Monthly Archives: August 2016

Assignment 1 Part 4: Response Reading

The Design of Everyday Things
Donald A. Norman

Reading the text enabled me to observe everyday objects in a more detailed manner. You wouldn’t have had realised that the design, shape and material of the everyday item has a meaningful purpose! I picked up some keywords utilised when making a product such as affordances, mapping, constraints and visibility. The terms cultivates the designer to not only design, but to also factor in the considerations of the user. If something were to look aesthetically pleasing but people find it hard at a glance for the object to function then it’s generally a failed design.

Question 1: The author delves deeper into ‘everyday things’ and mentions about 20,000 of them, right down to it’s parts. Although the book may have been outdated as it was published in 1988, and we are are comfortable with the idea of one button one function, the usage of the screen-based products such as smartphone has limitless functions (to call, to type a message, to play games, to watch videos, take pictures etc.)

As the author had also mentioned about combining multiple things together as a product and saying that it fails to sustain as an everyday object because it was too cluttered … In our future, would it be possible to take into account the use of screen-based technology to solve similar issues?

Question 2: Wouldn’t there exists a “universal design” whereby an object (e.g mug, ball) best remains as it’s original state and further actions done to it are only aesthetic?

Assignment 2 Part 2: Response Reading

Hidden in Plain Sight, “Calibrating your Cultural Compass”
Jan Chipchase

This chapter enabled me to critically analyse our way of life. What is most fascinating from the text is that Chipchase has incorporated varied perspective on certain topics which helps us to see the difference between our society and another’s. It has overall helped broaden my depth of thinking and wonder of the ‘other’ person in mind when it comes to designing experiences. However, he merely touches and go on these “everyday experiences” and did not really provide a framework on how to design and build such an environment.

Question 1: I particularly enjoyed the reading on signage. I do pay attention to its symbols but never realized of their underlying meaning. Chipchase presents his observations of the main language used in the signs, their usage of the icons and prohibited signs. He mentions that the signs “tells us more about the local culture”. However, I disagree with his views on the matter. Probably, from my point of view, the dollar sign “$” currency determines if the country is ‘westernized’. But, would legislative ‘By Law’ signs or even directional signs say much about a culture to help you design an experience?

Question 2: The approaches to observation takes place in different forms, what Chipchase has done in the chapter has largely to do with integrating within the culture by communicating with them and also distancing himself to view the bigger picture. But what if his observations are constantly distracted with previous misconceptions? If so, wouldn’t doing survey/ field tests be more of a qualifiable resource to design an experience?

Assignment 3 Part 1: Experimental map

Part 1 : 

Think of a way in which you could develop an experimental map using images, sounds and stories. Some ideas… What else would we use if we didn’t use maps to find our sense of place? How would you map the sounds you hear every day? How would you map emotions? How would you map the overlooked peoples or places of Singapore?


“A picture speaks a thousand words”, was one of my most remembered quotes from “The Princess Diaries”. Through oral examinations in primary school, where you had to go through a picture discussion component,  I thought about how much you can say about a picture alone. With so much going on, there’s definitely a 1000 words to go about it … But what if I take out all of the background details and give you a not-so-obvious picture?


I came up with an idea of having a blank background with a person silhouette. Accompanying this visual would be sound clips that you hear from the “everyday”. It could be from the typing/ printer noise from the office, to chatter and munching sounds in the hawker centre. By having a blank canvas, it allows for the person to add in ‘ideas’ based from their own experience.

Here are some noise clips I’ve recorded that would add on to the experience mapping. What do you think of them in relation to the picture?



Sound Clip 1: Chattering, “Hi Welcome”, Little tingling of utensil sounds and objects stacking heard. In reference with Visual: Man could be waiting at a restaurant for his friends to arrive.
Sound Clip 2: Exotic sounds and loud chattering. Man could be at a festival/exhibition event.
Sound Clip 3: Train sounds, minor chattering. Man is in the train, travelling.

With a few adjustments to these clips, or including more elements of noise, the viewer is able to grasp more details about what the figure in the picture is doing. There are much more possibilities for a still image to blend with a sound byte. However, I felt that this experiment could be highly dependent on the sound than the picture. I wondered how else can a person map themselves in other methods through images and stories, a sharp contrast by not having ‘sound’.

Books are one such example.
Thus, an interesting product (book) that came into mind was Xu Bing’s “Book from the Ground”. The author describes it’s cover as ‘from point to point’, which is also how the reader would comprehend the graphic novel. I thought that this could be a form of ‘image mapping’ as the reader understands the emoji (emoticons) and it’s underlying ‘story’ combined.








In the above pages, the ongoing story is that the man is preparing for his date. It’s really interesting that we are able to ‘read’ without using alphabets. But it also gets difficult, or tiring, as we are not used to translating a symbol to a word in a string manner.

I thought about the two ideas and if it could eventually match up to be a sequence based video on signs and sounds. An emoji of a man + the noise of a shaver immediately tells you a man is shaving, an emoji of a dog and sound clips of birds whistling reimagines the place of a park. So and so on.

That’s all for my sharing today.



Assignment 3 Part 2: Response Reading

Sidewalk City, “Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City”
Annette Kim

It is an incredibly well informed introductory chapter on the sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City. Even though they do not have the necessary tools to see and comprehend the events occurring near them, Kim and her team (consisting of Vietnamese and Americans) researched thoroughly into the subject, outlining the problems of it’s use of public spaces and property rights. At the same time, looking at it’s spatial ethnography and critical cartography. From a foreigner’s perspective, Kim states her processes on how she had cultivated a deep understanding for the Vietnamese way of life. I’ve drawn insights that we shouldn’t unnecessarily judge too quickly while conducting the research and to also interact with locals for a more qualitative result.

While I have not been to Vietnam, I would relate with the usage of sidewalks similar to the streets of Singapore’s Chinatown, where a road would transform into bustling food stalls at night. It is an avenue for people of all ages to gather and interact, and have a good time together. As much as it is to food, there are also stalls on the roads selling snacks and souvenirs.

Question 1: Shouldn’t there be a dedicated spaces to host sidewalk activities without being pressured by the local authorities in HCMC? Drawing some experience from Singapore where there’s a “Speaker’s Corner” at Hong Lim Park, served as a exclusive area for freedom of speech – I felt that Kim’s idea of constructing a “tourist’s map” would actually distance the locals from entering as it would be popularised, landmarked and crowded.

Question 2: With an upcoming generation of technology and e-services, to what extent would these sidewalk vendors thrive in the long run?