Diary of Behaviour


I woke up to the sound of my phone alarm. Immediately after, I went through all my notifications: emails, social media. Any important or urgent messages, I responded immediately, if not I waited until I have some free time.

Waiting at the bus stops affords, reading the news, going through different social media, checking the bus timing, reading unread messages, and answering them. At the bus stop, I could observe other people doing the same thing or playing games on their phone. I also listened to music whilst on the go.

I usually go to the library because it feels more conducive to work there. I worked on files which are synchronized to my cloud account (Google Drive…) and listen to music. Working on a cloud account allows me to access my files at any time and any place, on any devices. Hence, I can be productive anytime. Every now and then, I would sidetrack from my work and scroll through my Facebook feed: Watch some videos…

Throughout the day, I randomly checked my phone for notifications, to see if I got any new notifications. My daily phone usage is mainly social media, messaging, web browsing/web search, calendar, reminder, file managers (Google Drive…). And if I go off campus, I always make sure that I have a full battery and my mobile data running in case I need to use the GPS to find my way. Of all the applications I have on my mobile phone I would say that I use 30% of them on a daily basis. The remaining apps are more situational: like UBER; GRAB, Photo editing application…

Generally during lunch/dinner, I would abstain or limit my phone usage if have company. But if I am by myself, I would use my phone to entertain myself.

Before going to sleep, I have this ritual whereby I go through all the different social media to make sure I am up to date and check if my alarm is properly set for the next day. Since I was not going to use my phone the following day: I turned off my alarm and opened my curtains so that the sunlight could shine in my room and prompt me to wake up. In addition to that I asked my roommate to wake me up in case it did not work.



The day before I looked up Google maps for the direction to NUS and roughly memorized the route. Given the new boundary conditions, I brought a book with me to keep myself entertained during commuting, but I ended up sleeping. Once I reached Kent Ridge, I did not know how to reach to my destination. I asked my way to the people waiting at the bus stop and double checked the routes on the bus guide panels. Fortunately, on the shuttle bus, there was a screen that indicated the bus stop and a voice over of the location. I was already familiar with the campus, so it was not hard for me to know where to alight and navigate.

Because I was busy with activities that did not require any phone, computer, or electronic device throughout the day, I was not bothered at all. At lunch time, I was a in a group of friends, I did not feel the need of using any devices. Even with my mobile phone, I would barely use it if I had company. I generally use my phone to make contactless payment but this time I made sure I had cash on me, retrieved at an ATM the old-fashioned way

At the end of the day, I was so tired that my only concern was to catch up on my sleep, on the public transport and back to my hall of residence. Back


I realized that without my mobile phone I was more aware of my environment: looking for clues to navigate; attentive to what was happening around me… I also felt relieved because sometime when people send me messages, I feel pressured to answer because there is an expectation from someone. It is a psychological burden off my mind and I can better focus on the tasks that I have to do. But i always have the lingering paranoia of ‘What if something happens?’.

Response to: Interactive Environments & Experience Design by Timothy Nohe

Timothy Nohe gave an insightful presentation on Interactive Environments and Experience Design and shared some of his personal experiences and processes he went through for creating his interactive installation.

Timothy’ s interactive installation can be broken down into 3 steps: input, processing unit, output. The input is the users’ interaction with a touch sensitive box, which will then feed into the synthesizer which processes the data and outputs Visual Music (Electron Drawing), through speakers and a screen respectively. We were lucky to have an in-class demonstration. The 3 steps are condensed forms of a complex network of connections and wirings. I was confused when Timothy demonstrated how it ‘worked’. However, the actual installation is simplified in such a way that anyone can interact with it. This reminded me of the early computer system, which displayed only codes 0,1 or programming languages. But nowadays we have highly curated and crafted user interface that is understandable; comprehensible by everyone.

