Feedback from first review

  • Why is it important to notice “noise” → benefits?
  • If this is a personal artistic problem, present it more toward your own motivations. Be bold and loud!
  • Sound or rhythm? Although related, they are also distinct. It’ll be good to focus. Scope needs to be tighter.
  • Why is it important to listen to what you’re leading us to listen to — the point?
  • What’s the message? Why should I be interested? 
  • What can sound do to elucidate a message, meaning or reasons to re-look, re-see and re-listen? Right now it’s unclear in terms of a criticality of what we should be listening to. Provide more focus to what you intend to comment on.
  • Perhaps consider why it’s important for us to listen to things we forget.


Literature to check out:

Rhythms of life: FYP first review

Below is a summary of my first review presentation on 16th Nov 2018.


Rhythm: a repeated pattern of movement or sound, usually used in the context of music.


Pythagoras believed that the motions of the planets along the celestial sphere created harmonious music.

FYP Motivations/context

I first stumbled upon the concept of imbued rhythms when I first returned to Singapore after going on exchange last semester (I was away for almost five months). When I returned, I felt unexpectedly disoriented, and I was suddenly hyper-aware of the quirks of Singapore after being away from them for a while. In particular, I was fixated on the sounds that we hear in public spaces, e.g. the koel bird, the karang guni man’s horn, the ez-link sensor and more. I was intrigued by the idea that these random sounds made by machines, humans, animals etc come together to form a soundscape, signifying a way of life, a culture. These everyday sounds are rarely appreciated, especially to Singaporeans who have grown used to them and are too pre-occupied with what’s in front of them (tasks, work etc) to notice.”

4’33” by John Cage

Unlike many of us today, renowned experimental composer John Cage saw beauty and music in natural environmental sounds. In his composition titled 4’33”, he wrote a score that didn’t contain any musical notes. The musicians walk on stage with a stopwatch and open this score, which contains 3 movements of silence. John Cage was trying to show that even when there are no instruments being played, music is still present.

“The sounds produced by the audience, like coughs, sighs, whispers, the wood of the floors expanding and contracting, creaking. Even the sound of our own heartbeats. The world is alive with musical expression. We are already immersed.” — Singer Meklit Hadero on John Cage’s work


Taking a cue from John Cage, we can look at the natural soundscape as a series of coexisting rhythms, each source of sound running on its own rhythm, but blending together to form a symphony of spatial rhythms.

Branches of rhythms

Looking beyond rhythms in a spatial context, I also discovered versions of rhythms that exist in other areas of life, namely, biological rhythms and universal rhythms.


Biological rhythms

Rhythms that take place within the human body. The way the heart opens and closes rhythmically, the pulsing of blood, the act of breathing, our blinking pattern. These natural acts go on throughout our day, often without us thinking about them, and they are the reason we’re still alive. These are also known as circadian rhythms, and the most basic circadian rhythm we live by daily is our sleep-wake cycle.

According to Alan Burdick, each of our cells can essentially tell the time; they have a 24-hour clock, which enables the cell to organize all the things it needs to do, just like you and I. 

When we disrupt the rhythms — irregular sleep, not eating regularly — our internal body clock is disrupted and can affect our physical and mental health.

Universal rhythms

David Alderdice is an ethnomusicologist from Colorado, and he is an advocate for using rhythms to aid us in daily life. In a TED talk that he conducted in 2015, he said that we are all intrinsically musical beings, because:

“We all live in this solar system, there’s these earthly rhythms that we all live by. The waxing and waning of the moon. The rising and setting of the Sun. High tides, low tides. Changing of the seasons, and many more.”


Every human, no matter which part of the world we’re located, abides by these rhythms and lives alongside them.


The lack of listening

With all these sounds and rhythms going on, why do we not pay attention to them?

