PD-| 8-1 Announcing Smell

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng


As previously mentioned; despite being primitive, smell is subjective, personal and under developed in human beings.

The presence and absence of odor cannot be compromised, you either smell it or you don’t. Though the tolerance of the strength of smell is adapted through the cultural capital of the individual, one cannot reject smell (sans hyposmia and anosmia people).

We justified our main aim in utilizing sense of smell as an installation that is idealized to emit through dependence on the very people that interact with it.

More Research into Smell

We looked upon more research to give ourselves a better understanding into the uncharted territory of smell.


Mystery of the Sense [Smell]


The video listed above talks about smell in  pertinence to the human body. One interesting perspective from the video is the human race’s tendency to “shy away from the person’s scent (natural odor); yet creating odors to lure someone special (perfumes)”.

The video also explains the biological sequence of how smell is collected and triggered through the olfactory bulb within the system of a being.

Perhaps due to the date filmed (1995), many interpretations were rather biased, but the video still provided us necessary information of how the sense of smell can be described.





by Marcel van Brakel, Wander Eikelboom, Frederik Duerinck

(book is coated with a fragrance that lingers when you read the physical book)

SENSE OF SMELL is an international co-creation and research project. The ideas of smell is being interpreted more artistically and more emotionally.  

Through really artistic works, Smell is re-represented and re-interpreted in various artistic directions such as installations, artistic exhibitions and products.



Smell expert Sissel Tolaas breathes deep and then follows her nose in Melbourne


This article is shared to us by Ker Siang (thanks professor!). The article follows Sissel Tolaas who was behind controversial art experiences such as recreating the sick smells of World War I.

One particular quote that caught our attention by Sissel from the article is:

“Every nano-part of this planet emits a smell – there is no such thing as a ‘clear’ smell,” Tolaas says. But the world is full of false smells, which mask the true, natural odours that we deem to be repulsive. “We live in a world that sanitises, deodorises, masks. Certain smells need to be there, but … reality is covered up on so many levels – so many commercial products cover up what is really out there and mask it.”

-Sissel Tolaas , 2016



All in all, the researches done were to give us more impetus in tackling the subject matter of smell. We looked at both the scientific and artistic notion of smell. Through these, we have more inspirations for our deliverable.

Ideals of the Poignant

‘Poignant’ defines both a pungent stench, as well as the arousement of strong mental sensation.

We feel for the word as it expresses similar direction in  which we are projecting towards our outcome.

We want our outcome to evoke a emotion through the scent collected to the people of NTU.

To justify the fundamental of smell as primitive form, our subjects has to create a notion of intuitiveness in interacting with our outcome, therefore our idea lies in utilizing the capture of scent through the human notion of  tactile trajectory.


More to follow in the upcoming post.


PDIV – |7-1 the form of smell

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng


As discussed in the previous week, we have narrowed down our direction into an installation that takes in the smell of people in NTU. As such, the smell that the installation is idealised to emit is dependent on the very people that interact with it. 

We envision our installation to take ‘form’ in the collection of scent only after a given duration in a particular location. 

Our thoughts are really complicated and difficult to explain, so to give you a clearer understanding, below is an analogy. 

Disclaimer: Bear with us…




We have previously put much focus on the given location and environment as our starting point for our installation. However as we looked deeper into the idea, we realised that a given location is only deemed from the objects, people and activities happening within it. In that very sense, the outcome of the collection of smell will be determined by the very catalyst of the human activities happening within the vicinity.

We looked at the article shared with us by Fabrizio regarding scent marketing. We understand the idea of a given scent in a particular place allows familiarization of people to a brand. In the case study of Changi Airport, a distinct perfume is created to induce travellers and locals a familiar ‘home’ scent. 

In the case of our idea, we want to twist the very idea by amplifying the very scent within a given location, determined by the objects and people of NTU. We have previously confirmed that at different parts of NTU, there is a distinct difference in a scent of the given vicinity, and by collecting it can we amplify the scent.

To put our direction in a more layman term, we found a similar everyday activity that we are acclimatised to do that in a way that epitomise our idea – the rubbish bin.

The primary function of a rubbish bin is a container that holds trash, with a cap that induces people to throw rubbish into the void it contains. As a stand-alone, the single entity of a rubbish bin is scentless. 

