
Oct 2015 BANGKOK WHW Recent Projects, tDA AsiaMeets, Bangkok
Sep 2015 TAIWAN Colours of Asia, TISDC Design School Ranking Preparatory Conference, Asia University, Taichung City
Aug 2015 MALAYSIA Colour & Symbolism in Packaging for Muslim Market, Key Speaker, Forum of Asia Pacific Graphic Arts, Kuala Lumpur
Jan 2015 MALAYSIA WHW Design, Jack-in-the-Box, wREGA, Kuala Lumpur
Oct 2014 MALAYSIA WHW Design, Raffles Design Institute, Kuala Lumpur
Sep 2014 MALAYSIA An Insight to Design, Keynote Speaker, MADE Design Festival, wREGA (Graphic Design Association of Malaysia) and MRM (Design Council of Malaysia), KL Library, Kuala Lumpur
Apr 2014 MALAYSIA Research and Design for Cultural Projects, Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur
Oct 2013 MALAYSIA Space +Brand +Research +Stories +Culture +Placemaking, Design Diversity REKA Conference, Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID), Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
Jun 2013 MALAYSIA WHW Recent Projects x3, MEX—Magazine Exhibition & Forum, Green Room, Penang Arts Festival
Jan 2013 MALAYSIA Workshop: Rebranding the Museum, for staff of Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar, Pahang
Dec 2012 MALAYSIA Boost Profits with Good Design (title given by organiser), 5th MAKMAL Series, Publika, Kuala Lumpur
Dec 2012 HONG KONG Asian Design & Culture, Business of Design Week (BoDW), HKCEC
Nov 2012 INDIA Looking for Asia, Designomics Conclave, World Brand Congress, Mumbai
Mar 2012 SINGAPORE A Sense of Being, Nanyang Technological University
Dec 2011 LAOS The Design Alliance Asia, Made in Laos Forum, Lao National Chamber of Commerce (LNCCI), Lao ITECC, Vientiane
Feb 2011 SINGAPORE The Design Alliance & Indigo—Collaborative Networks, Bridging Communities Through Arts Forum, Marketplace for the Creative Arts (World Islamic Economic Forum), Asian Civilisation Museum
Oct 2010 AUSTRALIA The Spirit and a Sense of Being, Optimism International Conference, Icograda Design Week, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Aug 2010 MALAYSIA WHW Design, Taylor’s University College, Selangor
May 2010 MALAYSIA WHW Design—Design & Philosophy, Malaysian Masters Forum, Kuala Lumpur Design Week 2010
Apr 2010 MALAYSIA WHW Design, World Graphics Day: The Value of Design, KBU International College, Selangor
Aug 2009 MALAYSIA WHW Recent Projects, tDA AsiaMeets, Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, Selangor
Jun 2009 MALAYSIA Being Local, The Local Design Culture, Thinklab, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
May 2009 MALAYSIA WHW Recent Projects, Interiors Malaysia 2009, Business of Interiors International Conference, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur
Nov 2008 MALAYSIA ...mythology+identity+shamanism+technology+nature+ritual+architecture+..., Kyoorius Designyatra International Design Conference in conjunction with 30th Anniversary of 4As (Association of Accredited Advertising Agents) Malaysia Kancil Awards Festival, Kuala Lumpur
Jun 2007 MALAYSIA The Transformative Power of Visual Strategy, Launch of I Love Penang Brand, Georgetown, Penang
Dec 2006 TAIWAN Naga–The Serpent Symbol of Southeast Asia, International Conference on Visual Design, Taiwan University of Fine Arts, Taipei
Nov 2006 MALAYSIA The Transformative Power of Visual Strategy, Retail Revolution Asia Congress, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
Sep 2006 SAUDI ARABIA Naga–Mythical Design Symbol of Southeast Asia, UrbanPhenomena Visualogue, Jeddah
Sep 2006 VIETNAM Brand Identity for Banking—Case-studies from Malaysia and China (a joint presentation with Freeman Lau, Hong Kong), APEC Design+Strategy International Conference, an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) event endorsed by the Vietnamese Government, Ho Chi Minh City
Jul 2006 INDONESIA A Brand has to feel like a Friend, Indonesia Design Power, Launch of Road Map to Enhance the Added-Value of Export Products through Design 2006–2010 by Ministry of Trade, Jakarta
Nov 2004 HONG KONG The Disciplined Congee, Lifestyle Asia, Business of Design Week (BoDW), HKCEC
Nov 2004 SOUTH KOREA Naga—Serpent Spirit of Southeast Asia, Samwon Gallery, Seoul;
Nov 2004 SOUTH KOREA Imagining the Invisible, Hong-ik University, Seoul
May 2004 VIETNAM Building Brands for a Nation, Branding Across Asia presented by The Design Alliance, Nikko Hotel, Hanoi
Nov 2003 INDIA Through the Looking Glass (and what the interior architects and graphic designers saw...), DesignSutra, IFI International Design Congress, Mumbai