Increasingly, it’s getting harder to listen and observe. The amount of screens we come into contact with every day distracts us from the real world (all of us are guilty of this to some extent). Social media, netflix, advertisements etc. These things not only distract us from observing and perceiving the world, but also results in less social interactions, which, according to self-determination theory, are essential for human flourishing.

There is a rise of digital dementia, a term used to describe how the overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities. People are remembering less and not exercising their brains as much because their smartphones record and remember things for them.

We may feel connected because we’re always on social media, the internet, but it comes with a trade-off — we’re less connected to the physical world.


American musician and writer, Jason Kahn, wrote that there is much beauty in the world to be missed by not being conscious of it. And by not being aware, we become apathetic and lose connections to ourselves and society in general.

Aims of project

With all that I’ve read and observed, I feel compelled to:


  1. highlight the rhythms that go on everyday, subtle pulses that make up our lives
  2. to get people to listen more, be more connected to the spaces they live in
  3. to propose that rhythms can be a metaphor for how to co-exist with one another
    • accepting differences, connections in the way that we find delight in syncopated rhythms, polyphonic textures

Target audience: Singaporeans aged 20 – 45, young professionals, the age group probably the most affected by fast-paced lifestyle, workforce, uni.

Case studies

Sonic Encounter by Zul Mahmod

Zul Mahmod (b. 1975) is one of Singapore’s leading sound artists. He has exhibited his works all over the world, including Japan, Moscow, Italy and Norway. From his websiteSonic Encounter (2008) presents the myriad of sounds that inhabit the spaces of Singapore, from various cultural practices to religious ceremonies, to our bustling life in general. In essence, it draws out the unique qualities of each culture and yet demonstrates their co-existence. 30 small speakers are housed in suspended white balls. The audience is invited to travel through the maze of suspended balls as sounds of Singapore engulf their journey.


Escape Velocity I by Zai Tang

From “Escape Velocity I comprises of a sound composition and a visual score. Field recordings were taken at Bukit Brown Cemetery, MacRitchie Reservoir, and the Rail Corridor, three areas of thriving biodiversity that are under threat by the needs of urban development. Sounds like bird songs and wildlife calls have been manipulated in order to prompt a form of reduced listening. The sound composition is recorded on a dubplate resting on a turntable to be played by the audience. With each play, the dubplate wears down, gradually degrading over the course of the exhibition.”


These sound artists have explored, manipulated and transformed the soundscape of Singapore, and they come from the same school of thought — that everyday sounds should be celebrated, and the ordinary can be beautiful, meaningful and are worth preserving.


Moving forward, I’d like to expand the idea of identifying rhythms in the three branches that I’ve identified. I’ll be exploring the mediums of experimental film and graphic notation to visualise and emphasize the sounds that I will collect. In the process of composing, it would be interesting to explore musical concepts like fugue, polyrhythms etc.


Visual inspiration


Oskar Fischinger – an optical poem (1938)
Walter Ruttman

Abstract animation in 1920s

Oskar Fischinger and Walter Ruttman were way before their time — they were already making abstract animations in the 1920s. The German animators created a new abstract film language that parallels and interacts with musical qualities such as harmony and dissonance, polyphony and timbre.

While abstract cinema did not receive much attention in the 1920s, it has definitely influenced today’s media and digital culture. This renewed attention occurs at a time where the histories of avant-garde animated cinema are being re-visited and examined, and is propelled by the developments in animation technology.

Earle Brown
Roman Haubenstock-Ramati – Alone I, 1974

Graphic Notation

Graphic notation (or graphic score) is the representation of music through the use of visual symbols outside the realm of traditional music notation. Seeing as how abstract the scores are, musicians are often encouraged to improvise and interpret the score as they see fit. Some of these scores can be read from different angles, and even upside down. Could result in musicians inventing new sounds or techniques.




“4’ 33″ | John Cage”. 2018. Exhibitions.Nypl.Org. Accessed November 14.

