Skip to toolbar

CategoryMy Work

Research and Documentation Process

Presentation & Research 1:

Research 2:

Fashion in the past, now & future:


The history of modern fashion industry with different designer labels began in the 19th century with Charles Fredrick Wroth who was the first designer to sew his label into the garments he created.

In the past, clothes were made from plants, animal skins, and bone. They started off merely to provide covering and protection. Fashion as we know it now, was used to have a control over policing women’s bodies, a mere tool of patriarchal oppressions.

This was practiced by different cultures with a variation for each. Women also had dress codes and its trends were the earliest forms of control over their dressing. Such an example is in relation to the veil they used to distinguish their availability; married from  unmarried ones

Since the days of ancient Rome, women and men’s cloth drapery signified different class hierarchies. This distinction was to communicate to men who they could violate.

In Mesopotamia, appointed male judicial officers who were elected, were the ones who had to inspect the women’s clothes to ensure they looked chaste in public. At the time, women were veiled. It was during this time where it was the woman’s duty to avoid male attention by shielding her face and body.  This has been generationally passed on up till today, though less obvious. A few hundred years later, the idea of hijab, which translates to “veil” or “seclusion”, was introduced in the Middle East.

In China, bounded feet were an example of a practice that limited women and caused disfiguration and infection, just for the sake or marketability for marriage into well-off families. The condition of her feet meant that her mobility was limited and the option of marrying into a rich family would allow a life of leisure and no work of hard labour.

In the West, corsets were the most well-known fetishes that started becoming popular from the 16th century. It helped create the ideal figure of a woman which also subconsciously limited women in their actions. During this era, women who wore trousers were considered aberrations; an outcast.

However, as much as it was a catalyst of oppression, it has been equally utilised as a revolutionary way for women to be empowered through liberation.


Up until the 19th century, there was no distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear. All garments made were made-to-measure pieces by seamstresses and dressmakers, dealing directly with the client.

These household dealings came to a halt when storefronts started selling ready-to-wear clothing.

Coco Chanel played a crucial role in the hallmarks of women’s liberation. She almost single-handedly transformed the landscape of womenswear in the 20th century with the infamous Chanel tweed skirt-suit; a more masculine silhouette allowing for greater movements. Coco Chanel donned her own pieces and strut about in her trousers in public, which at the time and up until recently in 2013, prohibited women from wearing trousers. This was in Paris.

The precedent set by the flappers of the 1920s, the ever-so-popular Hollywood stars like Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich allowed for the embracement of apparels that were once restricted by modes of propriety. Menswear then became popularised by celebrities and normalised into the woman’s wardrobe.

Diminishing sartorial modesty and propriety became a mission for many women over the years in the 20th century, and the years after. The short labour supply in the Second World War escalated the rights women had. Denim, jumpsuits, boots, and slacks rose in popularity.

The end of the war saw a regression into the traditional gender roles as husbands returned to the workforce and women went back home. This was a period of exaggerated femininity that spurred Christian Dior’s new look of extravagance and glamour; Cinched-in bar jacket, full A-line skirt, etc

YSL introduced their iconic pantsuit for women that incorporated straight-legged trousers, a tailored jacket, an organza shirt, a bow tie and a wide satin belt which readjusted the dress codes for women again, which was not welcomed by many as it broke traditional order.

The 70s and 80s blurred the line between the distinction of menswear and womenswear as powerful suits became stylish and not just a garment to express voice.

The 80s and 90s saw a great exaggeration of femininity and sexuality.

Shortly after, grunge and punk took over in the 90s that normalised flannels, ripped jeans and graphic tees that brings us to many of the casual wear you see around today.  Girly signifiers were spotted by many as well where they donned lace, the colour pink and hearts.

Street style in 2000s was an indicator that showed a more relaxed fashion as compared to before. There is now a plethora of styles for women to choose from. The different feminist movements throughout the years have also brought about a bravery and enlightenment for many women to celebrate their bodies and exude feminine energy through their daily wear in whichever style they deemed suitable.

Although sartorial attachments and propriety in clothing are very much still present where the dictation of a women’s dressing and their bodies are still objectified and frowned upon, we have to acknowledge how far this has come from before.


