Theme : Illusion

// A dive into the mystique pockets of voids.

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures album by Peter Saville (1979)

Graphic designer Peter Saville created the debut cover album for Joy Division using the pulsar signal, “what you’re seeing is this comparative chart of the frequency and the accuracy of the signal.” (Source: Rolling Stone) Pulsar is a neutron star that rotates as it emits powerful beams of light like the lighthouse.

ILLUSION OF MOVEMENT (moiré experiments) by Mathijs Delbaere (2015)

Animadoor by Sena Oh (2015) – An optical illusional installation door

I was fascinated by the abstract use of minimal elements to generate transcending effect of movements. Works of Delbaere and Sena utilised moire effect to create illusional spatial depth.

This became the main art direction, use of simple geometric shapes to compose as I try to figure out After Effects in the later stage of learning process.

Inspiration and Research

With the above ingredients to compose, I needed an atmospheric visual to spice up the overall look – glow of neon lights. My love for neon came from films that revolved around night city life,

Since the media wall situates in a rather dark space, illuminated colours will paint a strong and memorable mood.

Dan Flavin (1933 – 1996)

With that in mind, Ina recommended me to look into this American minimalist artist Dan Flavin (1933 – 1996). What I love about this series of art installation is its simplicity in form and the use of florescent bulb to speak as he explained, “It is what it is and it ain’t nothing else.” The work is sensitively infused into the exhibit space, he accentuated spatial depth to enclosed space with glowing lights.

Centro Cultural Light, Rio de Janeiro, 1998
Untitled; To Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard (1972 – 1975)
Untitled; To Saskia, Sixtina, and Thordis (1973)
Untitled (1970)

Flickr Photography 

Flickr has a pool of quality photos available to refer to, it is a great visual database for me to study neon light illumination and colours.

Photographer: Andrey Okonetchnikov
Photographer by Christian Noise
Photographer by Shelbel

iLight Marina Bay 2017

With luck, there was light installations along Marina Bay! I was able to see how neon light installations work at a larger scale, in terms of colour interactions.

Northern Lights by Aleksandra Stratimirovic (Sweden)

Inspired by the natural light phenomenon of aurora borealis, 100 horizontally aligned LED light lines are programmed to emulate the unpredictable flow of lights that interacts with its surroundings.

Horizontal Interference by Katarzyna Malejka & Joachim Slugocki (Poland)

With simple cord construction, the illuminated bands create colourful waves of excitement powered by the surrounding wind.


// Softwares used: After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro

  • Using Photoshop and Illustrator to construct main shape layers of key compositions.

  • Import to After Effects, generate animations and effects.

  • Music syncing: Premiere Pro to mark key frames of specific accent beats.


// Thumbnails > Song Selection > Animate

  • Creating thumbnails of design based on the theme, generally diverse in style.

  • Song selection was one of the toughest decision. I wanted to capture the mood of obscurity, yet something that’s upbeat.

Final choice of song: Numb by Brothel.

  • Animating with After Effects with simple effects – shape scale, position, blur, hue and saturation etc. Rather than creating a complex effects, I relied heavily on the song piece to visualise movements. We can dissect and analyse a piece of music with its following characteristics:
    1. Texture (high pitch/heavy bass)
    2. Tempo (fast/slow)
    3. Articulation (short/long note)

Use of colours and thicknesses of lines/shapes to associate with these aural effects. Eg. bright thin lines to accompany a high pitched melody


First screen test was my first attempt to navigate around After Effects. It was a mix of everything I could compose, from abstract forms to typography. Quite a mess but it set me to what I can expect to produce for the remaining weeks to come!

Final work (working in progress)

Spacebar explores into the boundless void to reveal the presence of space based on one’s perspective.



Explore: iLight Marina Bay 2017

Travelled downtown on a Friday night to check out the iLight installations and carnivals at Marina Bay. Here are some works (sorry about the quality) that I found relatable to what we are working on:

  • Northern Light by Aleksandra Stratimirovic (Sweden)
    Location: Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, along Marina Boulevard
Source: iLight Marina Bay

100 LED lights hung across the Marina Bay skyline emulates the natural light phenomenon of aurora borealis. Direction of light flow interacts with the human movements.