Rather, the form of the rubbish bin induces trash to be stored within it; and the human activity of throwing trash into the rubbish bin stores trash inside, resulting in a stench created over time.  As such, the rubbish bin is characterised by the trashes that are dumped into it.

In the sense that the human activity of throwing trash characterised the rubbish bin through the result of stench forming over time. The rubbish bin can then be seen as a tangible installation that collects and emit the very smell.   

Similar to the function of a rubbish bin, we would like to create an installation that collects the smell of activities of NTU students; by inducing human activities in the form of interaction with the installation.

Still… bear with us…please

At this point, we realised that we are working towards creating an ‘anti-installation’. We understand that the purpose of our project is to enrich the lives of NTU students through a positive outcome.

Perhaps in your mind at this current moment, the outcome of our installation is somewhat negative. Perhaps over time, the smell collected and emitted will be cluttered with the stench of cigarettes, grease, trash etc. Perhaps the analogy of the rubbish bin is a negative example that trails your mind into thinking that way.

However, at this juncture, we cannot foresee the outcome of the installation, for the outcome is variable. Rather, can we envision the collection of ‘positive’ scent, just like the pages of books, off-cut wood, green cut grass etc? (Of course, these are all idealistic interpretations, but you get my point…right?)


From suggestions of our peers and Professor Ker Siang, we look upon more similar research. 

Yankee Candle

Yankee candles are known for characterising each distinctive scent with a extravagant name or phrase.

In a way, the Yankee candle epitomises the ideals of smell-branding.

By giving an extravagant name to each particular scent, Yankee candle generates interest into a user to want to find out what exactly the scent smells like, whilst in truth has already defined the scent to the user even before they smell the candle- with the very name.

By ‘planting’ such information to the user results in the user being induced to combining the notion of the name to the smell, into the mind.

We feel for this, as we envisioned our users to be induced to our inviting installation in a tangible form which induces interaction. Then, with the emitted smell allows a point of reminiscence in the user.

Arte Povera

Untitled 1968 Jannis Kounellis born 1936 Purchased 1996 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T07074

Literally termed ‘poor art’, Arte Povera is an art movement originated from Italy from the late 1960s to 1970s where artists created art through unconventional process and material.

The movement can be seen as a starting point for conceptual art.

Some notable art pieces are as follows:

From Surface to Surface 1971, remade 1986 Susumu Koshimizu born 1944 Purchased with funds provided by the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T12822

Long Weekend 09: Robert Morris

Long Weekend 09: Robert Morris is a 2009 recreation of the interactive art designed by American artist Robert Morris in 1971. Robert Morris’s installation was prematurely closed due to safety concerns of the reaction of the audience. Long Weekend 09: Robert Morris shows an interactive exhibition which allows people to interact with platforms, rollers, tunnels and ramps.

(Watch video)

More to follow.

PDIV – |6-1 the form of smell

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng

Review of the comments from Exercise Sponge conducted the previous week

Exercise Sponge conducted during the previous week was a study of both material testing; as well as the collective data of absorbed smell at the various location within the premise of NTU.

We understand that the depiction of the form of smell is the ultimate aim of our project. We also know that the choice of material used will heavily dictate the final outcome, hence we conducted the study. Another important factor lies in the chosen site for placement of the final outcome. 

The study proved that within a short span of 40 hours, we were already able to use a readily found material in ‘magic sponge’ to have a collective data of smell. We uncovered the familiar scent of wet grass to ambiguous sniffs of faint. As such, we were able to open up questions and in such ignite conversations with our peers regarding what the smells were, which we feel really embodied our direction towards the aim of our outcome.

Moving forward…

Looking forward, we have some points to filter and confirm:

1. We want to set the main objective of our project. Whether our installation is to serve as a point that collects scent or to give off a scent.

2. We hope to source for a more sustainable material to fit the permanent installation.

3. Lastly, we also want to work with a feasible location in mind. 

Objective of Smell in a Permanent Installation

Smell is an olfactory trigger that is instantaneous and primitive, in beings. Smell is also the sense that is perceived and then acclimatised the quickest through sensory adaptation. Smell is usually the companying subset of the series of senses in a being. We find interest in the notion of smell, thus we took it on as the main theme of our project. Our aim for the final outcome is to curate smell within the premise of NTU as the strongest element of a permanent installation, such that people in NTU are able to remember the installation through the sense of smell.

