KDU University College Developing Entrepreneurial Designers To Respond To Real Needs

Khadija Binti Sheikh Fuad (from left) and Felicia She Suek Fern, both outstanding students in the Diploma in Entrepreneurial Design programme.  Student Khadija learning silk screening for Fashion Merchandise subject. 
Final year students unleashed their designing talents as well as making profit from their original work at the Designpreneur Faire.
Long gone are the days where successful designers can make waves just with creative talent alone. These days, skills beyond talent are also necessary in facing the fiercely competitive business world.  Looking at the Malaysian business landscape in recent years, the number of young entrepreneurs who are talented in design have increased tremendously. A crucial element for new product penetrating into existing market is none other than innovation and design-thinking. Therefore, designers with knowledge of markets and a sound grasp of business and finance are in great demand. 

KDU University College’s Diploma in Entrepreneurial Design was developed specifically to respond to the uprising need of even more creative entrepreneurs. This forward-thinking diploma, the first-of-its-kind in Malaysia, is offered by KDU’s School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA), and aims to develop and nurture young creative talents who are business-savvy and entrepreneurial.

“Entrepreneurship has become more significant throughout the contemporary design scene. Soon designers will no longer be able to succeed with creative talent alone; they need knowledge and skills of market, business, finance and technology. Entrepreneurial Design is a multidisciplinary programme that seeks to navigate every student to be a thinking designer, a resourceful problem solver and innovative entrepreneur,” stated Mr Loo Chong Hang, Deputy Head of SCCA.

“This programme cultivates a strong background of business with essential components of design concept, design skills and techniques. Upon graduation, we expect students to have their own start-up business and be highly skilled, to be job-ready candidates to join the creative industry,” he continued.

According to Loo, the Diploma in Entrepreneurial Design is best suited for those who are aesthetically-inclined, possess strong sense of design, love to be involved in creative-content creation, and have the natural ability to emote to current trends in design market. “It does not emphasise 100% on technical skills; students have to produce an out-of-the-box entrepreneurial solution,” Loo explained.   

There are three main areas that are crucial in developing an entrepreneurial designer – Design Skills and Techniques; Creative and Innovative Concept; Business Knowledge and Practice. Under these three main areas, students will go through modules such as Web Design, Mobile Apps Design, Photography, Exhibition Design, Fashion Merchandise, Packaging and Strategic Branding, Sustainable Design, Consumer Behaviour, Design and Business Management, Social Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Communication and Skills, Technology with Business, just to name a few.

“Other than the usual lecture and tutorial settings, students often experience a series of workshop, seminars, meetings and out-of-classroom learning with tutors, industry practitioners and real world entrepreneurs. In addition, a teaching body of academics, industry practitioners and professional artists will also guide the students’ learning, where students are constantly encouraged to stay up-to-date in both creativity and start-up models,” Loo further elaborated.

He said, as most students are able to identify their area of interest in the first year, they are often encouraged to take up ownership to apply for their internship placement with start-up companies. “Our internship coordinator also often look out for such opportunities and arranges meeting with students who are ready for internship. Students will be guided through the preparation of portfolio and during the internship application,” he explained.

Learning also goes beyond the classroom, as Entrepreneurial Design students at KDU are required to integrate what they have learnt with real-life applications through challenges and tasks given. Felicia She Suek Fern, a final year student, recalled what she had experienced during the Designpreneur Faire product showcase, held last November at the Designpreneur Lab in KDU’s Utropolis Glenmarie campus, “It was extremely challenging because this was a subject where final year students were required to exhibit whatever they have learned by establishing their own brand.”

“Before setting up our booths, my course mates and I had to design a floor plan, and planned out the theme and décor of the booths. Although the process itself was tedious, but it was very much worth it. I showcased my range of two-in-one accessories, which are handmade using polymer clay. Not only that, I also need to prepare business stationaries such as business cards, letterheads and so on,” Felicia continued. “In the end, it was a huge success because many visitors came and enjoyed our showcase, and we were able to sell our products!”

Khadija Binti Sheikh Fuad, a second year student, also shared her experiences in this programme. “As I wanted to get into the fashion industry, I thought I should broaden my horizon in every design aspect, hence why I enrolled myself into this programme.”

 “I came in with zero knowledge of designing, but I am now able to create visually-pleasing outcomes that are practical. This programme helped me tremendously, as I dream of opening a boutique with my own brand. It gives me concrete designing skills and entrepreneurial knowledge,” continued Khadija, who plans to sell her products online prior to opening a physical store.

She concluded, “Entrepreneurial Design not only teaches us specific design skills but educate us on how to do branding besides creating our product. I believe these three elements are vital to kick-start a business especially if you would like to start one on your own, in which case I do.” 

Both Felicia and Khadija expressed how they appreciate their dedicated lecturers and wish to master design skillfully from them, as Felicia mentioned, “I would like to thank my lecturer, Ms Regina Chin, who helped and guided me throughout the journey in the Designpreneur Faire. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge I have today to become a better designer.” And Khadija echoed, “With the help given by my lecturers, they have made my dream even more possible!”