Alderdice, David. 2015. Rhythm And Shifting Our Perception | David Alderdice | Tedxpaonia. Video.

“Art And Music Collide In These 20 Stunning Graphic Scores”. 2018. Classic FM. Accessed November 14.

Gajewski, R. Robert. 2016. “Pitfalls Of E-Education: From Multimedia To Digital Dementia?”. Proceedings Of The 2016 Federated Conference On Computer Science And Information Systems 8 (2300-5963): 913–920. doi:10.15439/2016f356.

Hadero, Meklit. 2015. “Transcript Of “The Unexpected Beauty Of Everyday Sounds””. Ted.Com.

Haykal, Bani, and Joleen Loh. 2014. Sound: Latitudes And Attitudes. 1st ed. Singapore: Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

Kahn, Jason. 2016. In Place. 1st ed. Errant Bodies Press.

Keefer, Cindy, and Jaap Guldemond. 2013. Oskar Fischinger, 1900-1967: Experiments In Cinematic Abstraction. Amsterdam: EYE Filmmuseum.

Kushlev, Kostadin, Jason D.E. Proulx, and Elizabeth W. Dunn. 2017. “Digitally Connected, Socially Disconnected: The Effects Of Relying On Technology Rather Than Other People”. Computers In Human Behavior 76: 68-74. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.07.001.

Mahmod, Zul. 2018. “Sound Installation Zul Mahmod”. Zul Mahmod. Accessed November 14.

“Rhythm | Definition Of Rhythm In English By Oxford Dictionaries”. 2018. Oxford Dictionaries. Accessed November 14.

Russo, Matt. 2018. “Transcript Of “What Does The Universe Sound Like? A Musical Tour””. Ted.Com.

Tang, Zai. 2018. “Zai Tang – Installation”. Zaitang.Com. Accessed November 14.

Vergo, Peter. 2012. The Music Of Painting. London: Phaidon.

Worrall, Simon. 2017. “How Time Rules Your Body—And Your Social Life”. News.Nationalgeographic.Com.

The rhythms of life

Last week, I did a casual poll on Instagram, asking “What are the everyday sounds that make up Singapore?”.

A list of the answers:

  • Cars horning
  • Children screaming
  • Grass cutting
  • Deafening ring of the monotonous mrt pulling in to yew tee mrt, drowning my inner thoughts
  • Traffic light sound when just turn green man
  • My neighbour sneezing. I think he needs an allergy shot.
  • Ez-link card beep noises
  • Bus tap tap card
  • Lift “going up” sound
  • Mothers screaming at their children from the HDB across
  • Cars honking
  • The bus exhaling at the bus stop
  • Train doors closing jingle
  • Sound of teaspoon hitting the side of the coffee cup when the coffeeshop auntie makes kopi
  • Clanging at drinks stall
  • MRT beeping
  • Sound of spoon hitting against glass when uncles stir their kopi at the coffee shop
  • Malay weddings
  • Bird you hear in the morning. Or when you rush for deadlines at 3am
  • Wet market
  • Hawker centre
  • Morning drillings
  • People complaining
  • Sound of buses’ engine
  • Birds chirping nonstop
  • Train tracks
  • The sound of the mrt trains “doors closing. Dedededededede.”
  • Lizard sounds at night
  • Mum talking
  • Cooking sounds
  • Car reversing
  • Honking
  • Construction
  • Random uncle talking loudly on the train
  • Weird birds
  • Construction
  • That morning bird
  • The existential depressive groans of milennials
  • That noisy bird in the morning, you know which one
  • Aunties talking loudly on public transport
  • The sound of ez-link being tapped on buses
  • The stupid bird that goes “woooo-wu woooo-wu”
  • Karang guni man
  • School bell
  • Traffic
  • Neighbours opening their doors
  • Kids playing sepak takcraw
  • 6am got bird chirping
  • Karang guni man
  • Bell from the ice cream uncle
  • Karang guni horn
  • Construction noises, e.g. drilling, hammering. Something’s always being built.
  • School bell!
  • When you tap ezlink card
  • People saying “wah lao eh”
  • Defs the mynahs
  • Mynah birds
  • Aunties gossiping

It was interesting going through the responses and seeing many that I could relate to, as well as pointing out similar responses between strangers. It spurred me on to focus on sounds in a local context for FYP.

