in Final Project

VC III water project



  • Role & symbolism of water in the cultural narratives (folktales) of Asia
  • The lessons we didn’t learn from all these folktales / morals of the stories that we didn’t get
  • Water as commodity vs water as a sacred entity / life giving object  — animism
  • Main takeaway: in many, if not all cultures, water features as an animistic concept


  • Oldest known belief system, the belief that natural objects & the universe itself has a soul/spirit
  • Water as a supernatural life force, b/c all material phenomena have agency
  • Teaching us how to behave towards another being, even if they aren’t human —applying animism to the modern day context

    UN proposal for the rights of Mother Earth (2009)

    – President of Bolivia called on the general assembly to develop a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth – Meet human needs in a way that contributes to, rather than degrades the health of the ecological communities that sustain us.

  • Most current legal systems in place now only regulate rate of environmental damage
  • Current design practice trapped in consumerist cycles of innovation & production


I feel designers have the unique perspective and power of being both a consumer and also part of the creating/manufacturing process. However, in spite of this newfound sense of responsibility and commitment to the environment, I felt like I didn’t know much about sustainable design practices. As such, I embarked on a phase of intensive research to educate myself and form a direction for the project. Here are some of the findings:

  • Good design can advance the world economically, as well as shape society & popular culture
  • it can: 
    • Educate the public on social issues
    • Create tools for exchange of information
    • Improve financial growth of organisations
    • Inspire people to make a difference
    • Makes lives easier
  • Make more responsible decisions in choice of project outcomes, materials & vendors to work with — do less bad


  • Raise awareness of amount of waste produced by the design industry in Singapore
  • Educate and provide possible alternatives or solutions to curb waste while improving sustainability
  • Changing mindset of designers to think sustainability & also long-term
  • Frameworks for rethinking & assessing daily design activity


  • Lester brown (environmental analyst) said that humans already demand that the planet regenerates it’s natural resources by 30% more than what is possible
  • Carbon footprint of burning trash (especially in singapore)
  • Outrunning the carrying capacity of the planet
  • Moving beyond traditional calling & embodying a new set of universal principles that address the consequences of design — design decisions account for an average of 80% of the life cycle impacts of a product/service


  • Changing from FORM follows FUNCTION (utilitatian) to FORM follows MEANING (sustainable) —(prof stuart walker, TEDx talk)
  • What we can do to what we should do
  • Considering out actions in terms of human meaning

“There must be a shift in mindset away from only making beautiful & ecomically driven work to include a better understanding & a strategy to stop the negative impacts of design work on the planet”



  • Sociological, ecological & economic
  • People, planet & profit — has to be balanced for a truly sustainable & healthy world
  • When applied to design, helps designers assess how it impacts overall health of the world


  • Whole is more than the sum of it’s parts, or the unified whole
  • This essentially means that everything is interconnected on our planet
  • When applied to the design process, it entails approaching a design problem by being informed, aware of & influenced by the impacts that our material & vendor choices have
  • Sustainable design is more than material choice or a web hosting decision, it has to consider all the places where project decisions make an impact instead of focusing only on mitigating the negative environmental impacts —- it should also consider positive outcomes of the project & whether it outweighs the negative environmental impacts


  • Interwoven, interrelated design process — possibly have to revise & modify previous decisions based on discoveries made in later steps

1. Elements (people & resources)

2. Interconnections (relationships)

3. Goal/purpose

4. Tangible design outcome

    #1 Determine project goals

  • Purpose of projects
  • What it affects ( + how it affects)
  • Understanding the audience to know which method/medium is most effective

#2 map out design problem

  • Show how audiences are connected to/affected by each problem
  • User personas (to help with visualising the relationships between audience & design)

#3 Design outcomes

  • What needs to be created & why?
  • How does this improve the triple bottom line?
  • Possible outcomes of each design problem, which audiences would react best to which solution
  • Evaluate each possible project outcome
  • Examine impacts of each outcome, material choice, focusing on the triple bottom line


  • Helps quantify environmental & social impacts of design work
  • However, needs time, $$ and scientific partners
  • Long term vs. short term benefits


  • Post-consumer recycled goods
    • Tap into waste system & prevents waste from vending into landfills
    • Requires less energy to manufacture
    • Prevents deforestation (for new raw materials)
  • Vegetable-based ink
    • Use less ink or monotone ink (e.g. design thinner logos)
  • Environmentally certified products
  • Post-consumer waste paper
    • Creating paper from recycled/alternative fibres instead of virgin tree fibre
    • Paper made from agricultural residue us more sustainable than recycled tree fiber. However, have to consider manufacturing, shipping costs
  • Virgin paper
    • Paper companies logging forests/tree plantations without consent of locals
    • Homes destroyed by logging (e.g. Indonesia)
    • “Blood timber”
    • In general, using virgin materials has greater negative impacts on the environment than post-consumer waste
  • Vendors that use renewable energy, have trusted social & environmental certifications


  • Greenwashing —- misleading/false claims of environmental friendliness
  • Simply digitalising everything may not be the best option/too simplistic a view
    • Possibly not the most effective medium of communication
    • Server hosting the website might be unethical, use unrenewable sources of energy etc


  • Brands will not be able to opt out of [being green] … companies who do not live by a green protocol will be financially damaged because consumers will punish them


With this research in mind, here are some early variations of the logo. From my research, I found that many companies and organisations related to sustainability and environmental concerns use green in their logo and made a conscious decision to steer clear of this. In my initial concept, I envisioned a brand that was kistchy and handmade, reflected in the subsequent designs:

Final logo variations & colour palette

After feedback and discussion, I realised that a sleeker, more streamlined and corporate design approach might work better. This is keeping in mind that rippple (we’ll get to that later) aims to be a go-to resource for designers as well as companies looking to incorporate sustainability into their practice.

The name RIPPPLE also comes from the idea that small changes can make a great impact, that one should not be daunted by the idea of being one tiny droplet advocating for change in a sea of skeptics. The three p’s also stand for the triple bottom line (planet, people, profit) that is used as a guideline for sustainable thinking in design and business.


    the intention of this video is to capitalise on the trend of sharing videos on facebook to generate awareness, and create a link back to the rippple website. As such, the content of this deliverable revolves mostly around environmental facts and statistics and is intended to be the first of a web series. 

The intention behind the website is to be sleek and minimal, easy to navigate and search for useful information. It also aims to be collaborative in nature (hence the user-submitted online magazine and discussion platform), since I feel that sustainability in design practice is such a wide field, and also vary accordring to each individual’s experiences. It is also very subjective and although there are some general guidelines, there is ultimately no one size fits all option.


the last deliverable is a set of event posters with agencies that make sustainability a priority. Because the posters are for different events, they vary greatly in tone and visuals used. This was a bit of a problem initially, because they were too visually diverse and did not seem at all related (i.e. produced by one organisation, rippple). To remedy this, I used a common colour theme and typeface – Avenir – to create continuity.