KLDF 2023 Triumphantly Showcased Malaysia’s Creative Brilliance Under The Theme Sustainable–Intelligence

The Kuala Lumpur Design Festival (KLDF) is an annual event dedicated to celebrating Malaysia’s creative and cultural districts. In collaboration with key design associations and entities, KLDF aims to promote and empower design education for the public, businesses, and creatives in Malaysia. Going beyond conventional design events, the festival actively structures inclusive activities that inspire, educate, and to foster a sense of community among attendees. This year, the festival made a triumphant return from 6 October to 15 October, under the theme Sustainable–Intelligence. Presented by design collective organisation thnklb©, the festival became a local hub, bridging the gap between designers and the wider community which fostered an inclusive design ecosystem.

The festival was bolstered by the support of industry leaders including Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Malaysian Timber Board Industry (MTIB), Think City, Royal Selangor, Architects Association of Malaysia (PAM), Malaysian Industrial Design Association (PEREKA), Malaysian Graphic Design Association (wREGA), Tourism Malaysia, Yayasan Telekom Malaysia, and Telekom Museum. This year’s edition was held in multiple venues such as Rumah Tangsi, The Back Ground @ REXKL, The Godown Arts Centre, and Telekom Museum. Through these partnerships and venues, the festival aimed to kindle intellectual curiosity and stimulate creativity by orchestrating a dynamic programme that offered a deep appreciation toward design.

During KLDF’s opening night, an award ceremony was held for the Emerging Designer Programme (EDP), presented by The Green Factory. This initiative was devoted to supporting up-and-coming designers by providing industry mentor and a public platform to showcase their work. EDP had extended invitations to candidates from various design fields, including industrial design, interior design, graphic design, UI/UX design, fashion design, product design, urban design, and architecture. The team Constant/Variable, consisting of Ammar Haziq Bin Razali, Muhammad Aiman Bin Muhammad Ridzuan, Aliff Danial Bin Shamsul Akmal, Amirul Aiman Bin Mohd Ezam, and Izzat Hazim Bin Abdul Razak, was honoured during the ceremony for their groundbreaking efforts in design. Their distinctive vision for KLDF 2023 materialised in a built folly named Desires & Encounter, which is currently showcased at Rumah Tangsi for public viewing.

The highlights of this year’s KLDF involved a detailed exploration of sustainability and technology, each dissected through specific lenses. The examination included the impact of technology on daily rituals, an analysis on how technology influences spaces for creation and daily living, an investigation into the role of design in promoting positive behavioural changes, a delve into the essence of human-driven design and its relevance in a tech-driven world, and an examination of how technology affects cultural preservation and advancement. In accordance to these highlights, they’ve included conferences, asean design dialogues, roundtables, exhibitions, film screenings, installation art, physical and online workshops, open studios, online forum sessions, and micro trade fairs. Furthermore, the festival incorporated an element of contemporary art through its collaboration with CIMB Artober art & Soul––this convergence resulted in an art fair that took place at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC).

Co-founder and director of KLDF Muhamad Razif Nasruddin embarked on his journey in design after earning a Diploma in interior design from UiTM in 2002. Beginning his career as a junior interior designer at a Kuala Lumpur–based Singaporean architecture and interior design firm AVID Sdn Bhd, Nasruddin played a pivotal role in a four-member team project that earned the prestigious PAM Steel Architecture award in 2006. Nasruddin’s global perspective in design began to take shape in 2007 when he was selected to represent Malaysia at an international interior design workshop in Busan, Korea. He then initiated a design research blog called thinklab, marking the inception of a platform for critical conversations in the design realm. Subsequently, the desire to expand his design research led Nasruddin to establish a design organisation, now known as thnklb©. He, along with his design-related friends, organised over 30 programmes, conferences, workshops, and events. His contributions extended to international platforms as he became the speaker liaison for ICOGRADA Design Week in Sarawak in 2012, cultivating global connections with leaders in the international design community. One of Nasruddin’s significant participation was curating the work of Muhaimin Hasbollah who’s one of the most respectable master carvers in Malaysia. Upon returning from the Habitare design trade fair event in Finland, he partnered with Chief Executive Officer of Yahaya Ibrahim Holdings Group Shafique Badril to organise Kuala Lumpur Design Festival.

Co-founder of KLDF Shafique Badril distinguished himself through his family lineage and formidable business acumen. As the grandnephew of the late Mr Ahmad Ibrahim, a member of the First Cabinet of Singapore handpicked by former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew as the Minister of Health, Labour, and Assistant Secretary-General of the People’s Action Party Central Executive Committee, Badril’s family pedigree has provided him with a robust network within strong government establishments. Badril’s journey began when his family migrated to London, initiating his education in the USA across multiple states. Adapting to the challenges of constant relocation, Badril developed a keen interest in education and literature, mirroring the pursuits of his grandfather Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Haji Yahaya Ibrahim. Upon completing his tertiary education, Shafique returned to Malaysia and joined Yahaya Ibrahim Educational Services Sdn Bhd, a company founded by his grandfather. This background, coupled with his extensive experience, has made Badril an intergral part of the esteemed upper echelons of Malaysian and Singaporean society, standing among successful business magnates and dominant figures. Collboratively, both Nasruddin and Badril pooled their expertise and vision together for this year’s KLDF success.

The curation team also played a fundamental role in shaping and presenting the multifarious facets of the festival. Heading the programme was Danial Ismail who conducted a kinetic and engaging lineup of events. Shamin Sharum took charge as the exhibition curator, expertly curating spaces that showcased a panorama of creative interpretations. Gary Yeow’s role as the installation curator brought a visually compelling dimension to the festival’s venues. Film curator Zulamran Hilmi curated a selection of thought-provoking films which added a cinematic touch to the festival along with music curator Jon Teo who crafted a melodic backdrop. Finally, trade and experiential pavilion curator Aida Azwar added excitement to the festival by building an interactive and tactile space that brought together different elements of design and trade.

Each and everyone in the team truly deserves an applause as they worked together tirelessly for days and months to create an all-encompassing and integrated experience for all KLDF attendees.

Kuala Lumpur Design Festival

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