Our daily grumbles

Appreciating something intangible like the everyday sounds of Singapore isn’t really a typical Singaporean activity. We are known to be a largely pragmatic bunch, with daily grievances that hit us the moment we step outside our homes. Particularly, the country seems to be getting more and more crowded. Despite the government’s efforts to curb population growth (in 2018, population density stagnated for the first time in more than a decade), pushing through crowds still seems to be the norm.

“People may still feel it is equally dense or more dense because they may be spending a big part of their time in their workplace in the central business district (CBD) or industrial areas, which feel crowded,” said Dr Leong, noting how density may feel different depending on which area one is in – at home, at work or in other parts of the city.

“While the statistics may show stagnation or marginal drop, people don’t feel it on the ground, especially during peak hours, when crowds congregate in train stations or on the streets.”

Straits Times article titled ‘Dip in population density, but not in crowded feeling’


Our noisy city

With a crowded city-state, comes lots of noise. Singapore’s average outdoor sound level is comparable with hectic New York City.

A new study from the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that Singapore’s average outdoor sound level throughout the day is 69.4 decibels, which is equivalent to the noise made by a vacuum cleaner.

This exceeds the National Environmental Agency’s recommendation of no more than 67 decibels averaged over an hour, and is a whisker shy of the World Health Organisation threshold of 70 decibels a day.

Straits Times article titled ‘Living with Noise Pollution’

While we can’t control noise pollution on an individual level, we can change the way we think/feel about the sounds we hear. 


‘Rhythm and Shifting Our Perception’ by David Alderdice

Ethno-musicologist David Alderdice did a TEDx talk in Paonia, Colorado (USA), where he spoke about how rhythm can be an ally in our daily lives, and how it can be used as a mindfulness practice to get through obstacles in life.

He spoke about how people often come up to him, saying that they have no sense of rhythm. He begs to differ.

We are all musical beings. I mean we all live in this solar system, there’s these earthly rhythms that we all live by. The waxing and waning of the moon. The rising and setting of the Sun. High tides, low tides. Changing of the seasons, and many more.

He also touched on humans’ internal body pulses — an obvious example is our heartbeat. But there are also subtler rhythms like our lungs breathing air in and out, and our blinking pattern. Our daily activities also involve rhythm; actions like brushing our teeth, riding a bicycle, walking, hammering a nail and so on. Rhythms are what keep us going.

David then performed a polyrhythmic sequence (8:53). A polyrhythm is the “simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in a musical composition (e.g. two eighth notes against triplet eighths) ( He demonstrated how the sequence can be enjoyed as a whole, but if you listen closer, you might be able to realise that each instrument was played with differing pulses. He relates this back to life:

The more ways we can see something, the broader our understanding becomes. It’s pretty amazing to be able to really know a question or a problem from all angles, so we can fully get inside of that, understand the beauty within the problem and come up with a true full solution. We really need to see all the different angles, and not just the way that our preconceived notions are pointing us to.

What I’m pointing at here is an interdisciplinary mindfulness practice for seeing and feeling the ways to change our vantage point.

The big takeaway for me was seeing how a musical concept could be applied philosophically to life and how we choose to live it. I also feel that the idea of rhythms that exist internally in our bodies, as well as around the world we live in, is an apt point to hone in on.

4’33 by John Cage

The iconic work by American experimental composer John Cage showed that everyday sounds could be perceived as art. In 1952, in a music hall in New York, pianist David Tudor sat at the piano, seemingly prepared to perform a piece of music. For four minutes and thirty-three seconds, there was nothing but silence. Or was there?

