Week 8: Reading Response

Reading Response to CH 1 from Kim Goodwin, Designing for the Digital Age

(What an interesting read!)

In response to the reading assignment, the beginning of the chapter introduces us to the definition of design by its author. Then again, the author clarifies that the word has such a broad meaning that people within the industry or not mostly has their own justification of what design is.

I appreciate how the author brings up the importance of visualising concrete solutions as the essence of design. Personally, I have thought of this question and often remind myself of how communication is extremely important for designers.

When we sell an idea to our clients or audience, we are selling something to intangible such as an idea. To communicate clearly what is on our mind is sometimes very challenging. Often enough, I find myself in the state of thought where I simply want to “copy and paste” what is on my mind onto a piece of paper and pitch it.

As a product design student, I have the difficulty of sketching like a professional designer and I constantly find ways of practicing and improvising on this important skill set. However, we have come to a digital age where it is also important to seek other digital skills which could possibly replace your weaknesses in the non-digital context.

That being said, through exploration of different mediums, I find myself excelling at the understanding of digital softwares such as modelling through Computer Aided Design softwares (CAD). As such when I pitch my ideas, I tend to illustrate it through the digital platform rather than through pen and paper.

As such, I feel that every designer ought to seek their own channel and language which best speaks for them.

Also, it is an extremely important point that the author brought up about experience design. That no one design could fulfil every individual needs. For we each come from a different background, with a unique story to tell.

As designers, we could harvest our individual stories and implement these into our designs. Keeping in mind that if we face this problem, someone else might have been through it too. Which is why products always has a beta testing phase where people are invited to test out the prototype and feedback would then be considered for future improvements.

Question 1: Would digital skills have the potential to (entirely) take over hands on skills?

Question 2: Does all good design always have a  story behind it? (as to why the designer did something a particular way)

Week 7: Reading Response & Assignment

Discussion Review, Response, Dairy Of Behaviour

Part 1: Review “Interactive Environments & Experience Designs” in-class discussion

The Facial Weaponisation Suite by Zach Blas was an interesting piece for study. The masks seeks how various gender, race, and sexual orientation are progressively being interpreted and influenced by science and technology.

Blas questions at the idea of a global face culture, whereby biometrics and facial detection technologies drives the ever need to know, capture, calculate, categorize, and standardize human faces. The mask generated using several facial features of queer men is a contradictory tool to bring awareness towards this issue. Where the mask hides and exposes identities at the same time. The label given to those men when the audience sees it, and the inability to identify the unique being removes their identity at the same time.

This brings up an important technology which we have sometimes come to ignore, for facial recognition is no longer an inaccessible and far fetched idea. The increasingly popular use is on platforms such as Facebook, where the platform identifies faces in your uploaded photos and prompt you to tag your friends. Such data seems so harmless but it could possibly be used in many dangerous instances. Identities could be stolen, or such data could be used inappropriately as it is freely up for grabs through the interconnected web.

However, it is something which I personally feel that we have to accept for we cannot possibly isolate ourselves from the world for such minor setbacks in technology.

With our phones becoming increasingly smarter, the newer smartphones even have payment details stored in them. An example would be the ApplePay. I am a supporter for this system as I could simply bring one phone around and do everything with it.

In the past, when I leave the house with everything I need, I often end up carrying a heavy and huge bag. Now, I simply carry my phone with credit cards, contacts, camera, internet all stored in this compact device. It often scares me how my identity could somewhat be stolen if I lost my phone to someone. Would the pickpocket use my credit cards in place of me? I guess it is another situation of give and take. Companies such as Apple have implemented security measures and yet there are tons of hackers out there which try to break these implementations.

Question is, are we prepared to move backwards to our daily routines of carrying around huge amount of physical items or could we look past this flaw in technology?How much could we evade technology advancement and yet keep up with society?

Part 2: Reading Response & 2 Good Products

In this week’s readings, I agree with Löwgren and Stolterman’s that every material has its unique qualities which through better understanding we could apply them better through design. I have previously read up on books which discuss about harvesting the inherent qualities of materials which then produces an effortless design.

In this case of digital technologies, it could be classified as a material without qualities. The constant breakthrough of technologies pulls us away from setting boundaries for this medium and this then becomes an open ended quality which designers could harvest.

Löwgren and Stolterman later questions the reader’s thoughts towards a good design. That this definition cannot be derived simply through a few words or ideas. Not only the thoughtful process has to be put into place, but also the product design never ends.

I do agree that design never ends at any phase. Even upon launching the first iPhone 3G, Apple constantly pushed their boundaries and strike for a better product the next time. Imagine if Apple had the idea of living with the satisfaction of the first iPhone and seeking for a better option, would they be as successful as they are today?

On the other hand, the reading led me to think that if designers are constantly improving on their designs. Would that result in a more picky consumer group?

In conclusion, I have derived form this reading that the thoughtful designs are ones that are so effortlessly placed at the right time and location, for the right use and user. Whereby we often overlook because it is already part of our routine to follow the guide of the designer’s product. With the familiar quote for product designers, I want to bring the point of form follows function but then again sometimes, function follows form”. All in view of a better experience in design.

Question 1: Will a good design ever be a completely good design? Is there an entirely perfect design?

Question 2:  Are consumers high demands for better design created by designer’s constant improvements?

Product 1: GrabTaxi
A good design I found was the idea of Grab. This idea harvests on the inability of official cab companies to fulfil the demand of passengers. In Singapore, the industry of hiring cabs were previously dominated by ComfortDelGro and SMRT. There were many complaints of how demand was not met during peak period and that fare prices kept increasing.

The reason why Grab and other similar companies have been so successful in Singapore is because the idea of Grab covers many problems. One of the product which I am certainly most impressed with is GrabHitch. Where Hitch drivers are not official cab drivers. These people offer car pool services often at a fraction of the actual cab hiring prices, just to pay off their own fuel prices while not affecting much of their usual route to work. Both parties needs are fulfilled as first of all, the driver gets paid for going along their usual route by simply letting someone carpool with them, while the rider’s demand for a ride is met. Most importantly, it is even eco friendly to do so!

I feel that the product is extremely well thought through, for it provides incentives on both ends of this supply chain and solves the issue of unavailable cab rides during peak periods. For these drivers mainly pick up jobs before going to work and before heading home in the evening (both of which are busy and peak periods).

Product 2: iMac

I am a huge Apple fan and I love to observe how their company solves design issue subtly while maintaining a sleek design. One of which is the iMac, and I do own one at home. The idea of iMac is simple. A desktop and its monitor all packed into a slim design.

Prior to using an iMac, I have used Windows desktops and it is very space consuming and bulky in design. The iMac clears up my desk space, allowing me much more space freedom while working on the computer. As it is a single unit devices, wiring issues are reduced. Such as tangled wires, broken wires etc.

Again, I feel that it is a minimalist approach and a good design thought through for it solves many problems which consumers did not seem to have realise prior to the product launch.

Part 3: Dairy of Behaviour


Week 5: Reading Response

Reading Response

Seen and unseen: Ho Chi Minh City’s Sidewalk Life By Annette Kim

“In many cities, sidewalks are the most important and the most overlooked public space.” The sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) seem to be of a space where stories are told. It was where people come together, work, rest with no specific purpose tagged to its existence. However, this does not diminish its value where the process of urbanisation challenges the value of sidewalks. 

Though there are those who feel that sidewalk vending is an act of the past. Where the underdeveloped country justifies for such behaviour but now for the sake of progress Vietnam has to grow out of it. The development of HCMC has put in place rules and regulations for the improvement in the country’s environment. With such implementations, the thought of zero activities on sidewalks seem to suggest the lost of a cultural practice. No monetary figure could be placed on this historically rooted tradition which once lost cannot be recovered. 

The older HCMC used to be underdeveloped, forcing locals who are not educated to make a living out of sidewalk vending. Which today makes a living for roughly 30% of the population, providing low-cost foods, household goods, and services. The sidewalk vending seem to be inculcated as one of the unique necessities required in their daily lives. As a result, the execution of policies by the Vietnamese government to clear sidewalks of ‘unnecessary activities’ seem to remove the network between the locals as well. 

The community was built up based on the idea of relationship between unknown passerby with vendors or the people. Interactions between the unrelated creates chance for them to be acquainted. The simple smile and nod every morning becomes a habit which one look forward to everyday.

Singapore Cultural Context
In asia, relationships and networking plays a huge role amongst people and the community. The trust factor for neighbours are relatively high. This concept is well identified in Singapore as the Kampung Spirit. Also understood as a sense of social cohesion within a community where there is understanding and compromise among neighbours, even as preferences differ from household to household. The sense of an extended family even when someone is not blood-related to you.

People gathering to play Chinese Chess at the void deck.


The development of Vietnam seem to be like of Singapore in the past. The reduction of smaller individual villages for a better Singapore. The elimination of villages brought neighbourhoods today. All of which includes a void deck or common space on ground level for the locals to interact. Void decks are usually equipped with seatings and tables for residents to relive what we call the Kampung life (village life). Initiating connection between people in these common areas such as the void deck.

Kids gathering at the void deck for a game of soccer

Source: The World’s most recently posted photos of game and void – Flickr …

The void deck in Singapore seem to allow locals to look past each other’s age, race and religion. Which is also an interesting case study to follow, for the common space seemed to have allowed people to make connections with one another with no prejudgement.

Question One:
Will it be appropriate for Vietnam to implement the void deck concept (or something similar) to develop their local culture with a new concept?

Question Two:
With Vietnam developing to be a developed country, how would the country adapt and  accommodate to inflows of foreign talents and workers?



Week 4: (Field Trip) Assignment

Field Study: User Experience of Hawker Centers and Food Courtsuser-experience-in-design user-experience-in-design2 user-experience-in-design3 user-experience-in-design4 user-experience-in-design5 user-experience-in-design6 user-experience-in-design7 user-experience-in-design8 user-experience-in-design9







Week 2: Reading Response

Reading response: Hidden In Plain Sight

In this week’s readings, I felt that it was really intriguing to look at how culture is being observed in different context. The section on reading the signs really caught my interest as I agreed with it entirely. Many official signages are placed for the locals or people around it for they are most in contact with the area itself.

For example I have witnessed signages at MRT stations which says “Do Not Lean” and I believe it is a common habit for locals to lean against railings or walls which might have not been safe in certain scenarios. Personally, I do observe locals leaning unconsciously on objects while waiting in line, or just to relax.

It speaks a lot about the comfort level local have in the public. Whereby people behave in a relaxed manner even when there are on lookers. Sometimes, they might not even notice.

On the other hand, I am able to relate to this reading even more when I thought of the time I spent travelling in the states. I do see that some tourists hotspots are covered with major notice signages such as “Do not cross” or “Do not step” onto grassy areas for it might be common that people walk over these grass patches unknowingly for convenience rather than the designated pathway and create disastrous patches that are unsightly. In contradiction to what was mentioned before, these signages are then created for people who populate the area (tourist instead of locals). 

Week 1: Reading Response

Reading: CH 1, Donald A. Norman, The Design Of Everyday Things (1988)

Norman’s problem of having troubles with doors seem to familiar to me. I often push the door that is supposed to be pulled, or pull the door which is supposed to be pushed. Sometimes it is a little embarrassing when people around see it, but at the same time the passer-bys seem to be understanding of my situation as though they have been through it before.

Something that caught my attention when I was living in Chicago was the push pull door that they had. It was extremely well thought of as the ergonomics were considered within the door design. 
Image Source: http://blogs.evergreen.edu/brookewalsh/push-sign-on-a-pull-door/

The door shown in the photo above builds upon a simple theory of push and pull movement of the body. When you see the long bar, your body is inclined towards pushing the doors while when you see the handles, your hand teaches itself to pull the handle. I remember telling my friend how I wish Singapore had more of these doors!

The author brought up the importance of how products should speak for itself. For example, many cameras are designed with consideration of hand ergonomics and placement of the index finger on the “click” for capturing images. This is because the index finger is more intuitive in pressing buttons, and it would feel rather awkward to use other fingers to do so. As such products can sometimes teach us how to manage it without its instructional notes.

This is inline with the fact that there are two most important characteristics of good design. Discoverability and understanding. Where the good design of these door makes it easy to know what actions is to be performed on which side of the door.

Form follows function, a principle which is generally associated with industrial design in the 20th century. Which clearly illustrates the idea of how design could follow the functionality of the product for a better experience design.

Question 1: Do our habits morph according to products or does products designs change according to our usage routine?

Question 2: Without ergonomics, could a product design still be a good design? (aesthetics?)