PDIV – |9 Smellscaping

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng

In the last post, Heng Tong and I came up with sketches on what we envisioned our installations to be. Upon the sketches, we went on to visualize our concepts in 3D. We also looked into the choice of materials we would want to adopt for our project, memory foam.

Concept(a)- Frame

Ross Lovegrove – Sofa (Auctioned)

We were very inspired by the sofa designed by Ross Lovegrove as we find that it very much fits into the approach that our project is heading towards.

This installation allows students to congregate through the ambiguous form within the installation. The spaces inside will be made up of memory foam which would be infused with our base smell.

Concept (b) – membrane

We envisioned our next concept to be placed near a flat wall at Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre. We find that it would be the most feasible location as it is a walkway that is being utilised the most, and it is also near an open space, hence allowing our base smell to diffuse into the surrounding.

The membrane concept is derived from a concept in the previous post on allowing people to interact with our installation intuitively (playground tic-tac-toe) concept. Through this concept, people will touch the installation while walking past it as it has different textures and contours. 

The form is inspired from incorporating the three keywords that we have into the design; Dispersive, Porosity, Flow. 

To be continued…

PDIV -|8-2 Forming smell

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng

After the previous session with Ker Siang, we have set our minds on the direction we are heading towards, which was to collect smell through interaction instead of collecting a specific smell and then amplifying it through our installation.

We finally moved on to ideating and doing some sketches on how we can implement our ideas through forms. We had an important factor in mind that could make or break our installation, which was how we can invite people to approach and interact with our installations. Another factor was how people actually touch, we went on to observe people around us when they use their sense of touch on things.

Hand touching the window on a MRT door
Hand moving across a wall panel

Together with these observations, we moved on to sketching out different ideas.

Idea 1


We thought of the tic-tac-toe game which children play with at the playground where they spin cylinders to either X or O to play a game. Through this interaction, we felt that it was a ‘sure-way’ to invite people to actually spin them if it was an installation, and through these interactions, smells would be collected and overtime, a unique smell would be collected. 

Working on this idea of spinning a unit on an axis, we developed this to be a wall installation where people could interact with the installation as they walk, which makes it an interaction where they do not need to stop and spend time interacting with it. 

Another feature which we chanced upon was when people interact with the installation, these units are constantly changing and when light shines upon the installation, it would cast different shadows at anytime. 

However, there are still factors to consider about this idea. 
1) Size and shapes of units.
2) How does technology play a part? Or does it even need technology so that it does not complicate the installation?

Idea 2

Another idea was conceived when we watched the movie mentioned earlier, Mystery of the Sense. We came across these scene where particles were reaching the smell receptor. We were very inspired by the form and it relates back to our very initial idea of working with smell. 

The idea behind this was, for us human to smell these particles, it has to reach the smell receptor and then information would go directly to the brain. Through this installation, we are making NTU students the catalysts of this product, which means they are the ‘particles’ in that sense, to the giant smell receptor. Through interacting with the installation, smell would be collected overtime and would then create a unique smell. 

The structure could be made with a strong material, and sponges can make up the insides of it where people can interact with it.

Idea 3

The last idea was inspired by a cloud. We call it smell cloud. Through the form of a cloud, we can interpret it as something that is always present yet often neglected, just like the presence of smell. A possible way of implementing this could make use of the first 2 ideas, which is to use the spinning action to interact with the smell cloud, or to use a structure and have sponges filled in it to allow interaction to occur. 

We will have more ideas coming up..


PDIV – | 6-2 form of smell

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng

We have talked about the story behind our concept and what we would like to achieve in the end product for our project, we then went on to look at forms which suggests/ invites different modes of interaction with the artwork.

Previously Ker Siang suggested us to look at how air freshener bottles/ containers were designed, in such a way where it suggest olfactory element within the product.

Upon looking at them, we found that they do have a similar design language as to suggest olfactory element in the product.

One would be the organic form which resembles a flower(?) that they take on so as to convey the message of ‘fresh’ and nice smelling scents. This led us to ponder over the nature aspect of the brief, if we could introduce forms from certain plants/ flowers as an inspiration for the project.

Another design element some air fresheners have are holes as part of their design. This would easily communicate the idea that a product can give off a certain smell. Another practical reason for the holes is that without holes, particles would not be able to be dispersed into the air. We took this design element into our form consideration as we felt that without holes, there would not be exchange of particles and smell would not be effectively given off.

