In this reading, Jan Chipchase illustrates how the things we carry around with us and our digital presence says something about who we are as people. Personally, I always have 3 essentials on me at all times. To help me remember before I leave my door in the morning I number each one off and I’ll quickly say to myself do I have “1,2,3” every morning. This just lets me know that there are three things and I may not remember what they are for that day, but I remember the number 3 and say to myself “do I have these items” ( I may add a number the night before depending on the day planned). My environment/location is a leading factor for what determines “my 3”. For instance, back home in Toronto, it would be my phone (calls/text, apple pay, applications), Blistex, and Presto bus card (at least one member of my family is always home so keys are not critical). Whereas here in Singapore, I need my phone, charger + international adapter, camera gimbal( I vlog), a watch, residence key fob, hand sanitizer, and cash. The reason I need so many more things in Singapore is usually because of how inconvenient it is to return to my hall to get something. I live 11 flights of stairs up in a building with no elevator, so it’s easier to carry a backpack and just stuff all the “maybe’s” in. 

He also explains the notion of “range of distribution” which to me simply means how clung onto your assets you are. The story of Meili from Shanghai made me realize that I am quite opposite to her. I often leave laptop, wallet, keys out on a public table and I’ll get up and go get something elsewhere without worrying too much about it. In fact, all four years of my high school career I never locked my locker, it was more convenient that way and I had a lot of trust for everybody. With that being said, I acknowledge that this is not the best thing to do in let’s say a mall but something like a school, hospital, church… I usually don’t overthink it. 

Furthermore, he mentions how storing everything on our digital devices has made things a lot easier for us. The things on our iCloud, external hardrirves and memory cards are a part of us and tell apart of our story. I’ve had my hard drive for 3 years now and on it, I have stored 5 years worth of memories and they mean everything to me. On it, I carry photos of my friends and family, videos from weddings, concerts, the first day of school and many more. “Snapchat Memories” is something that I truly appreciate because you can take a 10sec video of your day and store it in the app to save space on your phone. About a year ago my mother lost her phone and she was very sad not because of the physical phone but because that meant she lost years of photos. Luckily, I had set up a google drive/photos account when she purchased her phone so all the photos she had been taking on her Samsung she retrieved on her iPad upon downloading the app. Things like this make me realize how much these technological advancements have helped make our lives so much easier. 

I also agree with his last statement on how fortunate we are to travel and constantly teach ourselves about life lessons this world has to offer through immersing yourself into different cultures. I came to Singapore because I knew little to nothing about Asia and I knew I didn’t want to live my life missing out on the whole eastern side of the world. Technology has helped me with this process because it allowed me to research about what life here is like so I can prepare, it has also given me a platform to share my experience via YouTube. Not to mention, I can communicate with my family that live in over 10 cities around the world through 1 Viber group-chat. 



You may also watch these two videos to see before and afters:



Google Drive Link:


Artist Statement 

The individual photographed in the images above is Jessica Lewis, a UX/UI designer born and raised in the heart of Toronto, Canada. Jessica also happens to be my best friend and we both came to Singapore together wanting to experience something out of our comfort zones. What compelled me to take this image is so that I can capture and manifest a struggle in her life that she is currently facing. That being identity — as a 6th generation Canadian Jessica has no idea what her ethnic makeup is and this sometimes makes her feel like she doesn’t belong. Jessica looking at her reflection in the mirror is a symbolic representation identity and knowing who you are as a person. In terms of location, one of our favourite places to go to in Toronto is IKEA (we love home decor) so I took her there so she can feel in her element during the shoot.