Meklit Hadero


Singer Meklit Hadero discusses this in her TED talk, titled The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds.

Cage shows us that even when there are no strings being plucked by fingers or hands hammering piano keys, still there is music, still there is music, still there is music.

And what is this music? It was that sneeze in the back. It is the everyday soundscape that arises from the audience themselves: their coughs, their sighs, their rustles, their whispers, their sneezes, the room, the wood of the floors and the walls expanding and contracting, creaking and groaning with the heat and the cold, the pipes clanking and contributing. Even in the most silent environments, we still hear and feel the sound of our own heartbeats. The world is alive with musical expression. 

[…] on its own, the environment is musically generative. It is generous, it is fertile, we are already immersed.

[more research to come, on Stoicism, how Norwegians deal with winter blues by having a different vantage point, on graphic notation]


Artist References

Zul Mahmod’s work

Game Over by Gioacchino Petronicce

Graphical notation and composition by Candas Sisman


In light of the new research I’ve gathered, I’ve altered and improved on my goals for FYP.

Aims / Goals

–> to participate in a journey of being present in my surroundings (perhaps specifically in my neighbourhood… undecided). To identify rhythms that exist under my nose.

–> to broaden perspectives on the beauty of everyday sounds, to recognise rhythms as a part of our lives, and how this can help in mindfulness

–> display the concept of polyrhythms as a metaphor for viewing things from different vantage points


Proposed Methodology

An experimental film showcasing rhythms of everyday life, graphic notation displayed in the form of posters, book detailing my journey.


[to be updated]


illustration by Wu Yi Ting



the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.


The sounds we hear on a daily basis play an essential role in helping us get through the day. But for something so vital, this process of auditory cognition comes to us instinctively — it’s not something we had to be taught to do.

The following excerpt is from a book called Auditory Cognition and Human Performance: Research and Applications by Carryl L. Baldwin.


Being able to hear and understand sounds—auditory processing—greatly enriches our lives and enables us to accomplish many tasks essential to survival. Although we engage in this process continuously throughout our lives, many may fail to appreciate that the seemingly automatic task of auditory processing often involves considerable mental effort to accomplish.

In the book, Baldwin covers fascinating techniques that our brains and ears use to make sense of raw sounds for survival, and to inform our emotions, among many others. She also touches on how certain situations can compromise the mental resource requirements of auditory processing.

Aside from the underrated work our bodies put in, I am also drawn to the phenomenon of hearing a familiar sound or piece of music and instinctively reliving memories that, while ephemeral and fleeting, can also be vivid and emotional.

I’m interested in further investigating and highlighting the magic of auditory intuition.


  G O A L S  ( W I P )  

  • to highlight this automatic process of auditory cognition, something that is so intrinsically tied to us, but is also something we hardly think about
  • to condense and organise the information, creating something visually stimulating to present to an non-scientific audience
  • to inject a human touch to a scientifically dense topic


  L I M I T A T I O N S  /  C O N C E R N S  

  • As a design student, I don’t possess an great deal of knowledge on this topic. I would be relying on secondary research (and if possible, reaching out to people who are better equipped in the science or auditory realm than me). However, I’m hoping I can use my position as a tool to visualise and make sense of the information that’s out there.
  • I’m also thinking if I should incorporate personal interviews with people about their memories triggered by sound (in reference to my initial direction a few weeks ago). Still thinking where (and if) that would fit in.


  C A S E   S T U D I E S  

1. MAGMA | Magazine design by Cristóbal Riesco


2. SPACE: ART + SCIENCE by Anna Kuts


3. Staples by Kenya Hara

We need to think about what we have been eating all this time, the things that have been keeping us alive. We take staple foods for granted but they are also the starting point for human happiness and pride. When you are able to look at things as if for the first time, the world seems to shine and we get a new perspective.”

