iLight Festival Installation Inspiration

Home on Marina Bay Waterfront


Simplicity in communication is one of the greatest qualities of a strong design. The light installation Home reconnects each person to their idea of home and memories. While such an elementary term, the meaning of home goes much deeper than the physical place we live in. Our home is commonly associated with our past, where we come from and the people, values, and memories that go with that place. People call all sorts of places home, whether a city, a house, a neighborhood, an apartment, a flat – wherever their greatest sense of comfort and care lies. The group of friends who designed this installation harkened back this basic definition of what a home is by deciding to replicate the most iconic image of a home, the four walled rectangular house with square windows, a single front door and peak sloped roof. The boundaries of the house feel present within the three-dimensional structure but the emptiness inside allows each person to imagine their personal home. Lack of extravagance in production of the piece add to its simplicity and immediate communication of a home. This light installation is a beautiful testament to the fondness of a home within a bustling concrete jungle.


Northern Lights across Marina Bay

Northern Lights

No matter how nice a city is, people are still enthralled with earth’s natural beauty. From great mountains to coral reefs the natural beauty of the planet is something we are drawn to. Artist Aleksandra Stratimirovic used this mesmerizing way about nature in her light installation Northern Lights. Strategically positioned above the bay, the LED light rods reflect vibrantly on the water below. Each viewer experiences the show slightly differently as the lights move around randomly, paired with a uniquely composed soundtrack for a more immersive experience. Northern Lights delights its audience because it brings a beautiful rare sight only visible in the far northern hemisphere to a tropical destination at the equator — an experience many do not see in their lifetime and just a hint of the full experience in nature.

UX: Jan Chipchase Thoughts

It’s difficult to not participate in certain activities or read articles like Jan Chipchase’s “Calibrating Your Cultural Compass” without having on the foreigner lens. My primary goal in moving to Singapore this fall was to be open to new and more experiences – to immerse myself in places with background and cultures different than I had experienced before. This is research. It may not have been explicitly stated in a research thesis but as Chipchase states, ” great [design] research is finding the right balance between formal and informal data collection.” Recognizing that we are constantly collecting data about people and places through observations, conversations and activities is the easy part. The more difficult part would be purposefully dedicating time to do so in an environment that is new to you where there will inherently be more learnings.

Many of Chipchase’s methods or examples of observation in Chapter 5 helped me realize just how much I was learning in the past two and a half weeks in Singapore. It’s quite interesting how small behavioral tendencies or subliminal signage or language use can share so much information. Being able to compare and contrast people’s attitudes, mannerisms, beliefs, values, reasonings etc. is at the heart of what Chipchase calls to “go native” and attempt “rapid cultural calibration”. In just a single MRT ride or an afternoon canteen lunch or a morning run on campus I can pick up on some of these learnings. What’s most interesting to me though, is how everyone is trying to learn about people because we can find patterns in people of certain places and document concrete data. But ultimately, individuals are all entirely different from each other. There almost seems to be levels of connections where people have the same or similar behavioral tendencies and mindsets at a surface level only. The idea of a platzgeist in which people strive to understand how an environment comes together through it’s people, place, background and activities gave me a much greater understanding of the applicability of gestalt theory in real life and of the purpose of user research in the workplace.


  1. Where is the line drawn between creative strategists/ designers who focus on front end user research and anthropologists? Why not have a team that combines the two or where people share roles throughout the process?
  2. How specific can you go in learning about the platzgeist of an environment or the people of a place? Chipchase says it’s possible to collect too much information so how can you sensor your data collection to only include that which is necessary?

ADM User Experience

Ironically, my first assignment in ADM was to analyze the user experience of navigating through the ADM building as a new student. Just finding this class as my first time in the building was more difficult than I expected.

UX Thoughts: The Design of Everyday Things

Donald Norman’s first chapter of The Design of Everyday Things made me realize how difficult it is to explain design to someone. He has taken an idea that is at the center of design — the user experience — and analyzed its parts in a way that almost becomes scientific or mathematical. The way he describes affordances, signifiers and feedback in relation to machines and relationships reminded me of input and output in mathematical functions and the cause and effect of physics. When analyzed, the design process is quite complex — or at least it should be for a good design — but it is interesting to me how good design seems so simple, so “easy” or “obvious” of an answer. This directly corresponds with how it is easier to spot design that has flaws or is poorly designed.

Reading this chapter also put into context the value of “communication design” which in this case is the design thinking that when put into use communicates the object or service’s intended use. Without this communication, Norman states “the whole purpose of the design is lost”. On the other hand, his depiction of communication in terms of signifiers and perceived affordances made me question the boundaries of communication design. I’ve been taught thus far that industrial designers deal with the physical design of forms but if physical traits become communication tools to signal the way in which to use something, then is that not communication design? The lines between design fields has always seemed to blur, maybe because good design requires multi-disciplinary teams as Norman talks about. Yet, this reading prompted me to question the naming conventions of design disciplines more than I have in the past and seemed to open doors to what “communication design” might become for me in my future career.


1. Is there a better term for conceptual model? This part of the analysis confused me but seemed to relate to user testing and how people perceive connections and relationships and thus have certain expectations. Norman says “A good conceptual model allows us to predict the efforts of our actions” but this sounds quite vague because each person has their own predictions or expectations for an outcome. The only way to solve this would be user testing which would result in more concrete results than a “conceptual” model.

2. Does smarter technology increase or decrease interactivity? Technology can now react in more ways than one so that input A may result in output B, C or D etc. There still seems to be some concrete formula though in the results or feedback of a design because machinery and objects cannot understand emotions, thoughts, or body language like human to human interaction can. The article made me question if there is “less” of a user experience in technology that is “less interactive” because technology might be able to read environmental cues and such.