As we looked upon curating smell in a permanent installation, we came upon 2 directions, both of distinctive differences – one is to formulate the smell within the NTU premise into a form that exudes a certain scent ; the other is to allow the smell of a certain vicinity of NTU to be absorbed into the installation. As such we stand at the crossroad of 2 distinctive different directions, we decided to weigh the pros and cons of each idea to have a clear diction to pick our chosen direction:

1. A permanent installation that gives off a distinct scent that embodies the school as a commentary.


* A resulting outcome will be interesting and distinct
* Creates an identity within a certain space
* Can be created through scent-giving material choice


* Time constraint for the study of NTU to formulate a distinct olfactory sense
* Use of scent-giving material does not tie into the theme of NTU for NTU students, but purely on the choice of material
* Dictating a universally-pleasing scent is difficult to muster as smell is subjective, not objective
* Maintainence of such permanent installation is not easy

2. To amplify the scent of smell through a permanent installation that absorbs smell within a vicinity.


*  Resulting outcome creates the identity of a certain vicinity of NTU through amplification of scent
* Uses scent that is amplified from scents already witihin a premise 
* Resulting outcome 'grows' with time, allows an element of surprise for students to uncover

* Smell absorbing materials sourced thus far are not sustainable
* May not be pleasant smelling scent, rather may result in a odour
* Maintanence easier compared to Idea 1

As we weigh the pros and cons, we are more inclined towards idea 2; thus have set our minds to concentrate on curating the allocated scent to be diffused into our proposed permanent installation.

Curating smell

Curating the absorbed smell, thus amplifying the smell is improbable, simply because the smell is formless. 

We began to look at forms that invite or suggest smelling. Some examples given by Ker Siang was to look at air freshener or perfume bottles forms, and how embalming/ taxidermy works to find possibly inspiration.

Use of weather-proof materials that also smell absorbent is not easy to source for, and we are currently still in the process of sourcing.

Alternatively, we would not want our choice of material to dictate the discovery of smell in the installation, yet it has to fulfil its task of absorbing smell whilst maintaining its sustainable feature.

One consideration is to have the people inside NTU to be able to interact with the installation, and through that process allow the diffusion of the smell of the people into the installation to be absorbed and in turn, amplified by diffusing the scent into the surrounding air.

As such, the installation will be able to absorb smell from the very people that interact with it. Perhaps, both I and Hong Sheng have constantly perceived the environment to be the factor of smell but it is instead the people, activities and that are happening within the environment that dictates the smell. 


Proposed Location

(view video link)


As we considered a suitable location for the placement of our installation, a chanced discovery of this particular location came to me and Hong Sheng.

In the video seen above depicts crowds of people walking through the sheltered walkway. Yet, all have failed to realise the spot that is designed and paved, right beside the walkway. 

We feel for that particular spot. We questioned the intention of having that spot designed and paved. We drew parallels of the ‘neglected’ spot with the sense of smell. The smell that is adapted to pave way for other senses. 

We feel that the location in a way shows similarity with the usage of smell as a sense, and we feel that the location embodied the sense of smell. As such, we view this as a potential location for our installation placement.

To be continued . . .

PDIV- |4 smell research

” SMELL. “


Heng Tong  x  Hong Sheng

As we reviewed the feedback from last week, idea 3 regarding smell-absorbing idea was the most interesting concept to develop. Thus, we took into consideration of smell-absorbing agents as our main topic for research.


Nasevo is the nickname given to Ernesto Ventos, a recognised perfumer and creator of scents. He has since presented books and artworks with regards to smell.

* Unfortunately since most of his published articles are in Spanish, we are unable to fully comprehend his points of view.


Smell Colour: chemistry, art and pedagogy by Ventos, Ernesto

Book published by Nasevo. Tells of the radical way of looking at art with regards to smell.

Book features works from all around the world, based upon the criteria of olfactory agent. Book showcases the notion of olfactory senses that can be classified as chemistry; and how it can exist in the world of perception.


Excerpts from the book

Javier Peñafiel (España, 1964)

(Natural greenery, chlorine, bleach)

Even if the person who provoked it disappears, the smell remains. 

Is desire provoked? Can democracy be provoked?


Mayte Vieta (El cebo, 2003)

(White flowers)

Invisible, it has the virtue of surprising, it appears when you least expect it, it incubates like the little buds of spring, like past times, faraway places, the reunion with a loved one, absenses, little particles in the air, it transports us back in time, unpredictable.