“… [this installation] is not an opinion or a statement, but rather the presentation of a quiet realisation. When something we know already appears unknown to us, that is the time when our knowledge can advance to the next level.”

— Kenya Hara


* Although the subject matter and desired outcomes are different, I’m inspired by his views towards the ordinary, and it is something I would like to apply to my project.


4. Slack: Communication Without Chaos


I’m inspired by their use of abstract geometric shapes to illustrate information.

digital dementia

Illustration by Jean Julienn


“Digital Dementia” is a term coined in 2012 by German neuroscientist, Manfred Spitzer. It refers to how the over-reliance of digital technology causes a deterioration of cognitive abilities, similar to people who have suffered concussions or mental problems. Spitzer proposes that short-term memory pathways will suffer from underuse if we overuse technology.

An example we can all relate to is the way we remember phone numbers — in the past, we were forced to remember strings of numbers by heart because we didn’t have our phones to do that for us. Nowadays, there’s no need for that. Other daily instances include the ease of instantly googling something you don’t know the answer to instead of thinking on the spot, and whipping out our phones to capture moments of our lives that are stored on our camera rolls, often never to be viewed again.

Human memory increasingly relies on the technology offered by our smartphones, and many of us can’t get through the day without our phones in tow — alarms, reminders, events, communication etc. With this shift in how our brains work, its effects will be widespread. As with many topics in psychology, there are more questions than answers on this ( But some studies have shown that constant photo taking adversely affects our ability to recall experiences, distracts us and takes us out of the moment. In contrast, other studies hint that cameras can enhance our memories of certain experiences.


In one study, participants who took photos of objects in

a museum remembered fewer objects and fewer details about these

objects (Henkel, 2014). Media use may further impair memory for the

features of an experience one does not record. For example, in a study

that allowed participants to freely take photographs, participants

showed enhanced visual memory but impaired auditory memory for

photographed events (Barasch et al., 2017). This research provides

converging support for our prediction that media use will impair

memory for experiences.

An excerpt from a journal article in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


In a recent study led by consumer psychologist Kristin Diehl, her team found that even though people who took photos remembered visual information better, they were more likely to forget the information they learned in their audio guide when quizzed about it later. In other words, retaining more of what you see may mean you retain less of what you hear: “Since our attention is limited, whatever you devote to visual you can’t devote to other senses,” Diehl explains. It’s not as great a trade-off as it seems. While we generally tend to place more value on our sense of sight than our sense of hearing, studies have shown that auditory processing is important for cognition — especially when it comes to learning and remembering the order and timing of information.


“… as vividly visual as our lives have become, perhaps we’re losing out on some of the things that are happening right in front of our ears.” — Jenny Chen, 

It’s too early to tell if there are definitively adverse effects that come from storing our lives on our phones and using it to record life events, but it definitely affects the way we remember things. With more and more calls for people to be more present and live in the moment, this is an issue worth touching on.



From a more personal standpoint, I’m fascinated by how listening to a sound (in the form of a song, soundbite etc) can stir up emotions instantaneously. Often times, the songs that hit me the hardest are the unexpected ones. A quick rummage through the memories stored in my brain brings up nostalgic sounds like:

  • the rumble of Maltesers chocolate in a box, an occasional treat from my older sister after swim class
  • the crackle of the PA system blaring the national anthem every morning for 10 years of my life
  • the joyful melodies signalling the imminent arrival of trains at subway stations in Japan.

These sounds might not have meant much in the moment, but in retrospect, hold so much meaning to me now. In a way, they are anchors for my ephemeral, fuzzy memories. Visual memory is often emphasized much more over audio memory.

Jason Kahn, an American musician and writer wrote:

there is also much beauty in the world to be missed by not being conscious of it. And beyond this, the cultivated lack of awareness characterises a growing apathy towards oneself and society in general. By falling out of touch with the world we also lose connection to ourselves.

