Monthly Archives: August 2019

DR2008_02_Assignment: Navigating without GPS

Do a simple exercise over the next week:  without using GPS for your device to navigate, find your way to some place new.  How do you do it and what happens along the way?

Create a “counter-map” or alternative map of your experience.

When I first came to Singapore in 2011, I stayed for 2 months in a dorm named Parry Hall before it ceased its operation. For the address, Parry Hall is located at 30 Parry Ave, Singapore 547258 (taken from the internet) and it also said that it is permanently closed. It has been years and I could only remember that it is located at residential houses and the nearest MRT station is Kovan. In the past, we took bus to go to school and return by public transport. I used to get lost if not walking back with the others. The residential area felt like a maze and when the assignment was mentioned, I would like to try to return to Parry Hall from Kovan without GPS for the experience. I want to know if I could still remember the way back after almost 8 years.

So… this is my experience trying to find my way back to Parry Hall from Kovan MRT station!

Overall, it is a very interesting experience! I found out how the sense of familiarity is something that one can still feel even after years. And that my memory is not that bad also! 😀

DR2008_02_Reading: Seen and unseen: Ho Chi Minh City’s sidewalk life

Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City (2015) by Annette Kim , Chapter 1: Seen and unseen: Ho Chi Minh City’s sidewalk life
Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City

The reading talks about a very interesting issue of sidewalk of Ho Chi Minh City. Comparing to the past, new paradigm seems to be that people on the sidewalk need to keep moving. This occurs with policy documents rationales about modernity, efficient and safe transportation, improved public health and food safety, and attracting international tourism in order to be a modern, world-class city. It was also mentioned that sidewalks are particularly important for economy due to the presence of sidewalk vending. It is  even said that in many cities the main public space is the street and when people stopped walking in the street, the sidewalk.

Therefore, it’s been questioned on how sidewalks serve its function as public space with all its existing problems. Yet, at the same time the solution proposed often homogenous which often end up demolishing what is valuable and unique to each city. Sidewalks has been the communicator of tale of human condition, it does not impact the city only in physical space but also social space. In response to that, urban planning require understanding of the design problem that also pre-suppose a heterogeneous public that can be done by going out to the site and interviewing and observing people. Therefore, since the meaning and use of space is not necessarily revealed in the built form itself, the  roles and rules about those spaces need to be observed as well. It includes system of claims to sidewalk space: the parties involved, the terms of use, under what conditions, enforcement institutions, etc. which depend upon factors such as history, culture, demographics, etc.

Sidewalks as public space where public space is often initially thought of as a commons, where there is open access to a space. However, because of land’s physical boundedness, there is a limit to how many people can enjoy the space at any given time where at a certain point, the value of the space declines with overuse. This returns us to the discussion about the advantages and disadvantages between local discretion and standardization. It is about physical environment created by these regimes in terms of functionality and livability for the broader public, both the social and physical dimensions of their sidewalk practices, how they are socially negotiated, and the city they construct.

This reading has actually remind me of my hometown where it is very common for vending to be on the sidewalks. I grew up spending money and time on those stalls and I honestly feel safe there, not only because of the relatively cheap stuff but also the friendliness of the vendors. It has been a part of my childhood memory and imagining the culture might be gone in the future has actually saddened me. I personally believe that such activities plays important role in shaping the culture of a city, thus its existence  need to be supported rather than opposed, even for the sake of economic development. I wouldn’t want to imagine the future time when I could only tell stories about what used to exist without being able to visit them in person anymore. I feel that, to lose a culture is part of losing a part of everyone who has memory about it as well.

[1] Kim, Annette Miae. Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

DR2008_02_Presentation: ADM Map

Presentation: ADM Map
Group: Ling Ern, Natasya, Nebin
Date: 22 August 2019 (Week 2)
Slides: PDF or Google Slides

Insights & Reflections: I realised that there are many inefficiency in ADM building design and it’s non-intuitive especially for visitors. Grouping the users, we also learnt to analyse from different point of views and scenario contexts. Moreover, with the sometimes-not-ordered room number, the presence of a functional map will be a great help.


DR2008_01_Assignment: Everyday Objects Analysis

Choose two objects that you use every day (you cannot pick mobile phones or laptop/computer) and analyze their design using the principles described in Chapter 1 of The Design of Everyday Things. Imagine describing what the object is and what it’s designed to do to someone who has never seen it before. Is it intuitive or frustrating?

