Design Evolution and Innovation for Tropical Liveable Cities: Towards A Circular Economy

Katja Fleischmann


Design has become an important driver of economic innovation and better living globally. This paper looks at the evolution of design within the innovation space and how it is applied in tropical Singapore, a global financial center, and Townsville, a regional city in Australia’s tropical northeast. The general question of whether regional Australian cities can adopt and adapt large scale innovative practices is examined in the context of driving change in the Circular Economy. The role of design has evolved from the popular understanding of creating products, driving consumption and being a decorative discipline; to driving social, public and economic change. Cities like Singapore have been on the policy forefront to push design-led innovation to facilitate start-ups, spark economic development, re-imagine its future, and on a human scale, harmonize with its tropical setting. Design Thinking and Service Design Thinking as strategies for innovation play a crucial part in driving a paradigm shift in economic thinking away from unsustainable levels of consumerism and towards a Circular Economy. The future challenge for designers working toward a Circular Economy will require new ways of approaching services, processes and products that are good for business and sustainable development. Through higher education, Townsville design students took innovative steps to improve the quality of life for the elderly on a small scale, which illustrates a capacity for design-led innovation on a regional level that reflects large scale Service Design in Singapore.


Design-led innovation; Circular Economy; human-centred design; Service Design Thinking; tropical cities

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