Initial Thoughts

The work was presented about one arm’s length apart at eye level. At first glance, they resemble traditional fine art placement (of paintings mainly) but instead of one large piece, there were 10 different pieces spread across two walls. The fusion of acrylic painting and found material such as paper envelopes and cardboard gave the series a rather refined touch, contrasted by the off-centered text that dominated each of the paintings. I was really intrigued by the contrast, as it resembled a collage of sorts. Collages are well-thought albeit improvised (most of the time) pieces that reflect a person’s thoughts and personality. The text appears layered due to the cut – out pieces of magazines and tabloids.


Time Passes resonated with me in more ways than I could imagine. The exhibition showcased the transformation of everyday items, activities and spaces over the course of the pandemic. I’ve always wondered how things would change due to the pandemic. Will we ever be able to return to our ‘carefree’, mask-less and intimate ways of interaction that we have taken for granted? The answer is indeterminate. I enjoyed the series of artworks that encapsulated the concept of time and how time acts on the past and present. Re-expression of our beings, whether through subtle or drastic re-imagining of spaces and materials, continue to drape over the reality of our situation.

Of the many artworks present in the Time Passes exhibition, Mengju Lin’s series of 10 artworks invites us to look at the paintings with a new perspective. 10 coherent artworks, each having different names and texts (as listed above), are juxtaposed with varying effects and context.  Personally, I feel that there is no need for complication; the artists leaves us to define the objects in whatever way we like. There is no fixed solution, estranged texts brought out of context intentionally, allowing us to form our own interpretations and adapt our minds to the objects. Simplicity worked well for the artist, who sought to blend familiarity and novelty. As we hope for time to heal us from the pandemic, care and compromise have been exercised, albeit in a much different way from before. In light of this, our compromise create subtleties and nuances in future practices and it would be inappropriate to say that we can return/resume our normal lives. The new normal, though undesirable to most, is likely here to stay in either shape or form.


Chapter 1 from Kim Goodwin’s Designing for the Digital Age is extremely resourceful and insightful. He starts off by introducing his own definition of Design – it is a craft of visualizing concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints. He goes on to iterate his stance on how Design should be differentiated from Art, as they serve different purposes. He describes Art as a form of expression of the artists’ inner vision, whereas design is more about a realization and the manifestation of the tangible. From this reading, the biggest takeaway/impression that was left on me was the implication that great designers are thinkers. Thinkers that go beyond the simplicity of creating a product and exploring the outcome. In doing so, these successful designers are able to incorporate foresight into their composition and work backwards in finding the optimal solution for their clients.

Design is a craft because it is neither science nor art, but somewhere in between.

Design uses science that disguises itself as art to entice and produce outcomes that serve human needs and goals. I agree with his point on this – we cannot escape the fact that science is all around us and we inevitably borrow concepts from it to create projects. Sometimes, people may confuse the outcome of aesthetic satisfaction and pleasure as a art. Artists are bound by their ideation and their goal to achieve a certain impression on its viewers – be it abstract art or not.

Design always happens within certain constraints.

This is very apt as design always has an intended outcome – Goodwin states that pleasure and aesthetic satisfaction are also important human goals, the fact that design is tailor in a certain way restricts designers from exploring too wide and applying too many concepts into an approach. This will lead to the project going haywire, particularly due to it not being focused and engaging in too much experimentation – going beyond the budget of the project. Such is the matter of fact – we have limited resources in building designs, often we have to differentiate ourselves from architects and remove ourselves from the idea of building products. Instead, we build opportunities for our clients to close the gap in creating solutions.

Goal-Directed Design

I interpreted goal-directed design as working backwards, always keeping the end-goal in mind and moulding the design to fit the goals. As modern day designers, we tend to receive feedback only towards the end of our creative journey of a project. For Cooper, however, it was about the consistency of having a third-party perspective. To integrate this, they had created convincing personas that would lead them in the right direction and keep the designers in check. As designers, we tend to delve too deep into our works, lose our sense of direction and follow the lead of our intuition. By bringing in personas, they act as consumers/customers who are able to give unbiased opinions that are constructive. This elevates the design and helps it remain inclusive and versatile. Aligning our thought processes and rationale with the clients, it was create the opportunity for a successful product.

Concluding thoughts

As I would like to think, no two designs are the same. The end-product may appear similar, but the thought process, the methods in reaching the end-goals would be vastly different. Especially from the concept point-of-view, it is impossible to recreate two same projects through two separate entities. Though this reading takes on a more corporate view, the fundamental principles of design remains and a framework is drafted as an open source sharing, equipping us with indispensable knowledge in our future as designers.