“A hairstyle made from water, a dress that alters its shape according to sound: these are all possible” – Rachel Stott

As technology takes over and given the fact that it has long been incorporated in couture pieces and even dailywear with the obsessions with techwear, it is inevitable that technology slither its way into the fashion world more and more in years to come.

“Increasingly, we will see digital collections and garments free from physical and creative restrictions become part of the fashion landscape” Stott.

Wearable technology have been popularised by many fashion designers such as Iris Van Harpen and Ying Gao.

The gaming industry will also be having influence as they already are, in the fashion world where the two may influence one another. Projecting fashion through AR vision may also be normalised in the future that will eventually converge digital and physical realms.

However, it is more than likely that fashion will continue to retain its identity as a form of escapism and expression, particularly as planetary conditions get more difficult. (modelled from The Great Depression that saw a great deal of glitz and glamour). Fashion will remain a a reflection of the society, its struggles and its endeavours.


Culture chosen: Arab

Possible concepts:

  1. Femininity– wearable to emulate & represent female energy (Pure, romantic, nurturing, soft, demure)
  2. Anxiety – wearable to simulate the feeling of living with anxiety/panic attacks/ play of how it seems to the people around you vs you  
  3. Depression – wearable to depict and portray how it is living with depression/ jail of the mind & emotions

Incorporating culture: eg. How the idea of traditional arabic wear creates anxiety in the modern world/ radiating feminine energy through the idea of hijab or through the emulation of arabesque elements that are not usually celebrated

Chosen Concept:

Anxiety & Femininity

What is the role, function or purpose of fashion or clothing in the past, now and in the future? Think about current or past cultures, traditions or craft in fashion, clothing or wearables and how can they be applied 30 years from now. Your design should reflect or represent elements of traditional clothings and used as a form of storytelling for potential applications in the near future, i.e. in 2050.

 Context of use, purpose & future relation: 

  • The Evil Eye/ Conservative Nature/ Negative Perceptions of Mental Illness

Context: The Arab culture, much like many Asian cultures, don’t advocate for mental health. They are still quite backdated in mindsets. A lot of psychological issues are linked to The Evil Eye. Evil Eye is a curse placed by people around you (close or not), when they are envious of you, your lifestyle or the things you’re achieving. Although this is mentioned in the holy scripture, which I do believe, I feel like we should still advocate and provide help for those in dealing with it so that they know they can reach out when they need to. Especially in the current times where mental illnesses are affecting the younger ones as well. 

Purpose: I want to help create awareness within the Arab community regarding the risks of mental health and to acknowledge this as an illness, which should be treated and hold the same decree as a physical illness.   

  • Stereotypes & Negative Connotation of Arab wear

Context: Due to the perpetuation of Media, the world in general have made negative formulations of ideas when it comes to the Arabic culture. They tend to associate the garments with those adorned by terrorists. They also view the women as being oppressed due to their “excessive” coverage. 

However, Arab women, Muslim or not, adorn traditional garments to celebrate modesty. Unfortunately, the globalised stereotypes are dominating over the real meaning of arabic clothing. It creates a tension and anxiety for the wearer and observer. For the observer, they fear the intentions of the women in traditional clothing of their associations to the despicable terrorist. For the wearer, in this current times where women are attacked for donning their traditional and religious outfits. It definitely creates anxiety when they go out in public. 

Purpose: I want to bring awareness to this and celebrate the Arabic culture & heritage. I want to marry Western elements to Arabic elements to unite the two since this tension is more apparent between the Western world and the Arab world. I also want to highlight the feminine energy in the piece since Arab women are understood by outsiders to be oppressed when they are celebrating their own freedom in femininity with modesty.  I want to depict them as demure, soft and pure beings, a stark contrast from their portrayal in the media and the perceptions that some people have formed on them.


