Nicholas Tay – Designing to be the best

Written by The Bug

Nicholas Tay is an International Student from Singapore who pursues his Bachelor of Industrial Design in the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He is the recipient of prestigious design awards from German, Italy and US, he is also the International Student Leadership Ambassador (ISLA) of City of Sydney. However, not many people would know he was a boy that had an inferiority complex because he had no faith in his future path and no university accepted him, a student that was bullied and isolated by his classmates because his over controlling parent educated their son in front of the other students instead of private talk at home.


As a young boy, Nicholas failed to have confidence in his ability and talent. Fortunately, one of his hobbies changed his life, optimistically and greatly: riding his bicycle. After understanding the weakness of bike was that it was small and hard to identify at night, Nicholas used the concept of headlights on a car and applied to a bicycle and it helped him to win Germany’s reputational creative Red Dot award, and this award completely changed his life. He received an attractive job offer from a big design company in South East Asia, however, by weighing the benefits of accepting that offer and continuing his higher education, Nicholas decided to pack his luggages and travel to Australia to study Industrial Design in UNSW, which he believed that the knowledge and skills he would get from this well-known university can trigger his career path in the future.


But having received the international design awards and studied in a prestigious university could not fulfill Nicholas’ ambition. He insisted that his abilities can contribute more to the society and he was correct when the City of Sydney was convinced by his initiation and talents and selected him to be an ambassador of International Student Leadership Ambassador (ISLA) program. Nicholas contributed greatly to the ISLA program by creating and managing an effective communication platform which assists the effectiveness and efficiency of the project implementation of Chinese Twilight Parade, Lord Mayor’s International Student Reception, Living in Harmony in Redfern, Sports Day in Youth Week and so on.


To fully prepared the Chinese Twilight Parade 2015, Nicholas spent 4 hours for making each umbrella which was used in this famous event.


The inspiration for Nicholas’s design ideas come from his observation and attention to surroundings. When he was in army, one of his friends told him that it was quite challenging to eject the electronic plug with one hand if the other hand is busy holding something else, a phone for example. Therefore, Nicholas created The GAN switch press to reject the plug easily with a button and this design got him the Italian A’ Design Award Winner in Idea Design Category, 2012 – 2013.


Furthermore, Nicholas had the idea to create the “Turtle Multi Sockets” which got him the award from USA. He came up with the idea when he visited the Lego Land in Malaysia. He questioned himself why all the plugs are white in color and why not to create a more interesting and attractive plug. This design was not only to bring color to people’s life but also to function as a charging adapter if the users journey to other countries which use a different charging head other than their home country.


It has been years since being a boy who was bullied by his classmates and disorientated in his life, Nicholas has transformed to be a confident, delightful person, who is aware that creativity and hard work can bring lights to each person’s life. Knowing that the manufacturers often would charge the users a higher price for any uniquely designed products, Nicholas believes that everyone deserves a higher quality life condition and he wants his designed products to equally distribute to the users at affordable prices.

By Krystal LY

If you have interests in joining these design competitions, Nicholas would like to share them with you:

Red Dot award:

A’Design Award and Competition:

ANNUAL Int’l Design Awards:

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