Technical Decisions 

  • Camera : I used the Nikon D7500 with a 50mm lens. I stood behind her with the camera to portray the sense that we (the audience/viewer) are looking through the mirror with Jessica. I made sure to rack the focus on her face and blur out her arm and hair on the right side so that all the attention is not drawn there, but yet it is still noticeable.
  • Digital: First I used the healing brush tool to even out skin tone starting off with the nose and remove most but not all the blemishes on her face/neck/chest to give a natural air-brushed look. I also removed the mascara and eyelash shadows around her eye using the same method. Not to mention there was two white patches on the tile under the mirror that i faded out to make it more subtle. After this I used the dodging and burning to lighten up her dark circles under her eyes. I used the gaussian blur filter to smooth out areas such as her stomach and arms. Then over processed the blur on her forehead to contour it. In addition I made the shiny parts of her face more dull and removed wrinkles on her shirt. The clone stamp tool came in hand to straighten the folds in her shirt. I used “liquify” to make Jessica’s lazy eye on the left side match her right eye in size. Last but not least but not least, because the fabric in her shirt was stretched out I smoothed it out to even out the darkness and remove elastics.


Youtube video by Adobe Creative Cloud this reminded me of:

There’s a famous saying in UX/UI design and usability engineering that goes “don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do” and my prof at UW used to always repeat this to us. I am now starting to understand the implications of this after pairing it with the work of Jan Chipchase. In chapter 5 he outlines a variety of concepts such as community trust, social norms, and even cross-cultural similarities/differences. When designing applications or interactive environments I often do exactly what Chipchase was denoting to throughout the article — that is to do field studies and take into consideration unique factors that apply to a group of people. Some of the places that he observes and extracts information from is chain restaurants/companies, hairdressers, the airport, and the inner streets of cities. I like how he mentioned the importance of sensory exploration. Sometimes we as designers forget that all 5 senses are important for good design ideation, not only what you see.

When I first arrived in Singapore I was overwhelmed by the number of regulatory signs that are at every corner of the country. I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, and we have restrictive laws but definitely not as many as I’ve seen here. For instance, while traveling on the MRT I’ve seen “no eating, and drinking” signs… which spacial designers then have to take into consideration so that they don’t place vending machines on-site near the trains. Whereas in Toronto this law does not apply so adding a vending machine wouldn’t be a bad idea, people would actually really appreciate it. Another example would be Wrigley’s Excel Gum, which is very well known in Canada but since there are laws around gum here in Singapore it wouldn’t be profitable nor legal for companies like them to expand to Singapore. Furthermore, we can even see a lot about Singapore’s culture through their bathroom system. In Toronto, you can find gender-neutral bathrooms in public malls and universities. In the span of 4 months, I have not seen one gender-neutral bathroom (not any that I can recall). In Toronto, they are constantly aiming to be an inclusive city — whether it be religion, disabilities, or sexual orientations. The same goes for Singapore but not at the level of seriousness of inclusion that I see in Toronto. Last but not least, Chipchase got me thinking about the level of trust in Singapore and I have to say it is quite high. I absolutely love the feeling of walking home at night or even crossing the street in broad daylight and not feeling like I’m going to die. I get the sense that this level of trust starts with respect, people here just respect all walks of life and are more mindful about preserving life.

While reading this article I was constantly reminded of my experience in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia which is home to Africa’s largest outdoor market. The renowned “Addis Mercato” (meaning “new market” – first half in Amharic, second in Italian) is a melting pot of culture/traditions from all over the Middle East and North-East Africa. Addis Mercato is comprised of over 7000 privately owned businesses that stretch over Kenya St. It was very chaotic but I loved learning about its rich history and shopping around. Near the end of page 17 of the article, it reads “what is crowded to some people may be cozy to others. How could perceptions of space be natural or anything but as socially constructed as the built environment? Not only is there a socio-political story behind the built environment, but its meaning and use keep evolving. And as cities become increasingly heterogeneous or democratic, understandings and ideas of space may clash.” This got my attention because it accurately describes the conflict happening right now in regards to Mercato’s future. The government along with many big real-estate companies are aspiring for a more “modern” Addis Abeba but fail to see the beauty of Mercato in all its mayhem. Every inch of the sidewalk is occupied with goods and services that attract thousands of customers daily, which intern help keep the families well off financially. It is very hard for these sidewalk vendors to stand their ground against those in authority, but there’s power in numbers so they are still negotiating. While I was there I saw many coffee shops — one of the major selling points is because coffee beans originated in Ethiopia so many tourists want to taste Ethiopian coffee, the first of its kind. Taking this into consideration it has now become more than just a market but a staple for Ethiopian tourism.