Nov 2003 TAIWAN Malaysia—Crossroads of Culture and Design, Lectures and workshops by The Design Alliance, International Chinese Design Education Seminar, Kaohsiung
Oct 2003 JAPAN AsiaBeat—A Clash of Signs and Symbols, a 3 1/2 hour presentation by The Design Alliance, Visualogue, icograda International Design Congress, Nagoya
Oct 2003 THAILAND Using the Internet to Manage Brands Across Regions, New Challenges for Identity by the Design Alliance, Bangkok
Mar 2003 INDIA Using the Internet to Manage Brands Across Regions, B.I.G. (Brands.Identities.Graphics), icograda–NID Design Perspectives Seminar, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
Jan 2003 MALAYSIA Managing Brands, Designer’s Saturday #2, Asia Design Forum, Teknion, Selangor
Oct 2002 TAIWAN Brands and Cross-cultural Communications, Innovalue & Brand Design Conference, icograda Design Week, Taipei International Convention Center
Sep 2002 TAIWAN Design in Southeast Asia, icograda Design Education Symposium, Tung Fang Institute of Technology, Kaohsiung
Sep 2002 CHINA Design for Cultural Institutions, Design Perspectives Seminar, Beijing Art and Design College
Sep 2002 CHINA Brand and Corporate Identity Design in Malaysia, Identity & Communication Conference Asia, JinMao Tower, Shanghai
Mar 2002 CANADA Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, gdc Environs ’002: Design Without Borders, Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, Vancouver
Jan 2002 MALAYSIA Graphic Design over the Next 5 Years, Galeri Petronas, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
Mar 2001 AUSTRALIA Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, Over the Fence Seminar, RMIT University, Melbourne
Oct 2001 HONG KONG The Great Divide, International Poster Symposium, Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Sep 2001 SOUTH AFRICA Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, Continental Shift, Icograda-IFI International Design Congress, Sandton City, Johannesburg
Sep 2001 SOUTH AFRICA Design in Multicultural Societies, Keynote Address, DEFSA International Design Education Conference, Museum Africa, Johannesburg
Jun 2001 MALAYSIA Malaysia at the Centre of Southeast Asian Design, wREGA, Ming Court Vista Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
May 2001 NEW ZEALAND Unleaded, Design Survival Camp 5, Wanganui Polytechnic, Royal Wanganui Opera House, Wanganui
Oct 2000 SINGAPORE Design in Southeast Asia, International Design Forum 2000, Suntec City
Oct 2000 SOUTH KOREA We are the Nagas, Not Dragons, Oullim, icograda Millennium Intl. Design Congress, Seoul
Sep 2000 AUSTRALIA Graphic Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, Australian Graphic Designers Association, Perth
Nov 1999 LAOS Our Approach to Corporate Identity, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Vientiane
Sept 1999 AUSTRALIA Graphic Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, Sydney99 International Design Congress
Sept 1999 AUSTRALIA Graphic Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, Gallery 4A, Sydney
July 1999 MALAYSIA Workshop: The British Council’s New Corporate Identity, for the staff of the British Council, Kuala Lumpur
Jul 1999 INDIA Design TALKS, A lecture tour covering Bangalore, Mumbai (2 lectures) and New Delhi
Jul 1999 SINGAPORE Graphic Design at the Cultural Crossroads of Southeast Asia, Temasek Design School
Mar 1997 VIETNAM Shaping the New Face of Vietnam, Fine Art University, Ho Chi Minh City
Nov 1996 FRANCE Cross-cultural Design—the Malaysian Experience, Parsons School of Design, Paris
Nov 1996 NETHERLANDS Cross-cultural Design—the Malaysian Experience, Akademie Industriele Vormgeving Einhoven (now known as The Design Academy), Einhoven
Sep 1996 MALAYSIA A Sense of Self—Corporate Identity in Malaysia and Graphic Design, Cultural Identity & Pineapples, Penang
Nov 1995 JAPAN The Present & Future State of Asian Design, 6 Asian Designers, DDD Gallery in Osaka
Oct 1995 MALAYSIA Workshop: An Overview of Corporate Identity and Colours in Identity Systems, for Renong Berhad and its subsidiary companies
Jun 1995 SINGAPORE & MALAYSIA Workshop: Cross-Cultural Design and Corporate Identity, with Mr Henry Steiner of Hong Kong, The Asia Business Forum
Apr 1995 MALAYSIA The Design-culture of Bali and its Relevance to Malaysian Designers, Petronas Gallery in conjunction with a photographic exhibition, Tokoh-tokoh Seniman Werdha
Aug 1994 MALAYSIA Ingredients of an Award-winning Annual Report—Information-rich Graphics. Launch of NACRA 1994 (National Annual Corporate Report Awards), Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange
plus earlier lectures from 1992