For his actual installation, Timothy made use of signifiers to indicate the affordances of the touch sensitive box. (Feedback: Visual Music- Electron drawing)

Timothy also highlighted the safety issues when operating those open-air installations and what are the important measures to be taken beforehand. Public liability, insurance should be established; equipment should be weather sealed so that it does not get damaged or poses any danger to the public; sound pollution to the surrounding should be assessed to see whether it is affecting the people or also the animals around.

Responding to Thoughtful Interaction Design: Examples of Product with Thoughtfully Designed User Experience

Responding to the reading, find 2 examples of a product/project that you think are good examples of thoughtfully designed user experience.

I think one of the most common user experience oriented product we use daily, is our phone. Let us take the iPhone for example, its operating system (iOS) and features. Pinch to zoom, swipe to unlock are classic examples of thoughtful designed user experience. The nature of the ‘pinch to zoom’ action is so obvious; effortless and understandable by everyone, it satisfies both the intention of the action and the expectation of the user. The ‘home button’, as the name suggests, is a self-explanatory feature that brings us to the main page of the iPhone, by a simple press. In the same line of thought, when the home button is pressed, the transition animation from an app to the home-screen, zooms out and vice versa. The transitions ease the user in and out an application and help to connect different nodes in the phone.

Even naming a feature in a product should be as intelligible as the feature so that the user can easily comprehend without going through a manual guide (tell-tale features). I think that Apple seamlessly bridges the iPhone’s digital interface with its physical features with design that is unobtrusive and human centered.

Image Source: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2013/11/12/how-steve-jobs-pushed-for-changes-in-android/


Another classic example of a good and thoughtfully designed user experience is the Japanese toothpick. As mundane as it can look, the function of a toothpick is very well thought. Serrated at one end, the toothpick can be broken at its tail. Doing so afford 2 additional purposes: the broken tail serves as a resting support for the used side of the toothpick (for hygienic purposes) and it can also signify that the it has been used. The experience extends beyond what the object can afford after a small alteration. Similarly, the user’s expectation about ‘what to do next’, after using the toothpick is justified by the intention of the serrated end. The design is simple yet thorough down to the details of the user’s experience.


Reflection: FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science

Future World explored 4 different types of narratives namely Nature, Town, Park and Space. We kickstarted the visit in an immersive installation called, “Crows are chased and the chasing crows are destined to be chased as well, Transcending space”. Through the 3-dimensional audio and light projection, I felt totally absorbed into the scene and as a result I got motion-sickness. The next installation was “Black Waves”, a therapeutic experience I would say. I realised that standing and lying on the beanbags gave 2 different experiences. As I stood, I could clearly see the limitations/ borders of the installation, and this reminded me of the real physical world whereas lying down on the beanbags, brought me closer to the art, blurring the separation between myself and nature. Seeing the waves from a lower perspective was more impactful and whelming.

Moving on to the Town and Park it felt like the space was designed by a child. As Takasu mentioned, their approach in designing these spaces was inspired by how children interact and see the world around them. Curious and intrigued, I found myself exploring this narrative like a child. Sketch town and Sketch aquarium were memorable experiences because it really boils down to how children use their imagination to create and make things come to life. The familiarity of the slide and the hopscotch, with added interactivity, invited children as well as adults, to rediscover the thrills of those classical childhood activities.

We ended the tour at the Space exhibit, Crystal Universe, a massive installation (2 tonnes!) of LED lights, all synchronized to create different space phenomenon which can be chosen by the user himself/herself through a web browser on their mobile phone.

Future world had an overall immersive; well-crafted interactivity that was relatable, understandable and intelligible. I also want to emphasize that sound also played a very important role in the installations. It complemented the visuals/projections; completed the installation and connected the dots between the different experiences. Future World shed light on some essential design consideration for the iLight project, like size; sound but also our position and condition in the space. For instance, some exhibits in Future World were best experienced (visually and aurally), at specific positions and this is an important consideration to keep in mind when designing the iLight proposal.