“Our shorthand definition for critical cartography is to “map the unmapped,” which included the physical sidewalks, the people on the sidewalks, and the social negotiation of this space .” I completely agree with this statement. Something I noticed while walking along those sidewalks is that there isn’t any sort of mapping established. Unless you have been coming there for years familiarizing yourself with the layout and on top of that trying to find a specific item is very difficult. The vendors themselves have verbally agreed to organize their shops in a specific way and since there are no written contracts it is subject to change quite frequently. Even google maps doesn’t show you a clear street view, but instead, a 360 camera shot taken in one location by a tourist is linked to the street. One thing that I would think would help is some sort of system that actually accounts for the amount of consumerism that occurs here. In addition, those in power can work together with the vendors to try to find a feasible and fair solution. At the end of the day, closing down the entire or even sections of Mercato would affect both the street vendors and the people that rely on vendors as their main source of food, clothing, fuel, and many more.

One thing I always have on me and somehow seem to remember more than my keys or phone is my Casio watch (model: A159WGEA-1EF). I used to have one similar to this one back in 2013 but it broke during my baseball practice. I found it so useful that I just recently purchased it again this past winter. In terms of aesthetics, the colors are black and gold and it has a very chic/modern look to it. Like any device, there are certain aspects that I love about it and there are also some that I don’t. First and foremost, I love how lightweight it is to wear and convenient it is to store away. The strap is also adjustable and has a fold-over-clasp that is very secure. Another thing I like about it is that the date and time are written in a font size that is legible from far. Something that a lot of tech gear doesn’t have is a water-resistant layer meaning you can not go swimming with it. Whereas with this watch I am free to wash the dishes or swim, worry-free. I appreciate the fact that Casio has incorporated an LED light button for low light settings – I find myself using this quite often. Basic functions of this watch are the alarm, timer, and stopwatch. Furthermore, the dial window material is made out of mineral crystal, which reduces scratches. The band is comprised of smaller metal parts that are woven together and can easily be stretched. Thus, if you have any sort of hair on your arms or wear it while tying up a ponytail, it hurts! The dials on the side are not intuitive, instead, they are quite confusing. I feel like I’m always referring back to the instruction manual or watching a YouTube tutorial every time I travel and change time zones. According to Norman, discovery and understanding are two of the most important parts of good design. I would say that discovery, in this case, is intricate because it’s difficult two figure out what combinations of buttons on the watch to click, and in what order, to perform specific tasks. The same thing goes for understanding, unless you have thoroughly read all the parts of the manual it’s going to take many trial and errors before you get it right.

Some of my favorite works of art are chairs. I love going to furniture stores or even looking at books on chairs by famous architects. One of my favorite chairs is the “Womb Chair” by Eero Saarinen (1948) because of its biomorphic design principles and contemporary style. Almost every day after my classes I sit on the bar stools, located in the ADM library, to do my homework. In terms of design, this chair is padded, has a back and footrest, and is covered in black synthetic leather. Moreover, regarding affordance, this object affords sitting and is very intuitive. On the other hand, it is evident that this chair was not designed for prolonged seating times. Hence why the sofas towards the back of the library are used more. Students can be seen sitting on those all day, and some even sleep there. But that is exactly why I choose to sit on the bar stools, because of its lack of comfort it is less likely for me to fall asleep from getting too relaxed. I find that I am not able to study or take notes on things like bean bag chairs for instance. Take the renowned ‘watchman’s chair’ or the MTA benches in New York City into consideration, these chairs were both purposely made uncomfortable, so users don’t abuse them or get too cozy. I’ve studied human ergonomics before and based on my research I would say that the design of this chair might cause back pain because of where the backrest cuts off. Not to mention, it is quite high up so my guess is that they took less then the 50th percentile of anthropetric data in Singapore to design this – or perhaps these were imported from elsewhere.
Side note – if you also like chairs check out The Design Museums “A Century of Chairs: touring exhibition” (available autumn 2019)