I wish to explore the sounds that make up our lives and investigate the usefulness of these sounds in the fight against digital dementia.


Brainstorming research questions

Below are some possible research questions for my FYP (still in the works).

  • How can we use sounds to recollect memories and combat digital dementia?
  • Do the memories you keep define you as a person?
  • Can we improve audio memory by looking into the past?
  • Do we remember things from our childhood more vividly than our more recent years? (Due to influx of technology and cognitive offloading)



While I’m still finalising my research question, I’d like to conduct personal interviews with people about the sounds that make up their lives. I’m interested to see the kinds of relationships people have with sounds, and whether they remember (more than they realise) life events through sounds.

Some possible questions to start with:

  • What is the first sound you remember?
  • What song reminds you of a fond memory?
  • What does your room sound like?
  • What does your home sound like?
  • What is your favourite place in the world and what does it sound like? Why does it make you happy?
  • What is a sound you hate?
  • What sounds make you sad?


I could compile these stories into an experimental book format. Some initial ideas/themes:

> Leaning in to a manual way of recording memories as opposed to digital, the idea of journaling.

> A book contains a story, and our memories are what make up our life stories. (metaphors)

> Using folds, mismatched papers and sizes to represent our brains and how our memories are scattered, fragmented, randomised, ephemeral.


Research links:

Jean Jullien – Technology addiction

VC III Water Project: Candour Beauty

Candour: the quality of being open and honest; frankness.


I started this project after learning about Ama culture in Japan, a group of freediving grandmothers who have maintained sustainable practices for generations. They commented on the state of the environment, and how they can feel the effects first hand. I came to the realisation that we (Singaporeans) are not as in touch with nature as we used to be, and because of that, we are largely apathetic about the environmental impacts of the products we buy and use on a daily basis.

Often, people forget/don’t realise that by turning our backs on the environment, it will eventually come back to us. By continuing to purchase single-use plastic products, the toxins from the plastic enter the oceans and affect marine life, and will eventually enter our bodies through the food we eat or water we drink.

I wanted to encourage consumers to take control of their purchasing habits, ask questions about the products they use, and hold themselves accountable to the things they put in and on their bodies, and in the oceans.


  1. To create fuss-free ways for the public to be ethical consumers, living sustainably and responsibly
  2. To take steps towards making sustainability the norm


  1.   Raising awareness
    An illustrated brochure on ethical consumerism, being aware of what you buy,
    and why this matters to all of us
  2.   Providing an alternative
    Packaging design concept for DIY beauty product kits
  3.   Cementing the mindset
    A website that cultivates an online community for ethical consumers






Click here to view the digital version of the brochure.

This is a 7 page double-sided brochure introducing the importance of being an ethical consumer, and detailing some harmful ingredients found in commercial beauty products. The aim of this brochure is to break down the content into digestable, bite-sized information, using illustrations to retain readers’ interest. Learning about the truth of the personal care industry isn’t fun, but it is important to put in the effort to learn about these things and stop turning a blind eye to what’s going on. At the end of the brochure, the closing message reads:

“We are responsible for what we put into the oceans and
our bodies. there has never been a more crucial time to
revolutionise your beauty regime than now.”








After learning about the harmful ingredients that are present in many mass produced personal care products, consumers would be looking for an alternative. Candour Beauty advocates for DIY beauty — it is more cost-effective, much gentler on the environment, and fully customisable to suit your personal needs. Of course, making your own skincare and makeup takes more effort than popping by the drugstore and picking up a couple of products, but the benefits of DIY beauty far outweigh the effort needed. Plus, it also gives the mind a rest from the stresses of modern life and encourages us to make things with our hands.

For the busy beauty lover working full time, Candour Beauty has put together a series of DIY beauty kits that contain everything you would need to make your own skincare and makeup. DIY beauty is made easier with these all-in-one kits.