The two objects I’ve chosen are body wash and shampoo. In general, both are bottle yet both have different basic operation on how it works to dispense its content.

Body Wash: Dove Shea Butter & Vanilla Shower Foam

Dove Shea Butter & Warm Vanilla Shower Foam (500 ml)

The body wash bottle has a tear drop shape that is quite big in volume and dimension. It has difference affordances like it can afford to be opened, refilled and lifted. With the cap covering the top, it can afford to be opened. With the slim thickness of the bottle, it can afford to be lifted easily by one hand and turned around for the content to be poured out to the user’s other hand. Also, as the cap can be opened, the bottle afford to be refilled.

As for the signifiers, the yellow-gold colour at the cap (while the rest are white) as well as the small extrusion at the cap help to indicate that it can be opened by pulling it up. At the same time, the line between the bottle cap and body helps to indicate that they can be separated and that the bottle can be refilled.

Naturally, the position of the vertical hole at the top helps to direct that it needs to be flipped over to get the liquid out. Once it happens, the feedback will immediately happen as the body wash pours, there is no need to press the bottle sides as the hole size is already quite big.

For someone who has never seen it before, the design is quite intuitive and the concept is straight-forward for a bottle. I really feel that despite the big volume size, it can easily be lifted by one hand even by a relatively small hand of mine.

Shampoo: Dove Daily Shine Shampoo

Dove Daily Shine Shampoo (700 ml)

The shampoo has a round shape with a pump to dispense when pressed, it is bigger in volume compared to the body wash and big dimension (similar height). With its mechanism the shampoo bottle can afford to be pressed to dispense its content. It can also afford to be refilled. However, because of the diameter size of the bottle and heavy content, it cannot really afford to be lifted by one hand while showering (even if it is lifted, the other hand will be pressing the pump, hence the palm cannot really be free to hold the shampoo effectively).

For the signifier, the yellow-gold colour of the pump (while the rest are whit) is a different part that attracts attention, indicating it can be pressed. Also, the vertical lines along the bottle neck also indicate that it can be opened by twisting it in anti-clockwise direction if the user wants to refill the bottle.

Naturally, the shape of the end of the pump which is a horizontal hole also indicate that the shampoo will pour out at that side and thus there is no need to lift and turn the bottle around. Once pressed, the feedback will immediately happen as shampoo pours out, unless it is running out.

For someone who has never seen it before, the design is considered intuitive and direct for a bottle. It just, at the very first the pump will be locked and it might get confusing if the new user is not familiar with such concept to turn it anti-clockwise to unlock.


Analysing both bottles, I realise that despite their same function to store liquid and make it dispensable, their different design details lead to different concept of utilising it. While one is meant to be lifted and turned around to dispense, the other one is not meant to be lifted and only pressed the pump to dispense. If someone never know any such bottles before, the body wash bottle may be more intuitive for him as there is no additional ‘technology’ (the pump) required in the process and with the basic sense of gravity, he can instinctively turn it around to get the content out.

DR2008_01_Reading: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things Revised and Expanded Edition (2013) by Don Norman, Chapter 1: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things
The Design of Everyday Things Revised and Expanded Edition

After reading the first chapter about The Psychopathology of Everyday Things, my understanding as designer widened. I used to think that a good design is a design that is able to cater to the needs of its targeted market. However, after reading it I learnt that even when a product or service is specifically targeted at one type of user, throughout the process it will have interaction with different stakeholders and their point of view need to be considered as well. Take an example a chair for a toddler. I used to think that a designer should design with consideration of the child as the direct user in mind. Some examples are on how the material will be comfortable for the child, how the height will fit as the child grows up and how the finishing will be safe for the child. But after reflecting more, I am know thinking the parent’s point of view as well, such as how easy it is to assemble the chair and how convenient to store and take care for the chair’s durability.

I realise that designing an experience should not focus only on the end point but also the holistic experience of the product. And interestingly, there are many factors and elements that can be used to help in improving those experience. It’s such a complex thing that require the designer to prioritise the different needs of different users.

[1] Norman, Donald A. The Design of Everyday Things Revised and expanded edition. New York: Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2013.