  • Very Glowing Exhibition – Very Glowing River by Lee Wei Lieh, Amelia Lee and Jeffrey Lim (Singapore)
Source: iLight Marina Bay

Lit with UV lights, the glowing pebbles illustrates the moving flow of river that is free to roam about and interact for the children.

  • Horizontal Interference by Katarzyna Malejka & Joachim Slugocki (Poland)
    Location: Mist Walk
Source: iLight Marina Bay

Held by the trees, the cords jump in cohesion with the wind, creating a colourful rays of illumination. It is definitely one of my favourite installation.

  • Social Sparkles by Toer Studio (the Netherlands)
    Location: Mist Walk
Source: iLight Marina Bay

Sensor buds are activated by when someone stands or walks under them. The lighted spinning buds are especially amongst children!

Seeing how all these installations became everyone’s favourite shot on Instagram recently, I can see how some of our works on the Nexus wall to be a great step to start creating our own digital wall installations someday (maybe?)!



Prototype #02: Still Composition Study

The first prototype was rather messy as I was totally clueless to what can be created with my limited amateur knowledge in motion graphics. It was frustrating to end up with two different directions – from abstract to neon typography when there are so many things I want to explore!

Due to time limitation, I’m stuck with ideas (that I envisioned) that are kind of impossible to execute. I decided to go back to start afresh by creating key compositions on Photoshop.

Anchored by the theme of mystical illusion of space, I continue to use neon glow (truly in love with it) to accentuate the colours. Here the shapes are layered and aligned to emulate 3-dimensional forms. The challenge was to make relations of these independent compositions with movements and transitions.

Research and References

Some inspirations I’ve found, while on the other hand, finding the right song piece:






A Trip to Harvey Norman

On Tuesday we headed down to Harvey Norman in Millenia Walk to check out the current products on the market. Here are some observation I’ve made:

Compare: Dyson hair dryer VS alternate brand hair dryer

I have been hearing about the hype of Dyson’s hair dryer, simply for its higher pricing ($599!!!) and iconic form – circular tube mounted on a pedestal. Testing out the product myself was a m a z i n g (i felt so cool using it :>).

Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer

A simple form accentuates with futuristic element for its sleek and metallic material. Colour palette goes monochrome – black, white and silver. Heads for different functions are interchangeable with magnetic attachments. The act of attaching those heads with just a click enhances the user experience greatly. Heat shield technology allows the body surfaces to stay cool. With such a small engine running, it produces a pretty strong gush of air!

(4/5 would buy for I know that it’ll last for a very long time (by Dyson) and it’s small enough to carry when travelling. That is, if I can afford)

Hair dryers from the other brands take on a conventional route to compete with price or addition heads that helps with curing hair. Apart from the body that contains the engine, rest of the parts are slim and vary with curvature forms. Black and white are essential colours with a touch of red/ pink specially for their feminine consumers.

The difference: Design for hairdryers in general are dominant on functionality – different level of warmness and wind velocity. Dyson supersonic design chooses to take on the emotion dominance node with its revolutionary form. While advancement in technology and research have given confidence to the consumers, it revises on how a hairdryer can look like. The emotional appeal here is based on our knowledge and impression of the technical specifications in Dyson products – the hollow circular tube that reminds us of ‘that cool bladeless fan’. It is a product of innovation catered to tech lovers indulged in high-end lifestyle.

Discover: Current trends on the market

Upon the entrance of Harvey Norman, most notable trends on popular kitchen appliances are pastel colour palette and retro theme. Smeg catches the wave of retro revival craze with its 1950s pastel toasters and kettles.

Smeg Retro Style Aesthetic Kettle

Morphy Richards has a range of retro inspired kitchen appliances too, but with a neutral muted range of colours.

Morphy Richards Traditional Kettle

A common characteristic from the home appliances and speakers is the oraganic form. The curvatures in their body forms and round edges allow the products to look less rigid and uniquely different.