Bill Durgin (Cyc 9, 2007)


I have now begun to associate in my mind memories of the session when I took the photos with the memory of the smells given off by the various objects that accompanied the model. 


We also explored materials which actually absorb smells. We feel that the choice of material will play an important factor in creating our project. We found that carbon filter sponge, newspaper, peace lilies and sandalwood do take in smells to remove odours/filter air particles.

Carbon filter sponge

Carbon filter sponge is a material that we looked into previously.

Carbon filter is a material used in industry for purification and removal of contaminants in both air and water. It is a water-proof material that is also shapable.



The use of newspaper is an interesting choice of material that also absorbs smelling agents. In addition to being a smell-absorbant, the prints on the paper make the material visually interesting and malleable.

We, however, felt that the property of newspaper is not water-resistant and also could be a potential fire hazard, therefore, we will keep the use of newspaper as a material in view. 


In our research regarding natural air filters, we came across plants. In the report ‘NASA Clean Air Study’ published by NASA in 1989 is conducted to find out how plants improve air quality. The focus of the study looked at plants that thrive indoors in low-light conditions and actively remove pollutants from the air.

The peace lily is a plant that is considered the best natural air filter. The peace lily absorbs the pollutants from the air through the leaves before sending them down into the roots of the plant where the microbes in the soil will break down the pollutants; while providing moisture into the surrounding air.

We take particular interest in both the form and the natural air-filtering property of the peace lily.

Air Plants

Another interesting plant that we uncovered is the air plants that are mainly used in indoor spaces to clean the air by absorbing nutrients from the moisture and dirt fibres found drifting in the air.

In addition to their properties, we again take particular interest in their alienating form.


Through the vastly different projects taken from our research, smell as an olfactory agent can become the trigger to a certain memory. Yet that certain memory is subjective to each and every individual. This is an interesting point that we would want to look into to develop further.

We would like to create an exclusive olfactory trigger to any individual in NTU through our project. By creating a particular project that allows people to interact through the olfactory agent, in a way we are creating a ‘starting point’ of the experience of the NTU individuals.

We hope that our project can serve as a point of reminiscence for these individuals come the end of their journey in NTU, through the olfactory agent. As each individuals sense of smell is subjective, their memory experience will be in such a way exclusive.

Our main consideration is to use the olfactory agent as our primary element in our project, hence the outcome should remain ambiguous in the form. One inspiration that we gathered is the Visiona II by Verner Panton where the undulating organic forms, made from bright glossy materials, captured the imagination of a free-thinking society.

We hope to position our project in a place where many of the NTU people can congregate.*

* Points to consider, indoor or outdoor setting

To be continued.

(11) Depreciation of the World – PROGRESS (3)

Garden | City



Research (cont.)

Look at Existing Events that are similar to concept.

Case Study #1

Singapore Lights Festival

Singapore Night Festival presents art installations within Bugis, Bras Basah. Using the streets and facade and spaces inside  Museums located the vicinity, promotes art installations that sets upon a different theme every year.


Case Study #2

i Light Marina Bay


i light marina bay is a 3-week light art festival that presents light installations designed by artists around the world, within Marina Bay. At the same time turning off lights of the buildings around and using the light installations to illuminate the place.


i Light Marina Bay too supports the idea of sustainability through the ‘Switch off, Turn Up” action, where offices are encouraged to switch off lights and turning up air-condition temperatures.

We feel that i Light Marina Bay supports our installation idea, our message of screen-based experience has a deeper meaning and content to the poetic screen-based portray.

Message to be finalised with more research.


Look back at the researched animals, trees and man-made infrastructures and came out with a Life-Cycle table.


Considerations of the amount of animal types as  too much may resulting in confusion of gestures. We do NOT want to overcomplicate the gestures which will hinder the fun of the screen-based experience. Gestures considered has to be simple and relatable.

Amount of animals, trees and man-made infrastructures to be finalised.


On-screen experience based upon the chosen site (Supertree Grove).


Usage of physical backdrop, and incorporating the screen-based technology.

Visualised based upon the size of the proposed screen canvas. Considerations on whether the experience can be optimised with the amount of animals on the limited canvas.


to be continued.

(6) Day1/ Day2

Over a two-day period, do the following:
DAY 1 – create a diary of when, why and what you use your mobile device for. Observe how others are using their mobile devices. What are the most common uses and where do you see these behaviors?