Response to: Previous iLight Festival Projects

  1. Sustainability is the prolonging of available tangible and intangible resources, for the generations to come. For instance, tangible resources can be things like fauna and flora… and intangible resources can be things like culture and economy. If we talk about sustainability and iLight, it immediately makes sense to think of energy saving.


  1. Horizontal Interference by Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Slugocki

This project caught my attention because it shows a certain level of sophistication in terms of light play. The artists used the reflective property of the material to indirectly show the effects of light. There’s an interesting symbiosis between the complex repetition of the colourful cords and the simple use/projection of light. In addition to that the ‘weightlessness’ attribute of the cords, makes the installation ‘dance’ because of the natural presence of the wind. I believe this installation is an effective design because of the honest interaction between nature and object; nature and men.


Featured Image Source: https://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Horizontal%20Interference

Response to: Chapter 4 of Hidden in Plain Sight: “You Are What You Carry” by Jan Chipchase

“You are what you carry”, was a comprehensive and thorough chapter, where we recall the idea of the phone, the key and the wallet as essentialities when venturing into the world. Strangely but interestingly, we tend to bring more things than the just essentials because of our providence nature for security, convenience, peace of mind… Especially when visiting a foreign country, I would make sure that I am ‘fully’ geared, in terms of technology and connectivity, so that I can be efficiently autonomous. Chipchase also brings up the concept of ‘range of distribution’ and how it differs between each country. I was shocked how Singaporeans comfortably leave their valuables unattended for prolong time period in public spaces, as a result of tough security measures of the country which gives a perception of low risk. Such things would not be happening in a different country. The good thing about low perception of risk is that it removes this subconscious paranoia of losing something, which can be liberating I must say. The Great Unburdening of digitization and cloud storage definitely reaffirms the ‘range of distribution’ by the omnipresence of facilities that shatters space time continuum or ‘yo-yo string’. With Amazon recently acquiring Whole foods, the prediction of Chipchase is becoming a reality: Supplies of groceries would be shipped to us by Amazon directly.

I believe that it is only a matter of time before everything gets connected and unified, especially with the growing trend of the Internet of Things. Space time continuum will change and things we carry and interact with, will constantly adapt to it.


Featured Image Source: https://herschel.com/

Response to: Anthropology of Mobile Phones by Jan Chipchase.

There was an immense leap in technology from back then and now, in terms of connectivity, services, and products but it always summed up to what Jan Chipchase said in his Ted talk. People still carry with them their phone, wallet and key. However, those 3 items are slowly converging into one form, which is the phone. E-banking, apple pay and other services are redefining the way we pay for stuff. We can see this combination too happening between the mobile phone and the ‘keys’. Smart lock that only requires your mobile phone ID to unlock, is gradually making its way into the market. The dynamics are changing with the advance of technology and like Chipchase said, we adapt, delegate to it. Likewise, our centre of gravity is ultimately shifting towards the mobile phone which is increasingly versatile nowadays. With everything becoming digitalized and mobile, we expose ourselves to new threats like cybercrimes. I believe that street will always innovate in a way we cannot expect. Such things can be seen with the mobile phone itself, even though companies are trying hard to make the latter beyond repair, people still find ways to tear it down and correct this. I once bought a repair kit for my own phone and repaired it myself.

Response to: Chapter 5 of Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow’s Customers by Jan Chipchase- “Calibrating Your Cultural Compass”.

The chapter of “Calibrating your cultural compass” by Chipchase was highly relatable, as a foreigner who moved abroad, i had to adapt to the new culture. Likewise, I agree that one can truly understand the culture of the foreign country by being in the actual context and by “going native” like Chipchase would say, make the learning and adaption faster. I never travelled a lot, but I can tell that when I left my country and reached Singapore, I became conscious of the differences and similarities between the two countries and I think that those helped me create an image of the new place.One interesting thing i learnt here was the language that share similar traits with my own.
I would say it is almost a reflex to be more careful and attentive to the new environment and by doing so we absorb lots of intrinsic and extrinsic information about our surrounding but time is a factor that desensitizes this reflex, as mentioned by Chipchase, “…we’ve long since absorbed the information and developed the habit of ignoring them.”.
Reading this chapter made me realize the importance of cultural identity and heritage and how they redefine the way we think and design. Not only did I discover a new culture but I also reidentified myself and felt a stronger sense of belonging to my own culture.