Samsung Radiant 360 R7 Wireless Speaker

Samsung Series 7 55″ SUHD 4K Curved Smart LED TV

Samsung 8kg Eco Bubble Washer

Bosch Series 8 VarioPerfect 9kg Front Load Washing Machine

Explore: Novel Functions

+ Found this interesting build-in sink from one of the washing machines that emulates the natural form of water ripples.

Samsung 13Kg Activ DualWash Top Loader Washing Machine

Thought it was a confusing and unnecessary add-on until I went back to do some research:

+ Dyson’s vacuum is designed to have a curved body with low centre of gravity. This helps the vacuum to roll back upright with gravitational force. What drew my attention was its sci-fi looking form with those small kinetic cyclones. Once again, the brand surrounds its product aesthetic to the technology advancement – an emotional appeal.

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Vacuum

+ Some vacuum brands seem to distinguish themselves with a different colour, which I thought it’s a smart move. Companies can reduce manufacturing cost with minimal selection of colours and consumers are able to recognize and differentiate brands visually.

Overall thoughts

It’s been awhile strolling through Harvey Norman, I am still as fascinated as I was a kid looking and running my hands through products. Items on the current market tend to skew towards design that has emotional dominance, expanding on wider range of colour selection to novel shape forms.


Prototype #01

The first prototype is to test the movement of abstract lines and use of words. It was to create 3-dimensional space using simple white strokes of lines against the black background.

A very simple animation was done in week 5 since the theme was still undecided. Composition mainly uses vertical lines and radial rings of circles, in symmetrical harmony.

While looking for more inspirations, I was attracted to neon light signs. Without movement, its flickers and glow have made its presence significant in the darkness. A silhouette of letter is made out of simple lines and curves. It can easily create a certain mood from what we are familiar with – street signs that represented the vibrant city nightlife. Prosperous, lavish or even lonely. I find neon light a powerful tool to tell story.

First prototype was rather scattered with different concepts:

00:00-00.12 | syncing entrance of each stroke of lines according to the music.

Feedback: stops at an awkward position, could have ultilized the remaining space on the right.

00:15-00:21 | flashing of words across the screen. Neon light effect

Feedback: speed of movement too fast to read the words, would look better if font size is big enough to fill up the height of screen.

00:22-00:33 | moiré effect with vertical moving lines

Feedback: calming to watch (very positive :D)

00:36-00:40 | horizontal lines shooting across horizontally

Feedback: abstract, gives a sense of movement (yess)

00:44-00:47 | ‘Media Art Nexus’ neon sign

Feedback: generally positive

+ Sudden flashes of white on the screen are painful to watch (sorry passerby).

Here’s how it looks like on the wall!

Interaction with Environment

The first screening has proved that a simple abstract play of lines can look impressive on the huge nexus wall! Since the walkway has no addition lights on the ceiling at all, nexus wall is the only light source to bring this dark space to life – use of colours on the screen is very important to create mood. I find the reflection on the floor fascinating – direct consequential reflection on the ground could be part of design?

Moving on to second prototype

Ina has suggested to study neon light artist, Dan Flavin, who uses neon lights of different colours to suggest depth and movement.

It is a tough decision between going abstract or using neon-lighted typography. Ina recommended me to use poem or song lyrics (like a jukebox machine) if I were to go for the latter option. However, interpretation of words can be subjective and therefore misleading to individual’s understanding. It can be restricting as to what I can do with the visual reference too.

I’ve decided to play abstract with more possibilities to venture in. The mood to go for is mysterious and obscure, traveling viewers into an alternative reality within the few seconds passing by the walkway. This prototype will hopefully be more or less be the finalized version!!


Aesthetic Influence on Products

As discussed in the previous lecture, there are three main nodes that influence the design aesthetic of a product – Function, Human Factor and Emotional.


Functional based products are necessary items to help users in completing a task. Little or no emotional appeal is required for these products since its functionality is what consumers are buying for. They are usually tools and equipment that require mechanical precision for high efficiency. It can be considered as a mature product with stable demand, where an ideal design is mainly of utility purpose. Examples are screwdriver, clock, fan, can opener and rice cooker.