*separate from the no gps assignment*

My counter map illustrates the 5 stages on my journey to IKEA. Each hue corresponds to the emotions I felt, and the opacity represents how strongly I felt that emotion. For instance, when I was at The Arc I was quite confident then as soon as I got on the 179 I was a little less confident about directions, yet still calm.  Right before the end of my journey I got lost because I ended up walking 7 minutes in the wrong direction then turned back. Hence, the bold red colour representing frustration. I’m both a visual and text-based learner so I incorporated both concepts and made an informal map.

Destination: The Swimming Complex

Here are some pictures from my journey in order:


This past Monday after a long day of classes my friends and I decided to go swimming on campus. As exchange students, we’ve been trying to explore as much of this area as we can in the little time that we have. Unfortunately, I am only familiar with Hall 9 to the ADM building (off by memory alone), so this made it exceptionally hard to navigate without a GPS. Although, when I told my friends they were all up for the challenge! We all decided to meet up at North Spine, which was an anchor for us in terms of referencing our orientation.

In the center of North Spine, there is map outlining the facility and the departments within. The map had a “you are here” sign which we really appreciated because it allowed us to find our way to the bus stops. We figured the bus stop was the best option to help us move forward because there are maps near every single one. While walking to the bus stop I saw two exit signs; one near “Frank by OCBC” and the other by the “Global Lounge” leading us downstairs. There was a second orientation map while going downstairs and then again at the very bottom (at the bus stop). What I noticed is that the map at the bottom was flipped to the side, which was quite unusual for me because I have never seen it placed in a way that placed North Spine on the left side of the map. Regardless, we jotted down buildings with distinct features that could act as a reference for us while on the bus. For the most part, all I knew is that I had to be on the “red bus” for more than 5 stops because it was well past the Chinese Heritage Center.

While on the bus I noticed a sign saying Sports and Recreation Center, so I figured the Swimming complex must be in that direction. We got off the bus and proceed to walk up a hill, after passing the sign the road broke off into three possible routes for us to take. From my memory of the map, the path to the Swimming Complex was short so we decided to take the first left onto Nanyang Hill. While we were walking up I asked what seemed to be a construction worker who was coming down on the other side of the road what was up this street but there was a language barrier that made it hard to communicate. We continued to walk up and saw the building that said NTU Sport Shooting Club. We walked back down the hill and returned to the intersection. Then one of my friends saw another sign that said sports on it so we followed the next path along Nanyang Hill. As we approached the building there were three separate entrances so we went to the “General Office” to ask some clarification question on how to enter and the hours of operation. When we turned the corner the noticed that the general office sign was pointing to a gym of students playing sports. There appeared to be no general office on site. We decided to leave that door and proceed to walk to the next two entrances. This is when I saw a sign saying “Swimming Complex”. We were relieved, to say the least, because walking up Nanyang Hill had made us a little tired. I approached the front the desk and asked about the rules/important things to note while swimming here.

Finally, we were free to swim!

I felt that the signages were quite rudimentary and were not intended for a newcomer, but instead more of a person who has a general idea of their orientation. On the other hand, I do like how the design of the signages were all consistent – bold yellow font against the blue painted wood. My overall takeaways are that the campus is fairly confusing, there are lots of roads that meander, but I would not have difficulty if I studied the bus roots fully. I think by next week I should have everything memorized if I continue to keep touring around. One thing I would advise is having the maps along the bus root be identical to the orientation in real life (in terms of north, south, east, west). This was a very thought-provoking task and made me imagine what people back in the day did without technology – create a mental map with anchor points based on unique landmarks. This exercise also made me realize how dependent I am on my phone to navigate. It was nice to take a break from technology and analyze the placemaking design around campus through a different perspective.