Guide to Arab Clothing:
Stereotypes Verdict Correct Explanation
All arab women wear hijab FALSE Muslim women wear hijab on their own accord
Hijab is a headscarf TRUE & FALSE Hijab is also a general terms for modest attire including head covering

4 main areas of Arab Clothing: 

North Africa, the Levant, the Gulf & Sudan


Morocco – djellaba, kaftan

Tunisia – sefsari

Algeria – karakou

Libya – haik, holi

Egypt – gallabya



Jordan – niqab, jilbab, khimar 

Palestine – mostly western

Lebanon – sherwal (using) 

Syria – hijab, jilbab, abaya, niqab, thob



Saudi Arabia – niqab, gloves

Qatar – al-darraa

Kuwait – dara’a

Bahrain – abaya

UAE – abaya

Oman – abaya, dishdasha, lahaf

Yemen – balto, lithma, sitara


4. SUDANthobe, hijab

Summary: Clothing in the Middle East are a fashion statement just like the West, but it has a stronger social and moral dimension. It reveals things about region, personality, social class, moral values. 

Generally, women who don’t don hijabs are considered more open minded and considered to have fewer morals than women who don them. Women with hijab are classified as more religious and have higher moral ground. 

In recent years, Western fashion have crept into Middle Eastern fashion and result in loss of cultural identity in time to come. Though many countries have adopted western fashion, there are some who still hold on to their traditional attires like Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Embroidery & Beading in Arabic culture

Plant-based motifs – floral*, vegetation, arabesques* (foliage, tendrils, plain lines), carnation, pomegranate motifs (symbolised fertility)

Textiles – embroidery with silver and silk thread on wool, gold thread 

Natural themes – birds

Stitching – eyelet stitching*, blanket stitch, buttonhole stitch, whitework (white thread on white ground), smocking

Geometric pattern

*BOLDED ONES are to be used in the final 

Inspiration in materials & TEchnique


Silk Organza – I wanted a more flowy silhouette to play with the idea of femininity which to me means soft, demure and more romantic textiles. In addition, the silk organza plays with the idea of projecting a false front for someone dealing with anxiety which brings the context in as well. Anxiety looks calm and normal from the outside but for the person dealing with it, internally, it is hectic. Hence, by using silk organza, it projects out that concept of putting up a false front. The hectic feedback that happens internally, will be projected through the technology part of the dress instead of the silhouette.

Applique/Lace – This is to illustrate and draw inspiration from the Arabic elements of beaded motifs and embroidery


Curved Hem with fishing line and zigzag stitching


Application of lace as applique

Structuring top with fusable interfacing

Gathers of sleeve


Pulse sensor

Lilypad LEDs

Sound with Heartbeat

How it works:

Pulse sensor will trigger the Lilypad LEDs. 3 readings are set on loop, Slow, Medium and Fast Heartbeat. The LED will blink in sync with the  heartbeat of the wearer and the sound of the heartbeat that is pre-recorded will be played according to the triggers.

Concept Sketches & Prototype

First Sketch

Second Sketch



Third Sketch



My Biomimicry Research & Reflections

Task 4: Deliverable 2_Final Artwork


Name of Company: One United Nation

Purpose: To spark conversations and create awareness regarding racial issues in Singapore.

Campaign: Serve as an activist that aims to conduct the 3-step activity programme in schools, offices and other gatherings or social events: 

  • Step 1: Briefing regarding company, campaign & racial issues, Q&A or thought-sharing session & briefing of board game instructions
  • Step 2: Board Game Play
  • Step 3: Debrief, Reflection, Q&A or thought-sharing session, Brochure & Pin handout

My last deliverable is meant to be handed out after the game play. It’s part of the 3-step process of the campaign where the One United Nation comes down to schools/offices to conduct the activities. This brochure is meant to officiate the players as official ambassadors of the #racialequality movement.

The Brochure is perforated at the dotted lined areas which means that the brochure is sealed to which then users may tear off the perforated areas and reveal the brochure inside that also encases a pin. Users may also play with the perforated parts on the page to create images like the ones shown below.

Deliverable 2: Brochure & Pin


Outer (Right) & Inner (Left) before perforation.


