Professor Yap was the first Professor of Design appointed into New Zealand’s academic fraternity. His work in the development of design curriculum, firstly at Massey University and then at AUT University has been pivotal to the long term growth and development of design as an economic force in this country.

Born in Malaysia, Professor Yap was trained as an industrial designer at Wellington Polytechnic and studied for his Master of Science at Loughborough University of Technology in the United Kingdom. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Massey University and is a chartered designer and a certified ergonomist.

After a period of full time design practice in visual communication design, advertising, interior design and product design, Professor Yap joined the Accident Compensation Commission as a designer and ergonomist to undertake product safety research and accident prevention.

Before joining the School of Art & Design at AUT University, Yap was inaugural Professor of Design at the College of Design, Fine Art and Music at Massey University. He was Director of Research, Director of Postgraduate Studies and Head of the Industrial Design Programme for 20 years. His research interests include human centred design, delivering emotional experience and value through art and design, product design and equipment, health care and medical equipment design, ergonomics and accident prevention.

“He continues to work tirelessly to advance design thinking and innovation in design education. ”

He has won a number of design awards, including a Feltex Design Award, and in 1991 he was a Sir Winston Churchill Fellow. Professor Yap was a member of the NZ Growth and Innovation (GIF) Design Industry Taskforce to advise the New Zealand Government on design strategy and policy.

Professor Tony Parker, Professor of Industrial Design at Massey University and a member of the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Council, said that Professor Yap had made an enormous contribution to design education in New Zealand, and to design in general.

“He continues to work tirelessly to advance design thinking and innovation in design education. Many of Leong’s students are now leading designers in design-led companies in New Zealand and internationally.”

Professor Parker said that Professor Yap’s involvement has seen him develop a (design in business) Masters programme at AUT University that is “developing the type of graduates that are capable of leading design businesses into the future.”

Desna Jury, Head of School of Art and Design at AUT University said that Professor Yap has been an award winning innovator and design leader and academic whose contribution to the design sector spanned 30 years of “exemplary activity”.