1. Cultural (mis)appropriation is unethical. “…a dip in the contextual-awareness pool can yield insights and inspirations.” Designers deal a lot with visual elements (colors, shapes, forms) and sometimes get ‘inspired’ by cultural heritage which contains lots of those key elements. So is it alright to get ‘inspired’ by other cultures and use those elements as part of a design on the basis of diversity and free expression?
2. Can a foreigner, who have indulged in a particular culture for a long time, fully learn and understand it as compared to a native or is it an ever-learning process for the latter?

Featured image credit: Edwin Koo for The New York Times. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/travel/in-singapore-drinking-in-the-kopitiam-experience.html?referer=https://www.google.com.sg/


Response on ‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Things’ from The Design of Everyday Things

Three teapots: as works of art in the window above the kitchen sink. (Author’s collection. Photo by Ayman Shamma.) Source: http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/emotion_design_at.html


‘The Psychopathology of Everyday things’ gave a more profound approach to design considerations which I usually abide to. As a design student, discoverability and understanding, unconsciously form part of the design thinking and process that I follow to conceptualize and design. Those terms were not properly defined prior to the reading but were internalized and naturally occurring. I had this misconception that ‘good design’ only applied to tangible objects that were intelligible and intelligent in form and function. But I came to realize that design itself extends far more than just the physicality of an objects, like the book indicates. And as I go further into the reading, I can see how human centered design plays a bigger role in ‘good design’.

One cannot deny the fact that human-centered design or user experience design has drastically grown in demand, because it has become a norm, people nowadays expect things to be well designed. “People are frustrated with everyday things. From the ever-increasing complexity of the automobile dashboard…”, this statement is now fairly obsolete as per the new standards. For instance, the brand-new Tesla model 3 car offers no instrument cluster, a clean dashboard, a refined digital interface to control the car and maximized space efficiency, everything to cater for the needs of the user. But then again, as human beings, we are never satisfied fully.

The affirmation of products having too many functions and controls is/was a reality, one example I can remember was the TV remote control. Many buttons and many functions but nobody ever understood how it all worked. However, this was the past, nowadays we see remote controls, clean as a pebble, sleek, sophisticated, and minimal. Like Dieter Rams would say, good design is, as little design as possible. Digitization made analogous product more user-friendly and more functional at the same time. Ultimately, an increase in functionality will also increase the design challenges which are now in a digital form.

We shall not wait long before Artificial Intelligence gets implemented into machines and takes over the digital platform. Even the complexity of human nature could somewhat be paralleled by this new technology. Human-machine interaction would be more seamless and designs more efficient and effective. I believe that AI may replace us designers one day.

Finally, I can say that, given the complexity of human nature and how we keep on evolving, human-centered design is ever-changing too and so will the benchmark of what defines ‘good design’.

Field Trip: Harvey Norman

Objective of the field trip: To gain an insight on existing products; identify trends and products of interest

  1. Down memory lane

The products lining up the front space of the store were retro inspired. Pastel coloured and boxy forms, we were down memory lane. Those products are emotion biased because they instill in people a feeling of nostalgia.

2. Organic forms

In contrast to the retro inspired product, what can also be seen as trendy are organic/ smooth forms.

3. Products of interest

A range of products that caught my attention are the shavers from Braun. What i like particularly about Braun is their consistency in design. They improve their design but keep the same language. By doing so, they build on they brand identity. Braun products are generally function dominant.


Marshall speakers are often identified because they look like traditional vintage speakers made out of wood and brass analog buttons.

The new speakers are more organic in form and generally vibrant in colour.

Contemporary reinterpretation of the classics. Form reminds us of vintage speakers which looks boxy but the colour screams modernity.