The last element of our observation is the colour selection. Air fresheners tend to utilize bright colours in their packaging as well as their actual olfactory product. We would say that the bright colours used are the colours that can be seen on plants and flowers, again suggesting the ‘fresh’ and nice smelling scents from nature.

 Moving on, we went to look at how we can encourage people to approach the installation and interact with it.

Having Verner Panton’s work, Visiona 2, we want to steer the form of our installation to be ambiguous, yet functional at the same time. Having said that, our installation will not dictate any functions, instead we will let the users who interact with our installation dictate its function. 

In order to allow the installation to ‘look’ ambiguous, we looked at structures which were made up of patterns. We thought that structural aesthetics will be able to maintain the installation’s ambiguity, and at the same time have space for people to interact with/ in it. 

Above images are what we envision the structure of our installation could be. These structures give space for us to incorporate our smell absorbent materials in them, due to maintenance and sustainability considerations.

We also looked at how we would want to encourage people to touch and interact with out installations. As sponges can come in different shapes and sizes (we will look into suppliers or factories if they provide custom-made services), having them to be part of the installation would stand out from the under utilized space. With irregular shapes, people would want to touch and have the tactile experience. We are also looking into how we can mask our smell-absorbents underneath a thin piece of material, so that it can give a different tactile experience and at the same time absorbing smell.

To be continued.. …

PDIV – | 5 Exercise Sponge

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng

In the last week, we were encouraged to try collecting smells with the use of materials, hence we carried out the experiment shortly after. We used the ‘magic sponge’ that was used for the very first class exercise.

We went around school to ‘plant’ sponges and see if they do actually collect smell.

Exercise Sponge

Trekking Route for Exercise Sponge

Objective: Collect various smells around NTU campus through sponge.

Duration: 12 Feb 1800hrs – 14 Feb 1000hrs (approx. 40hrs)
Material: ‘Magic’ Sponge
Weather: Humid, Sunny, sans-rain

1) ADM Smoking Area
2) ADM Water Fountain
3) ADM Verdant Turfed Roof aka rooftop
4) Canteen 2 Bus Stop
5) Sheltered Walkway, Opposite Blk 35F
6) Binjai Hall, Umbrella Shelter
7) Graduates’ Hall Bus stop
8) Fire Assembly Area, opposite Graduates’ Hall
9) Lamp Post along running track
10) North Spine Bus Stop
11) North Spine Fast Food Area
12) N.S3 Locker Area

Images of the locations where sponges were placed at:

*Click on images to view larger

Experiment Observations:

In that short 40-hour-span, sponges did collect different smells from the various locations they were placed in NTU. Different parts of the campus do have a distinct difference in smell. Even though some of the sponges collected distinct scents, we were not able to specify the specific scent.

1) Sponges could be wet prior to placement at various locations for possible better absorption of smell.
2) Duration of experiment can be prolonged further, for weather testing.

Possible site exploration:

1) ADM Verdant Turfed Roof under-utilized area, can be considered as an area for congregation, but may disrupt clean greenery feature of ADM.



2) Running Track, open space





To be continued…

PDIV- |3 smell



Heng Tong 


Hong Sheng

In the previous week we made two models; one with a fragrant scent and one with a foul smelling scent.

Diving more into the topic of ‘smell’, we went on to do more research.


‘Olfactory filaments that allows a cognitive response to the brain.’

Through our research and observations, we found that smell is an accompanying agent with other senses, and we human acclimatize to smell quickly due to sensory adaptation. Despite being one of the five main senses, smell tends to become a subset of the other senses.

Smell is also subjective, a pleasant scent might not be pleasant to others and vice versa. For example, to us, the foul smell which the Rafflesia gives off, is actually a pleasant smell to attract flies and beetles to pollinate.

We can use smell to identify a certain place or memory, like a prominent perfume scent when we step into A&F, an apparel label, or the smell of machinery when we are in the workshop.

As such, our aim is

To amplify scent as a defining element to a given space.

The first concept was derived from a sunflower, morphing it into a seat which can be shared by the public. 

By amplifying the a stalk of the pistils from a bougainvillea flower, this concept is a shelter where people can seek shade or avoid the rain. Similar to the first concept, this concept also gives off an inviting smell to attract people to approach this product.

The last concept, is an idea that was conceived by thinking in another perspective which is to create a smell, instead of a product which gives off a specific smell. This way, the product can possibly be a seat, where a possible material such as a carbon filter sponge which absorbs smell. This would then give the product a unique smell over time, which no other material can give. 


