Project Management for Design Professionals


This point in the reading that may seem very obvious and logical, however we often take it for granted when approaching a project. We assume that all the objectives within that point will be fulfilled as we complete a project but we may miss out crucial planning steps in the process. Listing out the various objectives such as budget, safety, expectations before executing a project allows for clarity when making decisions. The decisions made have to keep all the goals in check before proceeding, preventing irreversible problems that may crop up and snowball in the future.

For a case study, I will be using my recent project as a Technical Support and Artist Assistant for a children play space to highlight how the lack of planning in certain criteria resulted in the respective issues that surfaced. The project was completed but I seem to be constantly going back to fix or check on things, so have I actually reached the end of a project?


To create a work that is error free begins with working with tools / technology that you have experience and confidence in. Ideally if it’s a service you provide, it should be something within your speciality that you can offer with pride. However, the interactive pieces we designed were developed on the go with allowance to learn while creating the work. Therefore some of the elements are not tried and tested and resulted in longer hours in de-bugging and troubleshooting. This required me to go down on every other week when the space reports an error on when something starts to fall apart. From this I can reflect that reaching the end error free starts with setting boundaries and managing expectations when planning these devices. There is room to try new methods but there should be at least a fail safe if that experiment to extend the experience does not work out technically. With a device that doesn’t function 100% without supervision, it results to man hours being wasted in repairing and debugging that could be invested in other parts of the project. As a result of going ahead and developing the interactive element, there is a high risk of not being able to fulfil the desired product of the overall project.


As the tech support, I had to fulfil the expectations of the artist as well as the project manager. One of the errors on my part was over promising certain interactions when brainstorming and allowing the planning to continue with those proposed elements to be catered for in terms of vision, time and budget. I ended up spending more time trying to fix an element rather than using the stipulated time to create the other pieces. We ended up simplifying certain interactive elements to cater for the ones that had more errors. Although my role was not as a project manager, I have still had expectations from the artist, the manager and my own to meet. Setting boundaries on what’s realistic and executable is extremely important as it sets the baseline on what can be delivered. Additionally, these steps can only be done when there is honest and clear communication between the various members of the team. Being comfortable to raise concerns and needs allows for problems to be attended to immediately and not grow into a severe one further into a project.

The reading emphasises this point with what makes a good project manager. A project manager has the responsibility to understand, respect and respond to the various motivations of each team member. They are also required to be well versed in the profession territory, knowing enough about the nature of work to understand what their team members can do and their limits. The project manager for this space was the coordinator from the venue. She understood her space very well in terms of what the client requires as well as working with the artist and technical team. As this project was sensor and electronic heavy, she had foresight of giving more time for the development knowing that anything with electronics will come with their difficulties. A project manager knows about all the tasks but is not a specialised expert in all of them. She was able to provide resources to me as the technical support when I came across technical walls and bugs. Instead of trying to help solve the issues in my language, she provided solutions to the problem that are outside of tech to create the same end result experience.

Singapore Biennale : Zai Tang Escape Velocity III

I am always intrigued with the concept of visual scores as everyone has a different way of breaking down sounds and expressing it with a visual medium. It translates with the theory of visual rhythm, in the way certain shapes mimic a sound in terms of it’s accent, flow and expressiveness. Tang’s approach to translating sound seem to be more of an atmospherical one where there isn’t a strict translation of a certain sound to appear as a certain motif. Instead, he uses an overarching theme to describe the sound, through the choice of medium and subject matter. The piece that describes the natural side of the story featured organic materials such as charcoal as well as fluid and free form illustrations, while the opposite featured pen ink illustration with structured patterns of lines and repeated shapes. It’s hard to tune in to a certain sound and see it’s visual representation in the piece, therefore I felt like the visual score was an accompaniment to the sound. The visual score itself was not successful in communicating the idea of the presented sound piece.

This leads to the part that did not work out for me, the lack of visual heirachy to the installation. The strongest element of the work was the way Tang manipulated the sound to express both sides of nature and the urban occupation.

Due to the multiple elements of two contrasting illustrations and physical turntables, the audience becomes distracted. Visual objects attracts a viewer’s attention from far and they would be the first to be assessed and interpreted. The illustration is already fighting for attention with the moving turntables. Both illustrations and turntable have very contrasting metaphors in terms of how it visualises the soundscape. With so many elements to a work, it is challenging for the viewer to process all of it at one go. Being in the space, I was unable to pick up that the speakers were playing two different tracks.

I found the method of which he recorded and manipulated the sound with AI fascinating and hoped that the visual cues were directed to visualising that manipulation of sound in contrast to an uncut, raw recording. This installation is a good case study on how audiences approach multi-media works and the importance of deciding what elements to include in the experience. With more visual and kinetic objects, the mind often gets distracted by it. If the emphasis of the work is in the sound and the subtleties of it, the work should have placed more importance of the communication of that element to the audience.

Social Practice Art : SuperHero Me

Social Practice Art to me is art that is being created with the aim of improving and enabling a specific audience group. The concept uses art as a medium to provide opportunities to reach out to the selected audience and work together to fulfil the decided goal. For this analysis I will be presenting about SuperHero Me, an arts organisation that uses art to empower children from less privileged backgrounds and special needs communities.

SuperHero Me runs Peekaboo! Which is an inclusive arts festival that invites artists to work with the superhero me and the children from various communities in a 5 month residency programme.  Important note is that the festival is organised by superhero me and then inviting artists to be part of the programme.

The artists are supported by a big crew of facilitators titled captains. They all are volunteers and are carefully trained to communicate and create with the children.

Our process began with classroom observations, trainings in disability awareness and understanding children with special needs. We trained ourselves in programme, space, team and personal readiness and the inclusive arts approach, which puts the children who work with us in positions of power. We see them as equals, not beneficiaries. In fact, we have gained far more in expanding our notion of creativity, exploring new ways to connect them with the public and building our collective confidence in facilitating inclusive experiences.”

Their emphasis on empowering the children shows in the works that are created for the festival, in particular Camouflage by UYII  & The Story of the Sky by Ng Fongyee

Camouflage encouraged the participating children to create in the act of play and the prints and work were then curated into a playspace that invites other children to engage and play. The Story of the Sky presents a piece that works in particular with children that have limited mobility that are often overlooked by artists facilitators. The work weaves in technology of eye tracking to enable the children to draw by moving their heads and have their works be created into creatures of a digital sky.

The works that were presented in the festival were a testament to the organisation’s mission and goals of inclusiveness and advocacy. The works were more of a display of the experience of the 5 month residency, sharing to the audience various ways of engagement. It highlights what is required to engage with the children as equals and how the artists learn from both the children and the facilitators.  The exhibition was open to the public but only in a form of tours. The captains who led the tours shared all the experiences and stories of each exhibition, pulling the audience into the creative processes. This festival works as they present the whole residency process as the final artwork and through art, the audience learn about the methods and sensitivity involved when working with people with special abilities.

What works for a social practice work is for the organisation that works closely with their demographic to reach out to artists and art as a form of outreach, compared to artists creating a concept and then reaching out to the organisation. Often artists do not spend enough time with the targeted demographic and end up creating a work that doesn’t serve their needs and come across as a surface attempt on social work.

As much as raising awareness and exposure is the trend in social practice art recently, it does nothing if the efforts and programmes are not sustained. In Peekaboo! , the programme trains a large team of facilitators and artists that have the first hand experience and education on working with people with disabilities. It doesn’t educate a relatively large audience, but provides the resources for this group of people to be better educated and apply and share their knowledge to people around them on a daily basis.