DAY 2 – Do not use your phone, computer or electronic device for 24 hours. Create a diary documenting and describing the difference in your behavior patterns. How did you do the things you would normally do with your phone? What other alternative behaviors did you develop? What else did you notice about the difference in behavior?


Wednesday. 14/9/16

As I woke up from my slumber, I reached for the floor to pick up my mobile phone with my eyelids still shut. I stared blankly straight at the lighted screen of the phone, my eyes already acclimatised to the strain of the bright screen long before. I checked the time, battery meter to see that it is fully charged, and the familiar news of zero new notification. 6.24am. It was still early. I went back to dreamland.

An hour later, I had just bathed and changed. I sat down on the sofa in the Living Room and took out my mobile phone from my pocket. I casually pressed on the Facebook app, swiped upwards and then downwards, then returned back to the home screen to tab on another app as I munched on the sandwich my Mother prepared. As I leave my house for school, I  plugged in the EarPods to my mobile phone and listened to my playlist. I commuted to school with the EarPods firmly intact to my eardrums. Only when I reached the classroom did I unplug the EarPods and sat on an empty seat. 

Lesson was dry. As my focus was draining out, I quietly took out my mobile phone to the ‘Pokemon Shuffle’ game app. I cleared 2 levels. I put the phone back in the pocket. I tried to refocus. Professor starts talking about an interesting topic. I took out the mobile phone again to the notes app and take down some interesting points. After which, I put it back into my pocket. Then, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I took it out again to see an advertisement message. I shrugged as I put it back in the pocket. 

Lesson ended, I made my way to the Canteen with my friend for lunch. After we found vacant seats, I sat on the seat as my friend went to order. I instantly took out my mobile phone to the Facebook app. Again I swiped upwards then downwards to see the same posts I saw in the morning. I then did the same with the ‘Instagram’ app. I then exited the app to open the ‘ESPN' app. It was Champions League Night the morning before. I read the scores. My friend returned holding onto the tray of a pipping hot bowl. I placed the mobile phone back into my pocket as I proceeded to order my lunch.

After lunch, I bid my friend farewell as I fished for the EarPods in my bag. Again, I plugged in the EarPods to my mobile phone and listened to my playlist as I commuted back home. Along the way, I opened my ‘Pokemon GO’ app to clock the distance needed to hatch my eggs. 

I reached home and switched on my laptop to begin work on my assignments. I turned to my mobile phone to check the time. Naturally, I opened the ‘Youtube’ app. I proceeded to ‘relax’ for a while and watched a video off the recommended list, my laptop left idle. What a lie. I felt a doze of drowsiness. 3 hours passed, I woke up with my phone on my tummy. I checked the time, and notification. My friend had buzzed me through ‘whatsapp’. I replied. I finally started work on the laptop. 

Work was exhausting. I had deviated again, but this time with my laptop on the ‘Facebook’ browser. I picked up my phone and subconsciously click  on the ‘Facebook’ app within the phone. I see the exact same updates. I put the phone away and continued work.

Yet again, a doze of drowsiness whizzed by. I told myself I would rest my eyes for a while. What a lie.

My usage of mobile phone is collated into a pie chart as follows.


I realised that I had used my phone for really essential tasks like checking the time since I do not wear a watch. Also, messages and calling allow me to stay connected with my friends at our own comforts. The mobile phone also allowed my daily commute to be more manageable with music accompany and games. The mobile phone also served as a distraction from my daily work which leads to procrastination. It seems the task of clicking the same app repeatedly had become a really bad habit, albeit silly.

In relation to observing people when they are using their mobile phones, I find that most of the usage of mobile phone comes during the time of commute. People are seen using their mobile phone for music, video watching, social media updates etc.


As (bad)luck would have it, the HDB upgrade renovation has commence at my house. As the toilets and kitchen are being renovated, the power supply in my house had to be cut off from 8am-6pm. 


Saturday. 17/9/16

My Mother had woken me up. I looked up to the wall clock. 7.30am. In my half awake state, I went downstairs to bathe in the temporary toilet.

As I finished my breakfast, the construction workers began entering my house to continue with their work. I placed my phone in my drawer, said goodbye to my Family members and left the house with my bag for the library.

