Future World Reflection

Teamlab’s Future World exhibition was a beautiful showcase of the intersection between art and science. My favourite exhibit was Space. The use of LED lights and mirrors created a beautiful optical illusion that you were in an infinity room. The use of light and reflection was brilliantly used to make you feel like you were flying through outer space itself.

City in a Garden pays homage to the Garden City movement. It celebrates the flora and fauna of Singapore and how it is all part of an interwoven circle of life. I loved how Transcending Boundaries utilized butterflies to connect all six pieces and how if you touch the butterfly projection, it will die. It is an interesting narrative about how humans affect the circle of life. The room itself brings you into the circle of life; there is a constantly state of flow and harmony brought together by the blooming flowers, flowing river, and butterflies. Every time I looked around, there was a different rotation of nature being projected.

This was a wonderful experience that transported me into another world. It was a beautiful mix of artwork showcase and user interactivity.  Team Lab artistically used both visual and audio stimuli to transport you into the Future World. 


Chapter 5: Calibrating Your Cultural Compass

Jan Chipchase breaks down how you can go through rapid cultural calibration. This can be done in 30 minutes, hours, or even years. The first step is to “wake up with the city“. The typical city wakes up at 4 am. During this time, you can experience how the city starts up: how its infrastructure systems prepare the city before the first wave of commuters. It’s crucial to experience some form of local transportation, even better if during peak hours. At these cultural central points, you can see signs, breaching behaviours, and public tolerance towards behaviours. Transportation and commuting also affect how businesses are scheduled; for example, in Beijing, business calls are scheduled during car commutes to the office. The most important part of cultural calibration is to physically place yourself in a community to experience it. Chipchase made an emphasis on visiting a salon/barber. In this social situation, you are given 20 minutes to chat with a local about basically any topic under the sun. This conversation will give you insight into local opinions and attitudes. 

There is no secondary research that will compare to the first-hand experiences. 

Jan Chipchase: Chapter 4

Keys, money, and phone are stated as the essential items needed to be carried on a person before leaving their home. As a student, I can’t leave my home without my laptop, laptop charger, and phone charger. I also carry my water bottle, reusable tumbler, metal straws and utensils. These are all the tools that I need to be functional outside of my home. I believe that money is slowly being pushed out of the equation due to the introduction of Applepay and Googlepay. Cash and credit cards are unnecessary weight. Everything we do is based on convenience,  security, peace of mind,  and reliable solutions. My backpack houses all of the tools I need.  My phone, laptop and keys all have a very short range of distribution as they come with a high risk of theft. In Canada and Singapore, there is a low risk of theft however the consequences of theft are high no matter the geographical location.

Reading Response: Jan Chipchase—Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers.

Jan Chipchase emphasizes the importance of user experience designers to immerse themselves in the group of people that they are designed for. In-field research creates more meaningful connections and understandings of the routines and cultural habits. No matter how nuanced online secondary research is, it will never be as accurate as primary in-field research. Rapid Cultural Calibration can be done by taking part in rush hour commutes and mundane task/chores. Key cultural points of contact in a daily routine: commuting systems, airports, bus stops, barbershops/salons, eating, and signs. 

What are breaching behaviours? This thought brings attention to what is culturally accepted in the community. For example, eating on public transit. It is an act that can be fined in Singapore and Taiwan whereas, in Toronto, Canada, it is normal to be eating on public transit. Why is eating not allowed in public transit? How does the authority figure enforce these rules? Signs within a city prohibiting actions can say a lot about stress points in behaviours and preferences. 

Response: Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City

Annette Kim talks about how spatial ethnography, property rights of public space, and critical cartography are all essential elements to understanding sidewalk life in Ho Chi Minh City. 

The process of designing for a demographic relates to the Define stage of a design problem. The very first step is to conduct user research and observe how they interact with their environment.

“When people try to identify universal cognitive modes for social phenomenom, they only reveal their own socialized conigitive frames” 

She talks about a designer designing a neighbourhood that won awards but in reality, it did not benefit the people who were actually living in them. They have to understand the system of power and order. She brings up a good point that design is beyond aesthetics. There is a cultural impact of every design. It is impossible to completely understand how a city’s people function in their own space solely based on statistics and documentaries. One must immerse themselves into the veins of the city. Designers cannot enter an ethnographic study with their preconceived hypothesis and “conceptual blinder”. Who are the types of people interacting and claiming this space? 

Design of Everyday Objects

The following objects centre around my residence. The first few days living here was a huge learning curve. 

Object #1: Water Taps

I use the water dispenser taps every day, multiple times a day. The water dispenser is located in the kitchen on every floor in my hall.

 Affordance and Signifiers

The colour of the taps afford temperature of water flow. A water tap is typically turn on with a turning or pushing mechanism.  The signifiers of temperature colour-coded taps: pink for hot and blue for cold. These colours are universally known as hot and cold respectively. The groove at the top of the handle indicates a space for the hand to use force to push against. However, there was a further step needed for a steady flow of hot water: I had applied the same motion I did with the cold water and we met with drops of hot water. My next thought was to turn the handle clockwise to increase the pressure; that did nothing. I started to figure out the difference between the two taps. The pink tap has an additional lock mechanism that needed to be lifted while the tap is being pushed down. Even though this lock mechanism is designed to keep the user safe, it requires more signifiers that it needs to be lifted simultaneously. 

Object #2: Exit Button 

I’m not used to having to press a button to exit a locked door from the inside. I remember shaking the gate trying to get it to open until someone told me that I had to press a button. The design of the button is clear: you have to press it for it to create an output but the output is unknown. The white button is situated right beside a box with a confusing message: It gives the message of “break glass to door release” but it is in a green lockbox. This is the only item that has clear signifiers of a door release to leave the building. Therefore, this exit button does not afford to unlock a gate. It requires signifiers to tell the user to press the button for 2 seconds in order to unlock the gate. The location of the button could also be moved to be closer to the gate.