– Ideas tend to sway towards a more literal approach
-Concept 3 could be a direction worth diving into
– Possible to look at other materials or methods which can provide ‘smell’
– Smell is a difficult topic to approach due to its subjectivity, yet could be an interesting project to work on
– Look into materials which has natural fragrance or scent, avoid using man-made scents (air-freshener)
– Take into consideration the location where the product can be placed in NTU and how it can benefit the users who interacts with it.
– Have a story which gives the product its value and identity

Response – Kim Goodwin: Designing for the Digital Age

This chapter talks about how design is meant to serve human needs and goals. One of her quotes in the chapter: ” design is the craft of visualizing concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints.” This quote gave me a clearer picture as to how we should design.

Being a good designer does not just mean making our products aesthetically pleasing but going back to the basics and identifying the problems and try to solve them before diving straight into designing upon receiving the brief.

At Cooper, it is believed that the best way to successfully design a product is to focus on achieving goals, which is also Goal- Directed Design. Goal directed design consists of design principles, patterns, process and practices. As a starting point, I personally believe that we designers should sit down with a clear state of mind, and evaluate the problem and solve them before we start to design. This very start-off point, to me, would be the most important part of the whole design process as it would dictate the direction of the project. Without a clear vision of the problem and solution, the end product might not solve the problem which also means that the project will fail. We often tend to get too carried away while designing our product, forgetting what and who we are designing. Therefore I feel that having a good starting point for any design project is essential for us in order to solve any problems in our projects.

Another point to reflect on would be a different take on the design process which includes research, planning, modelling, together with various requirements and frameworks. I strongly agree to this design process in terms of the research part as I feel that during the research part, it is where we uncover many different problems, even some problems which come unexpected. It is also the research part where we are also able to identify specific problem(s) and from there on carrying on with the subsequent design processes.

Design is a very broad word. It goes from emotions to visuals. It is certainly important to identify specific problems and adopt the most suitable design process in order to successfully design a problem which truly fulfills the brief. Having good and adequate knowledge about the problems through prior research would also help to identify design requirements and needs. These small and minute details might not seem important, but they would certainly make a difference along the way in the whole design process.

Response: Thoughtful Interaction Design

This chapter discussed about the different challenges a designer face in the design process. One would be them being bounded by material qualities, tactile or digital. However, I feel that with the existence of such challenges, it should be a form of motivation for the designers to look at things in a wider perspective so that there would be a breakthrough in their design. Having a library of material characteristics is certainly a plus, but when it comes to working with more than one material, the real challenges come. The use/ combination of materials can make or break a product, in both aesthetics and user experience.

To me, good design is definitely not just being highly aesthetic but also considering a positive overall experience when using the product itself. That, to me will then be considered as a well-thought design. As designers, we have full control over how we want a product to work, technically as well as physically in terms of human-machine interaction. Hence, we should be constantly aware of what we are designing and always going back to the brief  whenever we are lost.

“The devil is in the details”

Speaking of thoughtful interaction design, I would wish to highlight one design detail which is very prominent in this digital age, yet people are still oblivious to its existence. That would be the indication on the earphone itself. I have often used the trial-and-error method to find out which is the left and right side of the earphone. However, in recent years, I was enlightened to the fact that there is usually a small indication on the right side of the earphone. This detail, is in fact I believe, designed for the visually-impaired to allow them to distinguish between the different sides. Upon discovering this minute neglected detail, I have since used the indication to confidently identify the right side of the earphone with a small dialogue in my mind: “Right, there’s the bump, this is for the right ear.” This is one thoughtful design which I feel that deserves more credit than it should.

Another thoughtful interaction design would be leaning towards a more cognitive design detail, which is the signal lever. Imagine lifting the lever upwards would signal left instead of right, it would totally be out of sync with the human anthropology (because it feels “correct” for us to steer right after completing the action of lifting up the lever and vice versa).

I am not sure of the exact reason why signal levers are designed in the way it is today but I do feel that if this interaction was designed to function the opposite way from today, we might be used to it and neglect the fact that it might feel weird.

Above are the two examples which I feel that are thoughtful interaction design and I feel that when one design is being “thoughtful”, they are usually the ones that are there when you need them, which often leads to being neglected of their value and taken granted of. On the other hand, such design, should be what we as designers should always strive for, incorporating thoughtful design details in our products so that these details can function unknowingly (to the user) when the need arises.


Diary Of Behaviour

Day 1 (Friday) :

Like everybody else in this digital age, I would use my phone every single day without fail, it has basically become part of my life.

In the morning, before I am awake, my phone would have already woken me up  put it to snooze. After which I would proceed to check my messages to see if there are any important messages that are important or require any immediate reply.

