By Kuah Guan Oo
SERDANG, 15 March (UPM) – When a design produced at random turns out to be an excellent piece, the designer or creator would have an uphill task to re-create it, more so if there is a need to re-produce the design in large quantities for the market.
To remove this random element or “design by chance” in the industry, a Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has come out with a systematic process to create design works that can be re-produced in any quantity for industrial use such as tiles, 3-D lamp shades, 3D multi-functional lamp posts and furnitures.
Inspired by the living trees whose nature (flowers) are the sources of his designs, Dr. Zulkifli Muslim, a lecturer cum researcher at the Faculty of Design and Architecture of UPM, has patented his works.
He is now looking to commercialize his decorative tiles design based on tropical plant images that were created through his “The Living Tree Concept”: Design Transformation based on Tropical Plant.
This innovation which emphasizes the significance of systematic design process and idea transformation in the development of design and its simplification, has won him a Gold Medal Award at the Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) 2013 where he also bagged two special awards – one (Best Award) from the Japan Intellectual Property Association and the other Best Design Award, from Malaysian International Design, for his innovation and invention.
He has also developed a measurement system for design transformation flow process analysis.
He told a media briefing here on 12th March 2013 that he has patented his system process and about 10 designs.
But any user of his “Living Tree” design concept can virtually create thousands of different designs, similar to the process of adding branches to a tree.
“The important thing is that the designs and living tree transformation concept are functional,” he said.
Dr. Zulkifli, who is a specialist in design transformation and innovation process, symbol system and communication design, said his innovation is most suitable for the fabrication industry.
While the designs and process patented are ready to be rolled out by the industry, his potential customers are local authorities, local and international designers, landscape architects, engineers, town planners, manufacturers, interior design consultants, developers and so on.
Image and identity
A cursory look at Dr Zulkifli’s designs seem to convey an Islamic or Oriental feel about the motif, akin to the stylised hibiscus, betel leaves and other symbols found in traditional Malay wood carvings.
But when used in tiles for walls, floors or windows in homes, offices or mosques, these designs should be very attractive and unique, if not out-standing.
Dr. Zulkifli said designs derived from the “living tree transformation process” need not look Islamic or Oriental for it is up to the designer or creator to decide on the designs. What is important is the proccesses that can be duplicated in any quantity for commercial applications.
“The final outcomes depend on the designer or creator and they need not look Islamic or Oriental, “he said.
He also said that he is now widening the scope on the applications of his living tree transformation concept from 2 dimensions (2D) to three dimensions (3D) like lamp shades and posts, chairs, domes, decorative mihrab and minbar and even buildings.
To get international involvement to further develop his innovation, Dr Zulkifli said he is getting his fellow researchers in 30 Islamic and 4 non-Islamic countries to join him with high quality works and collections that could contribute to the research.
Among the Islamic countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Brunei, Sri Lanka, South Africa, United Kingdom, India and Spain. – UPM
Dr Zulkifli Muslim can be contacted at
Tel: +603 8946 4066
Mobile: +6012 317 9931
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan