British Council Challenges Ngee Ann Polytechnic Students

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A total of 42 young aspiring designers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic were posed a challenge by the British Council to create a school bag prototype for its students. The bag had to showcase brand UK and at the same time captivate British Council’s young learners in terms of form and function.


On 22 November 2012, 42 students from the Diploma in Product Design and Innovation course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic were given a brief from British Council (Singapore) to design the British Council school bag. The bag had to encompass elements from the UK, and through the quality of the designs, demonstrate British Council’s position as a market leader in teaching English. These bags will be given as part of a free stationery package to all British Council students from the ages of four to fifteen.

As part of their EUCD (Ergonomic and User-Centred Design) projects, the polytechnic students had to put their skills to the test and produce a new school bag that young kids would like and at the same time meet their needs for their study at the British Council’s English language centres.

Finally, at the end of an intensive two months, 42 proposals were submitted and judged. It was an immensely difficult judging process because of the explosion of brilliant ideas that were presented. Six proposals were eventually picked out for their refreshing designs, thoughtful layouts and suitability for students in Singapore.

The 6 shortlisted bags were then put to vote. Voting occurred through two ways: British Council teachers conducted a poll in class and a public poll was conducted on British Council’s Facebook, to a 32,000-strong fan base.


The British Council will be awarding prizes to Caryn Chng, Lin Dapeng, and Lai Hong Yun for coming in first, second and third places respectively for their exceptional work.

Our top winner, Caryn, has shown outstanding potential despite being only 19 this year. She stood out from the rest of her classmates for her innovative incorporation of the globally-recognised Union Jack symbol and the appropriateness of her design for the target market.

A pocket for holding water bottles was sewn onto the right side of the backpack so that the student could easily grab hold of the bottle whenever a drink was needed.

A pocket on the left was just the right size to hold pencil cases.

Compartments were built into three sections on the front and zips hidden behind the red and white stripes, to deter pickpockets.

Cushioned straps support the heavy weight of school books for comfort.

These impressive concepts demonstrated clearly without a doubt, that there are indeed qualities that separate a great designer from the good ones.

Having an authentic understanding of how your end-consumer interacts with your product matters.

Knowing how to make a design eye-catching is essential.

Being able to interpret a brief as well as research information accurately is definitely vital.

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Jean Lin

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