Throughout the day, as I am commuting on the train, I would play multiple mobile games with my earpiece plugged into both my ears to cut myself off from the mad rush hour. After games, I would then look into social media applications to catch myself up with the latest news and trends.

While I am at home, I tend to use more of my computer instead of my mobile phone as I could basically accomplish every task I can on phone, on my computer itself. I would say that I actually spend the most time on my mobile phone while I am not at home, commuting alone on public transport.

As addicted as I might sound, there are also times when I actually put away my phone after a period of heavy usage and I start to look around me in the train cabin. I would say, 4 out of 5 commuters actually have their heads bent down, swiping through endless feeds on social media, if not on mobile games or watching serial dramas.

Day 2 (Saturday):

It was not an easy day for me. I have lost all my rewards in most of my mobile games. It was the start of the weekend and I have to put away my phone entirely. It wasn’t easy for me, but it was certainly bearable for me as I have an outing which also means I can be easily distracted from using my phone.

After leaving house, I texted my friend to let him know that I am actually on the way to meet him already I kept my phone away and proceed to meet my friend. It felt uneasy for me not to reach my pocket to some regular swiping on my screen, but I got over it quite quickly.

And so I reached the destination where I am supposed to meet my friend. He was nowhere to be seen. So i panicked. Fear started to build up as I am worried that he might have notified me of sudden changes.

To distract myself from being worried and to resist the temptation to use my phone, I went to have a walk in the vicinity so that I could window-shop as well as to keep a lookout for him. Usually when the other party is late for the meeting, the first thing I would do would be to play games on my phone to kill off some time until we meet. Now that I am not on my phone, as I window-shopped, I found out that it was actually better to look at physical things as compared to the things I see on the digital screen, virtually.

Besides being more aware of real-world things, I also begin to feel and see that the takeover of technology is very serious. At least in Singapore. Even children in prams, are having a smartphone in their hands, and for some, tablets. Having said this, I find myself being more observant to my surroundings, such as happenings and people. Street performers, street displays, new architectural buildings can actually be way more interesting than anything else inside a smartphone.

After the outing, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and pulled out my phone from my pocket and loaded my games. However, I find that leaving out the phone in our daily lives could sound very difficult in today’s context, but I still feel that being offline digitally can sometimes, do us good too.


Response: Interactive Environment and Experience Design

Timothy Nohe’s presentation on Interactive Environment and Experience Design was unlike any other guest speakers’. It was interesting to listen to him share his experiences in his works and installations. His experiences also made me understand that to make an installation successful, you need more than just a designer, but a team of people from different fields of expertise.

Besides the usual slides that were presented, Timothy also brought along his interactive project to class and allowed us to interact with it. There was a mixer-like equipment connected to a screen and to activate the screen, it was through the means of connecting different jacks to different ports. Every different port connected, it will then produce a one-off pattern on the screen as well as to me, a very ‘sci-fi’ tone. I was very intrigued by the infinite possibilities one could have with this set up and I was actually very interested by the technicalities behind the project.

The project that he showed us in class made me know how advanced technology really is, similar to the Future World field trip. Another take away from his presentation was the minute factors that we tend to overlook when we work on our projects, such as weather-proofing our projects, maintenance issues, and also to ensure that our work does not fail under the heavy interaction from the public.

Trip To Future World @ ArtScience Museum

The trip to Future World by TeamLab at the ArtScience Museum was certainly enriching as it was my first time going for the exhibition. Upon entering the exhibition, I was greeted with an immersive experience through 4D projections and it was definitely eye-opening. I felt like I was being brought into another dimension with the combinations of light and sound.

Moving on to other exhibits, what fascinated me the most would be Sketch Town. TeamLab made use of several technologies which I was really interested in. There were paper with outlines of a car and a house printed on it and the public could use the crayons provided to express their creativity on it. Its just like childhood all over again for me. After which, we could actually scan our drawings and it will be brought in to the huge display of a town, almost in an instant.

Just when I thought that was the end of the experience of this section, I was told that I can use the same drawing I created, scan it, and it would be printed out as a cut-out template and be formed into a 3D model. From 2D to digital and to 3D, this process is to me, the freshest and the most interesting interaction I had in the exhibition.

This trip to the exhibition was an eye-opening experience for me, and through this experience, it would aid me in conceptualizing for the iLight project with a wider perspective as I am aware of the technologies that could actually be implemented into the project, such as incorporating sounds and converting intangible pieces to memorable souvenirs.