As I walked to the MRT station, I was pleasantly taken away by the serene atmosphere. I was able to hear the bustling of the cars that whizzed by, the wind, and footsteps of people. Upon reaching the MRT station, I looked up at the screen to the next arrival MRT, and the time. The commute to Jurong East was relatively quiet. Without my music blasting in my eardrums, I I shifted my focus to observing the other passengers on board. Some where staring blankly to the moving scene outside, while most were preoccupied with the screen of their mobile devices. I peeked into the closest passengers’ screens. Facebook and Instagram feeds. On top of the repeated message from the speaker above, I listened to the muffled sounds that escaped out of one passenger’s earpiece, and the casual conversation(filled with vulgarities) of another passenger. 

I reached the Jurong Regional Library, of which was relatively empty except for the librarians and students who have already occupied the tables. I went up to the second level and rested on the vacant chair for a while. I then picked up the book from my bag and proceed to reading it. Almost all at once, drowsiness began to creep into my head. I tried to refocus but soon drifted off...As I woke up, I wanted to check for the time. This was when I realised the library did not have a wall clock. I went to the e-kiosk to check the time. 11.43am. I went back to my seat and continued reading.

Reading was difficult. I was rather distracted by any small movement of the other people in the library, of which by now was rather packed. I found myself unconsciously tapping on my pocket, before realising that I had left my phone at home. Hums of songs started ringing in my head. I stretched my arms out as I decided to leave my seat and take a walk around. I left my bag on the seat. I went to the e-kiosk again to check the time.

4.45pm. I needed to leave for my part-time job. I packed my bag and left for Queenstown. The train is relatively packed. Along the commute, I continued reading the books. However, I was distracted by the bustling conversations of the passengers. I found myself subconsciously counting down the seconds as to when the door would close at each station. When I arrived at my station, I realised I hadn’t read a single page off my book. 

I reached work earlier than expected. I see the time on the e-finger scan. 5.31pm. I changed into my workwear and made coffee at the pantry. I saw my colleague and chatted. Finally, I started work.

Work was mundane. Usually in between work, I would casually take out my mobile phone to social media updates. This time, I only had my book. I picked it up and looked at the wall clock in the office. 3 hours to knock off. I put my book down again as I went for my dinner break. I gorged down my plate of rice, and slept the rest of the hour away. I went back to work. Now and then I would subconsciously question myself as to why my pants feel lighter, before tapping my empty pocket and realising again that my phone is not with me.

Finally I finished work. I changed and finger scanned-out of work. By then, the Sun had already set. I walked down the familiar path to the MRT station. Usually, I would make use of the time to hatch my eggs from the 'Pokemon Go’ game app while listening to my playlist. This time, I just walked hurriedly to the MRT Station.

The commute back home was similar to what I had experienced. Except the train filled with an air of alcohol. The train was jam-packed with passengers. I stared blankly as I waited to alight at my stop. The ride did feel slightly longer without my music and social media distractions.

I reached home and went downstairs to bathe. It was a long day. Before I even realised, I drifted off to dreamland.

Day 2 was difficult. I made use of the weekend as I could give my laptop a rest. Without music, I found myself hearing a lot of background sounds. Commute felt slightly longer than usual without the distractions from social media, and I found myself counting down the stops. One interesting discovery is the absence of a wall clock in the library. Also, throughout the day, I subconsciously tapped my pocket to recall my absent phone. It made me realise how much of a ‘necessity’ mobile phone has integrated into my daily life, much like spectacles (of which I would subconsciously tap my nose bridge even on days I wore contact lenses). Time was another problem as I don’t own a watch. I realised that I had to source for available structures in order to tell time.

The commence of renovation at my house had pushed myself to the library (of which is not regular). I thought about the instance if I were to carry out this activity in the comfort of my home, what would be the outcome? Probably, I would lie on the sofa with my book and then sail to dreamland for the rest of the day. This actually made me rethink of the ‘distractions’ mobile phones possess. Do these ‘distractions’ really distract me, or are these made a scapegoat for my procrastinations?

(6) a thoughtful designer

Reading: CH 1 from Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, Thoughtful Interaction Design

This chapter explores the qualities of being a thoughtful designer. A thoughtful designer is one who tackles the challenge of design with utmost care and concern and be reflective of the actions of the entire design process, or design knowledge construction.

One interesting point mentioned is that the design outcomes are mostly consequences of mistakes or lack of knowledge, and that the process of design and outcome can never be perfect. I feel that this is true as the whole process of design is rather complex and as designers, we may not be necessarily equipped with the required knowledge of smaller aspects within the whole structure of design. Point of reflection enables us as designers to reflect upon the entire process and probe further to tackle the unforeseen issues with better solutions, previously unknown to us. A good design as written in the chapter may not be reflected in any particular designs, but the courage to challenge constraints and one’s ability to grow.