+ Comparing bicycles from different brands:

A typical bicycle would look like this,

Below is the Cannondale Dutchess, a lightweight bicycle designed for women:

Designer: Wytze van Mansum (2009)

And the origami-inspired Fold Bike that folds into a super compact size:

Designers: Tim Gerlach & Eason Chow Wai Tung (2015)

Despite every designer’s effort to push the boundary of its structure, a bicycle ultimately has to help user complete his/her task — ease of transportation.

Human Factors

Products are designed with priority to the use of conduct. On average to last for a period of time per use, it is important for users to feel comfortable enough to grip, hold or touch. Body and form have to be intuitive enough for user to know how to use without any instructions. An ergonomic product will fit the human body measurement in maximizing the comfort of users while interacting with it. Examples are backpack, spectacles, sofa, chair, earpiece and mattresses.

+ The Bath Pouch aims to bring convenience for mothers to bathe their babies with getting backache, pretty cool! Baby will not be as afraid to take a bath in his/her familiar space of a cradle. Mothers don’t have to worry about accidents of submerging baby’s head into the water.

Designers: Yihao Tsai & Yu Ting Cheng (2013)


To evoke user’s emotion, the aesthetic of product wants to project a certain mood or impose a certain status to the user. It has to activate a personal connection from our memory and experience, relating to feeling of happiness, nostalgia or fear. Relevant motifs/forms associate users with what they find (un)familiar. Use of colours, scent, texture enhances the visual aesthetics too. This type of design has high reliant on consumers’ taste, perhaps targeted specifically to a selected group of consumers. They tend to be luxury products, if not with unconventional visual. Products tend to be more innovative when designers push boundaries to entice consumers for its novelty. Examples are jewelry, clothes, branded footwear (yeezy, nike, adidas), and children’s toy.

+ High end speakers Bang and Olufsen use a minimal and sleek form to distinguish itself in the market. Smooth and shiny steel surface gives an edgy look. The effort to ‘hide’ the head speakers blends product into the living space like a decorative piece. Neutral cool colour palette brings out a modern and timeless theme.

BeoVox 2 speaker installation
BeoSound 2 wireless speaker
BeoLab 90 loudspeaker

Overall Thoughts

A good product will immediately communicate its intention through the aesthetic. It gives user a sense of trust to commit to – in both practical and emotional way.

Three nodes can be interchangeable depending on the stages of product in the market. Below is the transformation of aesthetic value of Mini Cooper over the decades, from functional to emotional appeal.

When resources were scarce after the Suez Crisis (1956), there was a need to reduce fuel usage from the public. In 1959, Alec Issigonis designed Mini Cooper which has became the iconic British small car loved by avid collectors worldwide. This is one interesting product, in my opinion, that shifted its aesthetic quality from functional to emotional node. Its initial selling point was to save fuel while at the same time, introduce the space-saving front-wheel-drive layout that freed 80% of the car space. In this present day, driving a Mini Cooper around gives driver a unique persona – hip, retro and quirky. It could evoke a strong sense of sentimental value to someone from the older generation. Or garner interest for its round and bulky form, a fresh look from the mainstream 21st century design.


Good Read: Visceral, Behavioural and Reflective Design

Here’s something I found relevant to explain the 3 nodes. Extracted from the book ‘Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things’ by Donald Norman. Read it here!

Visceral Design

“You can find visceral design in advertising, folk art and crafts, and children’s items. Thus, children’s toys, clothes, and furniture will often reflect visceral principles: bright, highly saturated primary colors. Is this great art? No, but it is enjoyable…At the visceral level, physical features—look, feel, and sound— dominate.”

Behavioural Design

“Good behavioral design should be human-centered, focusing upon understanding and satisfying the needs of the people who actually use the product…understanding the user’s needs, ideally derived by conducting studies of relevant behavior in homes, schools, places of work, or wherever the product will actually be used… This iterative design process is the heart of effective, user-centered design.”

Reflective Design

“Attractiveness is a visceral-level phenomenon—the response is entirely to the surface look of an object. Beauty comes from the reflective level. Beauty looks below the surface. Beauty comes from conscious reflection and experience. It is influenced by knowledge, learning, and culture…reflective-level operations often determine a person’s overall impression of a product. Here, you think back about the product, reflecting upon its total appeal and the experience of using it.”