In Conversation with Sheryl Ang

In conversation with Sheryl Ang, National University of Singapore

BLOG · BY TTF FLEGT Communications Executive Lucy Bedry · 19 January 2021 

Sheryl Ang, designer of  ‘Tree Whisperer’ – centred around trees as living and breathing entities (like us) – talks through her design idea and wider sustainability inspirations.


As a designer at the Design Incubation Centre – a research centre incorporated in the National University of Singapore – Sheryl Ang is constantly on the lookout for design emergences and new territories where design can bring a useful contribution.

Sheryl is a incredibly positive, truly inspiring designer. Tree Whisperers is based on a study conducted in 2017, ‘The impact of climate change on the distribution of two threatened Dipterocarp trees’, through which an educational undertone is conveyed.

“Since climate change is becoming an especially relevant topic for the future of design, we thought it would be interesting to come together as designers to see how we can help to identify and materialise new conversations about this issue”.

Conversations about Climate Change will open virtually at the start of next month (February 2021).

The exhibition provides a platform to continue important climate conversations in the lead up to the postponed COP26 climate talks, while simultaneously raising awareness of the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

Bringing greater awareness of the FLEGT Action Plan to designers when specifying timber, Sheryl hopes that “by leading this movement (as designers), we may help to spearhead awareness of sustainably sourced wood among individual consumers”.

Tree Whisperers encourages a perspective of timber and wood beyond being a ‘dead material’ – to recognise the source of its origin and the environmental benefits of trees as “living breathing entities (like us)”. In addition, the design works to generate a conversation on how different trees may be organically affected by various climate factors as a result of increased climate change and a global rise in temperatures. More information on Tree Whisperers (here)

By gaining a greater knowledge of sustainable / responsible sourcing, the FLEGT Action Plan and the projected climate crisis, specifiers will be better placed to choose timber types that are more abundant, responsible and environmental – “designing in mind of the future“.

Sheryl describes her design as a “paradoxically light-hearted way of introducing people to the somber topic of tree deaths. In a sense, this might mirror our current complacency about the climate change crisis”. By creating a visual and interactive representation for one of the predicted impacts of climate change, the audience will be able to conceptualise this environmental issue in a more tangible manner.

In current society, relatively unaffected by the most severe impacts of climate change, it can be relatively simple for people to become disconnected – from the climate emergency as well as supply chains, material provenance and sustainability.

As Sheryl notes the challenges to draw awareness to these issues, Sheryl aspires her designs will create conversations into issues including material provenance, sustainability and climate change with her tangible, physical objects.

Keeping things positive always, she concludes that the current COVID-19 pandemic could help to “re-establish meaningful connections with the origin of goods and contribute to educating consumers on local treasures – from the people who produce objects to the nature that provides materials, allowing us to better value the goods we buy”.

Sheryl Ang and Yuka Nakayama 

Credits: Sheryl Ang

Tree Whisperers

Credits: Sheryl Ang