As the chapter moves towards digital technology of which digital artefacts “without qualities” results. The challenge of digital technology is that the advancement of technology is evolving at a pace too rapid for reflection. It is mentioned that reflection is still essential as the designer upholds the ‘power to create’. I feel that this is true as the rapid advancement of technology has lead to a shortened shelf-life of digital artefacts, and that it will be rapidly become obsolete, replaced and forgotten. Mobile phones come to mind, with the permutations of countless models rapidly replaced within such a short timeframe. However, reflections have been evident too, such as creating a ‘newer version’ or through ‘updates’.

I have also learnt the scale and magnitude of a designer as responsibility is a core trait of a good designer. Whatever we design can have a bigger impact, and we have to be held responsible for what we design. The skills for design thinking is important to be integrated in our core, as designer. Interaction design is too becoming an integral part in design, and we too as designers have to integrate it into our design process, as well as look for methods and techniques to think about and reflect. I feel that design thinking as a process is nothing new as our journey as designers will have used some methods, but the core traits of being responsible is important to be instilled within us as designer.

Q1. The idea of a good design challenges the designer based on the process of critical thinking, but how much of the final design outcome plays a part in the judgement for good design?

Q2. In today’s advancement of technology, how much more of a digital artefact can be pushed to be utilised in today’s context?


(2) idiosyncrasies

Part 1: In your group, organize your documentation and notes from the observation and analysis of the MRT and create a slide-show presentation that you’ll share in class.  Observe, take field notes, identify where things go wrong and what idiosyncrasies you notice through your observations. What are some unusual things that you notice?  Make sketches, notes and document with photos to carefully analyze the user experience during this field trip. Make observations on how other people move through public space.  What solution would you propose to the “things that go wrong”?  Remember, to think about scale in that your proposal might be simple or more complex.  Consider what the challenges might be to implement your proposal.

Part 2: Read the attached Chapter from Jan Chipchase, Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers.  (2013)  Send me (by no later than midnight on Saturday), a response to the reading and two questions.  Please send it to me as a word or PDF document with your name in the file.

This chapter has opened up my understanding on re-discovering the ‘norm’ in activities. Examples discussed are of relatable yet often overlooked ‘norms’ and the factors in making sense of why and how these ‘norms’ came to be is really interesting.

Right at the start of the chapter have I already been peaked by the notion of self-observation and self-discovery, as opposed to mere collecting data from external sources. As a student of design, I have personally done researches based on both methods, and I do find the ideations and final outcomes to be vastly different. More often than not, ideations derived from personal observations yield more sense of pride in my project regardless of the outcome.

The line “even the briefest dip in the contextual-awareness pool can yield insights and inspiration” drew me to the out-of-class activity of journeying from school to Boon Lay MRT station and back. Even though the brief activity was something I frequented in the use of public transport for my commute, I still found myself discovering some really interesting idiosyncrasies previously overlooked. I have often thought that only by collecting more data over a wider spectrum of time can I gain better insights, however it had never occurred to me that even such brief experience can generate such interesting findings too.

Many of the examples given of ways to understand a particular environment and the patterns of the locals are of really normal routine activities in which is very easily overlook. However through the cross-cultural comparisons shows really interesting trends of local behaviours. All these methods points to taking a step back, and re-noticing what is perceived as the ‘norm’ in any certain place and identify such behaviours, even before asking why and how certain things are done in a certain way in a given environment.

Another interesting point is the adaptability of people. How people actually act to adapt to changes in their routine, and even their perspective, are really interesting. One other example on top of my head is the very recent viral game ‘Pokemon GO’ in which brought people out of the comforts of their home, which subsequently leads to more visitors visiting places like parks and even forgotten attractions like Haw Par Villa. Such can also be seen in the food served in different parts of the Country. For instance, places near tourist attractions do serves up foreign delicacies on top of local delights. Such may very well be due to interactions between foreigners and locals and leading to such adaptations.

The signage mostly discussed in the chapter is really different from the ones discussed in class. The use of ‘don’t’ signs serves to control rather than direct, and is often ignored, as the message they present are often accompanied by distaste. Icons used as alternative way of interpretation, whether for the illiterate or the technologically advanced. As such, we are able to concur how developed the state is just from the sign. Language in signage also plays a part in telling of a society. Example of such use in Japan is really interesting and it made me consider the use of short-forms and slangs in the Singapore context and how the use of Singlish can shape our society to Singaporeans as well as the foreigners.