The DIY face scrub kit (pictured above) contains:

  • ingredients to make your own face scrub
  • sticker labels (to label the products you make)
  • Recipe suggestions
  • Return form (to repurchase ingredients or kits)
  • campaign stickers

The kit is plastic-free — it is wrapped in organic cotton with a handprinted pattern, inspired by the Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth used to transport clothes, food etc. The kit was designed to make it as easy as possible to make your own products. A card with recipe suggestions is included to help someone who might be new to the DIY beauty world. Additionally, a return form is also included in the kit, where customers can request for a repurchase of individual ingredients or consolidated kits.

The kit does not come with a container or bottle to store your handmade product, encouraging customers to repurpose a container that they might have lying around at home. However, amber glass jars would be sold separately on our website.





Click here to view the website.

The website serves as an online platform for people to find out more about ethical consumerism, and to purchase ingredients and kits. An online version of the informational brochure is also available on the site.

Some visuals from the site:



Concluding thoughts:

Working on the water project has made me realise just how connected we are, to each other and to the environment. As designers, we have the power and responsibility to be mindful that we’re not using resources wastefully and polluting the environment. Additionally, I hope this project helps to change mindsets like it has changed mine (or at least, opened my mind to thinking about how I can be a more ethical consumer). No one’s going to save the habitat we live in if we don’t do it ourselves.

improved banner + soul-sucking

Went ahead to add details to portray the soul-sucking theme. I also resized the motifs slightly (as per Ina’s advice) so they wouldn’t be overlapping each other too much. There are a few minor changes I intend to make to the individual motifs but this is what I have to test print today.



(as the semester drags on, i feel like my soul’s being sucked too… home stretch!)

Pattern: update on motifs and banner

Been a hot minute since I updated this space. Here’s a rundown of what’s changed.

Refined concept

Initially, my concept for the banner was to portray ghosts in a more human light, by incorporating human traits into ghosts from Asian mythology and folklore. But after working on it for a few weeks, I felt that the concept lacked depth. I decided to tweak the idea a little — to portray us humans as ghost-like, like our souls have been sucked out of us because of the destructive rat race mentality in modern life. (essentially it’s not a huge concept change, but I feel better about the idea now)

As for the style of the motifs, Ina and I agreed that the illustrations looked better without a black comic-like outline, so that’s what I went ahead with.



Originating from Malay and Indonesian folklore, a toyol is a mischevious child spirit invoked by a witch doctor from a dead human fetus. The toyol is often described to have green/gray skin, big red (alien-like) eyes, pointy ears and rows of sharp teeth.


The story of Oiwa originates from Japan. Oiwa was a young, beautiful woman whose husband had an affair with another woman. He poisoned his wife to get rid of her, resulting in her disfigured face. I drew Oiwa as a teenage school girl, impressionable and easily heartbroken.


Another ghost that is popular in Malay and Indonesian folklore is the pontianak. It is a female vampiric ghost who died due to childbirth. She is often depicted to have long black hair and pale skin. She is also associated with banana trees, where she resides in them during the day.

D I A O  S I  G U I

The Diao Si Gui comes from Chinese folklore, and is also known as the “hanged ghost”. He represents spirits of people who have committed suicide, hence the name. The Diao Si Gui has a long red tongue that hangs out of its mouth.

J I A N G  S H I

A Jiangshi is a reanimated corpse in Chinese mythology. He is often dressed in official garments from the Qing Dynasty, and in popular culture, depicted to have a paper talisman stuck to his forehead.



I have a few ideas on how to portray the idea of soul-sucking, but I’m still working on them. Here are some preliminary layouts for visualisation purposes.

  1.  Repetition: to show the idea of a factory line, pumping out soulless humans to keep society going.
  2. Soul sucker: showing how humans’ souls are being sucked away, leaving ghostly, empty bodies.
  3. Just experimenting with the motifs flowing in an upwards direction.


Will keep working on the layout for test print next week 🙂