A champion of Asian representation in design, Yu Yah-Leng puts a creative spin on her Foreign Policy Design Group projects


Yu Yah-Leng was schooled at the Art Institute of Boston before moving to New York City, where she operated a studio with her husband, Arthur Chin, for seven years. She returned to Singapore and founded the Foreign Policy Design Group with Chin in 2007.

The agency quickly made a name for itself by putting a creative spin on its projects, elevating local and cultural references. The practice has worked with clients such as the Sifang Art Museum in the Chinese city of Nanjing; and in Singapore, the former Gallery & Co museum store, F&B brands Park Bench Deli and Super Loco, and carpenters Roger&Sons. Foreign Policy Design Group’s services include architecture, interior and product design, interactive media and marketing consulting.

Yu does her part in encouraging budding Asian design talent, too. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, she and her husband launched the Design Diplomacy account (@designdiplomacy) on Instagram to provide a showcase for homebound Asian creatives to display their work to a global audience. Participants included Fictionist Studio from Malaysia and Indonesian outfit Thinking*Room.

In addition, Yu has sat on the advisory board of the Temasek Polytechnic School of Design, and spoken and judged at events and institutions around the world. In 2018, she was on the jury of D&AD in London and Kyoorius Creative Awards, a celebration of Indian design, as well as being an international jury member at Taiwan’s 2020 Golden Pin Design Award. Her works have been recognised by D&AD, TDC, ADC and AIGA, and various design platforms and publications. In 2019, she was also inducted into the Alliance Graphique Internationale, a global association of graphic-design professionals.

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Did you know?

The name of her studio, “Foreign Policy Design Group”, came to Yu Yah-Leng after she had dreamt about news typography one night and recalled the words “foreign policy” when she awoke. 

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