As Singapore pedals along with a government masterplan to steer the city-state into a “car-lite” future, 2017 will see key infrastructural developments being built to spark a national cycling culture. By 2030 all 26 public-housing estates will have respective cycling networks connecting commuters to other forms of public transport and key amenities; work has begun on the first section of an impressive Round Island Route that will connect a series of parks along a 150km leafy stretch. Complementary facilities such as an underground bicycle-parking system – especially useful in land-scarce Singapore – and the nation’s first large-scale bike-sharing schemes are also being piloted in 2017. The question is whether these developments will be able to change the mindset of a hesitant community. With bicycle ramps and riders’ safety campaigns already on the way, it looks like the answer may just be yes.
With 2017 around the corner, the design world is busy prepping for the year ahead. The new year kicks off with international furniture fair IMM Cologne (16 to 22 January) at the Koelnmesse, starring US designer Todd Bracher as guest of honour. At the same time, Maison & Objet (20 to 24 January) will set up shop in the French capital, where the likes of Hartô and By Lassen will be showing off their latest collections. Come spring all eyes will be on Milan’s Salone del Mobile (4 to 9 April), which brings together more than 2,000 international exhibitors and 300,000 visitors eager to discover the latest projects by brands such as Artek and Flexform. Finally for some Scandi minimalism there’s Stockholm’s Furniture and Light Fair (7 to 11 February), featuring Swedish stylist Lotta Agaton’s Contrasts exhibition, which throws light on how 2017 will further blur the line between residential and public interiors.
With foreign investment flooding Sydney, Australia’s biggest city is booming with new infrastructure and building developments. Big-name international designers David Chipperfield and Muir Livingstone recently touched down to pitch in on a competition for a major project at Circular Quay, following in the footsteps of international architects who have made a mark in the city – such as Frank Gehry, with his controversial Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology, and Dane Jørn Utzon, who was behind the Sydney Opera House. It’s only fitting that the urban fabric of such a cosmopolitan city be shaped by an international cast. But with Chipperfield raising fears that Sydney is in danger of becoming “another Doha” of boring towers, it will have to be seen whether the city can harness foreign investment in a manner that won’t erase the character of the place and its people.
With the current boom in the creative economy, the importance of design education has never been quite so valuable. Across 2017 we’ll be paying close attention to the next crop of talent emerging from the world’s best design schools. Ones to watch include London’s Central Saint Martins, which will become the first major design institute to roll out an MBA course fashioned to encourage Masters graduates to apply a more creative approach to solving business problems. Then there’s Turin’s IAAD – whose graduates fuel the design teams of the great Italian car brands, from Ferrari to Maserati – and the University of Art and Design in Lausanne (Ecal), the work of whose graphic-design graduates is on display at the Vitra Design Museum until 8 January.
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