RESPONSE: Chapter 5 Jan Chipchase, Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers.

Calibrating Your Cultural Compass 

This week readings discuss about the importance of understanding people from their daily life using the technique called rapid cultural calibration that would aid in the design research. The technique range from observing the city to travelling by their public transport to the airports, community hubs and signs in that place. All those would give us clues to the local culture and also being able to experience it ourselves will give us insight of what is beneath the surface.

Recalling my own personal experience a few years back, I was traveling in Melbourne, Australia where the subway broke down during the rush hours early in the morning. During that time, it was the first time I encounter break down in public transport (that time our MRT are still working perfectly fine). The locals act very different from us Singaporean. They look clam and just took alternative path to their destinations. That really surprise me, its so clam that I only realise the train breaks down when I reached the station. There were no chaotic situation or shows of unhappiness. In comparison, maybe we Singaporean are too used to the efficiency we used to have and took it for granted. Or maybe the train have broke down frequently in Melbourne that the commuters have used to travel by alternative route.  It is just like how we Singaporeans are less frustrated now during the break downs. Just my two cents. However, how we reacted to the situation definitely shows a lot about our culture. Like I have mention we live in a very efficient country whereas in Melbourne I feel they are more flexible in this way.

It is very interesting that Jan Chipchase mention that McDonald tailored it’s brand to so many country, from their decor to food menus. I have also seen the packaging indication for vegetarian food. As compare to Singapore, in New Zealand there are a lot more people who has allergies namely, peanuts, gluten and so on or other dietary requirements. The restaurants there are more careful and flexible about these requirements. In Singapore gluten free restaurants are very limited, however, there are more and more restaurants that provides gluten free, vegetarian or special dietary requirement options.


  1. Is there more companies either in Singapore or overseas sees the importance of understanding the user would help in designing their products? As this research would be costly for the company and I am thinking its a very new concept that might not be adopt in the markets especially in Singapore where companies are more conventional.
  2. I still not quite understand about Capturing the Platzgeist. From my understanding, it was capturing the environment whether is it sounds, images or colours would help to trigger our sensory memories? If we incorporate that into the product or installation will it helps leave a more impactful impression to the user? Is it because we will remember clearly how we feel or sense then the content itself?

Author: Su Hwee Lim

I am a picky vegetarian who is a left hander. A Minority in minority.

One thought on “RESPONSE: Chapter 5 Jan Chipchase, Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers.”

  1. Interesting observation about the differences in cultural behavior between SG and Melbourne Hwee. What other things did you observe?

    Capturing the “platzgeist” is about observing and “getting” the sensibility of a place…its specificities that are expressed through different means…culturally, through sounds, and arrays of senses.  Being aware of these and incorporating into a product depends very much on the product, does it not?

Leave a Reply