Fellowship fund by Nippon Paint provides higher education access for Asian students at Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Oct 22, 2019

SINGAPORE, 22 Oct 2019 --( ASIA TODAY )-- Nippon Paint, the world’s leading paint and coatings brand, today announced Safeer Shersad, a 24-year-old candidate studying at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) as the first recipient of the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund. The Fund was set up together with Harvard GSD to provide young Asian designers with financial assistance to attend the school’s programme.

Harvard GSD plays a leading role in the education of architects, landscape architects, and urban planners and designers. Nippon Paint believes in further empowering young Asian designers and aspiring architects to explore the built environment from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and points of view. Through the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, Nippon Paint aims to equip Asian design talents with the knowledge and skills to address challenges relating to Asia’s need for urbanisation solutions amidst its rapid population growth.

“Nippon Paint believes that young designers entering this professional field need to harness design to better people’s lives. At Harvard GSD, the emphasis on human-centered design will help students develop solutions by involving human perspectives in the problem-solving process,” said Mr Wee Siew Kim, CEO of NIPSEA Group. “This approach is extremely relevant in today’s world where there is great demand for design solutions to solve societal problems such as the loss of livelihood. Through the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, we hope to groom the next generation of designers to create socially-conscious designs for the community and create a positive impact in people’s lives.”

Safeer is currently undergoing the Master in Urban Planning degree programme with Harvard GSD. Safeer’s inspiration is his late father, a doctor who dedicated his life to healing others, had always emphasized the value of service, education and life-long learning. In an unfortunate turn, his sudden demise left the family in grief and emotional distress. Determined to uphold his father’s principles of uncompromising work ethic, Safeer worked on a tight schedule to complete his standardized tests and application requirements in just two weeks. This successful application successfully secured a candidacy for the masters program at the Harvard GSD. Through the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, Safeer was awarded US$20,000 to pursue his goals of providing inclusive urban design solutions to solve pressing global challenges at the local level.

“Safeer showed academic excellence, curiosity and potential in my first semester core studio, where he created a masterplan and participatory strategy for an industrial site in South Boston. He is now a teaching assistant for this studio, and effectively guides my students to build up their technical skills in research and representation. With an interest in design, strategic planning and transportation, Safeer is well positioned to take advantage of the multi-disciplinary curriculum and engagement offered at the GSD, and I am excited about his future,” said Toni L. Griffin, Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

“I am very grateful for the support from Nippon Paint and the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund. Harvard GSD’s studio pedagogy has given me the opportunity to work with real clients on pressing challenges facing the world today, such as creating inclusive participatory tools, ameliorating the impacts of climate change through renewable energy provision, and designing public housing for older adults and immigrant populations. It is truly a privilege to be part of a peer group that inspires me to collaborate on projects that address the needs of the communities that need it the most,” said Safeer Shersad. “I hope to continue this work of tackling global dilemmas and strains that face underprivileged communities through my academic and professional work.”

In addition to the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, Nippon Paint has also developed another global initiative known as the Asia Young Designer Awards (AYDA). It is a platform that allows young design talents to identify pressing world or community needs and propose design solutions to address these issues. Established in 2008, the AYDA has grown to become one of Asia’s premier design awards, and students in Asia get to receive hands-on learning opportunities from key industry players as well as fellow architecture and interior design peers in the region. To take part in the next instalment of AYDA, students can visit https://www.asiayoungdesignerawards.com/ to find out more and register for participation.


About The Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund

The Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund provides financial aid to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) students from Asian countries, helping to attract, enroll, and support talented design scholars from the region as they work to become leaders in transforming the social and built environment. Nippon Paint gifted $300,000 to establish The Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, including $50,000 for immediate use to benefit students at the Harvard GSD. The remainder of the gift is invested in the Harvard GSD’s endowment, leveraging these dollars for future support. The Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund represents Nippon Paint’s next step in investing in young design leaders, on top of the company’s commitment to nurture the next generation of talented designers, reflected in its design competition platform, Asia Young Designer Awards (AYDA).

About NIPSEA Management Co Pte Ltd (NIPSEA Group)

NIPSEA Group was founded by entrepreneur Mr. Goh Cheng Liang in Singapore in 1962. NIPSEA has established its position as one of the largest paint and coatings specialist in Asia, known in the marketplace by its brand as “Nippon Paint” and is responsible for expanding its operation and development of Nippon Paint in Asia. It has become the best coatings partner for architectural, automotive, industrial, marine, protective coatings, specialised clients and millions of families across the world. The brand is recognised for its dedication to quality, dazzling innovation and excellent customer service.

With more than 70 NIPSEA manufacturing facilities spread throughout Asia, NIPSEA understands the local needs of its customers in every community. The company embraces diversity and operates as a multinational corporation. NIPSEA Group has over 23,000 employees with 80 manufacturing facilities and operations in 17 geographical locations with its headquarters in Singapore, efficiently serving all aspects of the business, from production to customer satisfaction.

For more information about NIPSEA Group, please visit http://www.nipponpaint.com/.

About the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Founded in 1936, the Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) has roots dating back to 1874, when academic degree programs in architecture and landscape architecture emerged at the university. Harvard often is credited with founding the disciplines of landscape architecture and city planning prior to the establishment of the school and founding the discipline of urban design in the 1960s.

As the premier design school in the world, Harvard GSD has a legacy of leadership, innovation, and social responsibility. The school sets global standards for design education, regularly ranking number one in two of its core disciplines. GSD alumni and faculty are world renowned for creating the modern era's most iconic buildings, landscapes, and city plans, and the school is proud to have the highest number of Pritzker Prize winners and AIA Fellows of any design school.

Today, Harvard GSD continues to explore with authority urgent issues facing cities around the world, synthesizing research and practice in a collaborative, holistic approach that empowers the design community to have a significant impact on the built environment.

For more information about Harvard University Graduate School of Design, please visit www.gsd.harvard.edu

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Melodie Yap
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Email: melodieyap@nipsea.com.sg