Wong Wai Lam
Industrial Designer, Woogle Works, 2009
Diploma in Product Design
I feel that the disabled deserve products that are well-designed. To me a good design should go beyond being functional and enrich life.
13 January 2009
Enriching Life for the Differently-Abled
Written by Sharina Ros Kamal
Helping the differently abled is a noble but usually unachieved dream for many, but for Wong Wai Lam, it is a dream that he makes a reality. With his company, Woogle Works, Wong strives to improve the lives of the differently abled community by designing inventions that will suit their needs. Sharina Ros Kamal has the story.
Wong Wai Lam’s life story in the world of product designing for the differently abled began when he, the eldest brother of three, realized that there was a lack of well-designed products for them in the market, and that they deserve better choices just like everyone else.
“I feel that the disabled deserve products that are well-designed. To me a good design should go beyond being functional and enrich life,” he said. With two of his other friends, Wai Lam co-founded Woogle Works in 2006 to design products that are user-friendly and yet aesthetically appealing at the same time, with a strong focus on designing for the disabled.
Being a graduate from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Wai Lam drives Woogle Works unconventionally, posting his designs on his blog and allowing comments for feedback and suggestions. This method has allowed him to improvise his designs to function and serve better purposes.
“We are only a step from prototyping, and if someone wants to start up or continue with our projects, we can provide the necessary technical data for manufacturing,” said Wai Lam. Currently, a design called Mouth Art Tool, a paintbrush used by the mouth is being developed into a prototype with collaboration with someone from the United States.
Wai Lam’s ambitions and plans for Woogle Works is truly driven by a sense of charity when one asks him about whether he is worried if someone would plagiarize his designs off his website. “I think it’s better for me to share rather than keep to myself,” he said.
Wai Lam, an anime devotee, has always known that designing was to be his niche. He attained a Diploma in Art and Design at another Malaysian educational institution, but it was at Limkokwing University where his love for product design bloomed.
I feel that the disabled deserve products that are well-designed. To me a good design should go beyond being functional and enrich life
For Wai Lam, Limkokwing University is an individual-driven institution that nurtures its students to look at everything with an open mind. He also adds that Limkokwing University is globally connected, as one can judge from its network of students who come from all across the continent.
In 1999, Wai Lam finally graduated from Limkokwing University with a Diploma in Product Design. During his time there, he managed to secure an award: the ITEX Gold Award for Innovation.
He then flew to Australia to continue his studies by taking up a Degree course in Industrial Design from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
When he is not designing for Woogle Works, Wai Lam is working full-time as a Senior Industrial Designer at IRIS, a local technology firm that developed the MyKAD and e-Passport. Although his mind is always focused on designing, Wai Lam knows when to give himself a break, and he reveals an impressive range of hobbies that reflect his free-spirited creativity.
Wai Lam is a cycling enthusiast and he owns two racing bikes, the Gary Fisher and Fastrax, besides owning a mountain bike, the Argon. A member of a local PK2 (Peloton 2000) cycling club, Wai Lam joined several cycling tours including a tour to the East Coast in 2005.
In the future, Wai Lam sees himself owning his own designing company with better products that reflect more on Malaysian culture. He would also love to make social changes and impacts especially on the environment.
I think it’s better for me to share rather than keep to myself
In fact, he is already gearing up towards his plan since some of his products are already implementing those elements. The ‘Pecha Kucha’ night for example, showcased Wai Lam’s designs where he shaped a normal mineral water drink in the form of the labu sayung, and another creation of his was a pair of stereo music headphones inspired by the long ear lobes of the Penans from Sarawak.
Designer day and night, Wai Lam will surely make waves in the designing arena. Find out more about Wai Lam and his designs for the differently abled at his blog. Who knows, you could give a pointer or two.