Design research is based strongly on the five senses as the key to sourcing data. Visuals and sounds act as stimuli for the memory as these senses are used as prompts to relive the atmosphere as the researchers segregate the findings.

Overall, I do think user experience is nothing foreign, and as I look back again at the out-of-class activity done previously, I do find myself having already subconsciously possessing some traits of identifying and subsequently, questioning idiosyncrasies.


  1. The use of cross-culture research can yield interesting findings, but how much does the background and mind set of the researcher/ anthropologist plays a part in identifying and subsequently questioning idiosyncrasies in a different culture? For instance what may be perceived as a problem to the researcher/ anthropologist may not necessary be to the locals.
  1. The use of language/ different language in signage in different parts of the world serves more than a mere indication but for deeper reasons. As such, the use of Singlish in signage in Singapore as advertisements and even local companies names is a growing trend in Singapore. How does this say about Singapore as a developed country where more and more foreigners occupy Singapore?


(1) Visibility / Invisibility

Reading Response 2 : Jan Chipchase, Hidden In Plain Sight: How to Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers. (2013)

This chapter covers the elements and importance of good design. Visibility is discussed as a fundamental element of such with the guideline of affordance, constraints and mapping. This is a really interesting read as I am able to relate to many of the stories and problems faced with regards to the design of products.

The products discussed can be classified into 2 types: the under-designed and the over-designed.

Products such as the scissors is an example of a design whereby the fundamentals of affordance, constraints and mapping correlates in such unison, visibility becomes invisible. This brings me to the quote by Joe Sparano: “Good design is obvious, great design is invisible”.

Overly-designed products explored within the chapter such refrigerator, washing machine and telephone, of which notable flaws are discussed. Interestingly enough, the problems discussed still exist even in today’s incredible pool of talented designers in a technologically-savvy society . Why is this so?

The recurring story within the chapter regarding the function of the ‘R’ key of the modern telephone perhaps perfectly explained why as it concluded with the notion of ‘fear’ of radically changing one’s design as “if a feature is in the genome, and if that feature is not associated with any negativity, then the feature hangs on for generations.” 

The trend of touchscreen started the wave of a radically redesign of mobile phones today- in the name of minimalism, where almost every other function is hidden within the infinite capability of the touchscreen, with the exception of the miserable physical ‘home button’. In view of literally making the design invisible, but has the problem of over-design been solved?

I remember presenting the iPad together with my siblings, to my mother for her birthday many years back. Sheer elation turned quickly to frustration within the first hour as my mother struggled with finding and learning the new sets of functions as she indulged in her new device. Even today, she would frantically approach me whenever she accidentally ventures out of her regular set of applications on her iPad mini.

The growing emphasis of minimalism  today has eliminated a majority of visibilities in today’s society, resulting in invisibility being posed as a problem rather to a solution. Seemingly, the 3 fundamentals discussed of affordance, constraint and mapping have been severely compromised. Perhaps the take on design today has been masked by the very meaning of visibility/ invisibility.


1. Why is it that even though the flaws of the overly designed products are evident, people are still susceptible to accommodating the flaws rather than to push for a better design?

2. Problems discussed with the overly-designed electronic products are still evident in the world today. In what way can we solve such recurring flaws to aid in a better design?

Zine Line Vine (Final)

Zine .


Zine + Bookmark

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abstract interpretation | flora & fauna | selected works | heng tong foo

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Zine + Bookmark
Zine + Bookmark

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This project kicked off from a very simple idea. The progression to the final out was really gruelling but worthwhile. I decide to make use of my first assignment due to the fact that this is the last assignment for 2d, and I felt it would be a viable end to 2D.

I did an additional of 2 Zines, purely as a justification to myself since I did really badly for my final 2D assignment last semester. However this does sprout some unwanted problems as I am unable to justify any other reasons for that decision. A possible outcome is to pick certain emotions that complements a certain personality, for instance “introvert” or “extrovert”; and this can further sprout new ideas of binding methods to fit each theme.

Overall, I am really satisfied with the outcome. Many thanks to my fellow peers and Professor Joy for a fun-filled semester of 2D.

End. of. 2D II.