Pin to be inserted inside brochure:


Task 1A: Exploring the What, Why, Who and How


1. Issues & Challenges in the world today

Ethnic Discrimination/Colourism/Racial Stereotypes have been a part of my life since the day I was born “coloured” in this multi-ethnic country in Singapore. It has become a norm and something that could sometimes be passed of as casual racism and other times, led to more serious issues  like the ease of finding a job due to preconceived notions of my racial stereotypes. This happens with my other minority counterparts as well. Though admittedly, in Singapore, it is not as apparent as other countries, it is still an issue that exists but hidden. I would love to shed light on this matter and attempt to take a step to make a difference.

  • Environmental Sustainability

Singapore is one of the leading technologically advanced cities yet faces an alarming sustainability problem, in this case in particular, I’m more interested in food wastage. Undeniably, Singaporeans love food. However, food wastage here increases our carbon footprint tremendously, especially for a small island that is already in scarce of land.

  • Loss of Cultural Identity

A huge part of a sense of belonging is a sense of cultural identity that you associate with. Not entirely your own ethnic culture, but also a sense of national culture. Due to the influx of foreigners and consumption of western media, Singaporeans are on the brink of losing our cultural identity which is of importance as it can actually provide a sense of pride that unifies the country. The warmth of a culture should not be underestimated as a nation as it does affect the way policies  are shaped and the way we communicate and treasure living here.

  • Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault

Not a credible source but this provides screenshots of how the public reacted to the victim

These things are getting out of hand in Singapore and cases are growing by the numbers. It is a problem that has to be brought up and actually talked about because as a woman in this digital society, a safe space is needed for one to feel empowered. Singapore prides itself in being safe but unfortunately, things like these still do take place and reason being that there needs to be stricter punishments put in place to deal with it. For example, the recent case of the NUS student getting away with the molestation case (last link) due to his “potential to excel in life” is downright upsetting for the victim and also the public. More often than not, when the public do hear about these cases, they would be quick to judge and form questions like, “What was she wearing?”, “What was she doing at out at night?”, “Why was she drinking at night?”. These are unsound judgements and shows the lack of empathy and ignorant mindsets that the public do have and needs to be tackled. Support needs to be provided for victims. In addition to that, people need to be aware that this also happens to men. Regardless of the gender, there are many cases that still go unreported.

  • Obsession with being “white”

It’s weird how in the Western countries, the beauty department stores are filled with tanning products whereas in Asia, it’s filled with whitening products. Living in Asia all my life, I have had more than several comments growing up about being tanned, either from my family, relatives, friends, colleagues or strangers. Many of my other tanner skin friends do experience this as well, regardless of race. The obsession with being fair in Asia generates a multibillion dollar industry of dangerous whitening products that contain high levels of unsafe bleaching ingredients such as hydroquinone and mercury. A lot of these preferences resonates from colonialism, backward culture and lack of representations in advertisements which distort beauty standards.

After much thought and research of reading articles online, I was more drawn to the issues relating to Ethnic Discrimination (Inclusivity/Inequality/
Ignorance) as well as Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault due to the reasons below. I am torn between two at the moment but will make a decision after consultation.

2. Why is it important, who does it affect and how? 

Ethnic Discrimination (Inclusivity/Inequality/Ignorance)

I’ve been living in Singapore for all of my life and have been a minority for all of it. Hence, I’ve a few sentiments through experiences growing up and day to day occurrences that I do deal with and a lot of my other minority friends deal with that I feel can be brought to light. This was heightened as I delved deeper into reading online articles and forums during my research.

As much as things are slowly changing now, it’s not changing fast enough and ignorance still largely exists, intentional or unintentional. Especially with recent racial tensions, I feel like this topic would be of relevance to dive into to  shed light to the underrepresented and under-appreciated minority groups.

If this topic is not addressed, I feel like I’m being of disservice to my fellow minority groups. My intentions is definitely not to create more division but to unite all ethnic groups and reduce colour discrimination and racial stereotypes. Though it might be something that people see on social media from time to time, I feel like in Singapore context, it is not being celebrated as largely enough as it is in other countries where racial discriminations are more transparent. In Singapore, it’s very much hidden, hence why ignorance do exist and still largely practiced or believed my many. The purpose I’m focusing on is not to change immediately or to have everyone agree to disagree. It is, however though, for people to acknowledge that this is a problem and not just something that happens occasionally that makes the media. Just hearing people out can make that much of a difference. Having a voice = Empowerment. Addressing this issue may or may not lead to any changes but any step is better than taking no steps at all.

Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault

This topic has always been on the radar for me. However, recent headlines that made the official papers in Singapore have become a real concern or rather, they were based on more solid facts. It is upsetting that it had to come to it making the headlines before it having a real impact.

Anyway, dealing with the situation as of now, upon reading many comments from netizens and eavesdropping on conversations amongst the older generation along with sentences for these criminals, it is rather discouraging. More often than not, the headlines or angles taken in these articles do not shed light to the horrific situation the victims went through, rather, the focus is more on the accuser(s)/criminal(s). Arguably, that is what the public wants to know and that is what the public shall get right? However, this very much so leads to comments and judgements being passed that accuses the victims instead. Though everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I feel like we could be more sensitive and have more empathy to victims. Furthermore, sentences passed on to these criminals should be more strenuous and not have a qualified state judge to consider the qualification as part of the decision to sentence the criminal. That is an injustice. A crime has been committed and it should he or she should be treated as any other criminal, regardless or race, religion or qualifications. Those things SHOULD NOT matter. Furthermore, outreach programmes or readily available schemes should be offered to victims. I want to give them a voice because a lot of cases do go unreported and this could lead to potential problems such as mental health.

3. Who do I need to communicate to and why? 

Ethnic Discrimination (Inclusivity/Inequality/Ignorance)

Target audience would be the younger population in Singapore because the the mindset of older generation is pretty much impaled and deep-rooted. However, the younger generation is the future and can make a bigger difference. Regardless of race, religion, social group, location, this caters to the masses, but will have an inclination to be received better by the minority groups. I think this is very much a needed movement for me as a millennial to take a stand in what I believe in and to provide a platform for communities that are discriminated against, intentionally or unintentionally. I do anticipate a backlash as I intend to experiment with controversial ways of communication but I do hope to do it in a tasteful manner.

Nonconsensual Intimacy/Outrage of Modesty/Image Based Assault

Target audience would mainly be the victims to provide them with a voice but also aiming at the large population to respond to the issue to spark deeper conversations rather than having mindless comments passed on the internet by ‘keyboard warriors‘.  I hope to offer empowerment to the voiceless victims who have had to suffer the consequences with or without support and this is largely needed to at least attempt to give these victims a helping hand if they were made to believe that their feelings were invalid.

4. How has visual communication contributed to address the cause? 

Ethnic Discrimination (Inclusivity/Inequality/Ignorance)

Serie A anti-racism campaign

With racial campaigns, it can go south really quickly. For example, a Serie A anti-racism campaign where the artwork was produced by artist Simone Fugazzotto to speak against the racism in Italian football. This happened in 2019 which is just in December last year. Serie A chief executive Luigi de Siervo was leading the campaign with the artist mentioned above. The campaign was released during a news conference via a series of images on screen for the Serie A anti-racism campaign. This created a major backlash. The reason why I featured this was to remind me to more mindful when making decisions or artworks so as to not offend the majority.



Shortly after President Trump signed off to close borders to refugees, Airbnb released an ad during Superbowl called, “We accept” in 2017 where it showed montages of difference nationalities with words, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

I strongly appreciate the representations of multiple ethnic backgrounds and the way Airbnb stepped forward to provide support for the refugees in a way that did not divide but rather, to unite. I personally believe that campaigns that are inclusive garner better engagements and are generally well accepted compared to those who are targeted at a specific group of people as it may potentially lead to division.

Appropriateness: The images were clean and subjects were strong which brought out their different features which then highlighted their differences which further emphasised their campaigns that at the end of the day, we are of the human race and should be seen and treated as such. Fonts were clean and matched Airbnb’s minimalistic aesthetics and general branding font.

Clarity: Format, coherence and legibility of the video was clear with minimal text which made it easy to understand. Although the logo at the end is always a branding PR tactic, I strongly feel that this also helped the public to recognise organisations that do support and embrace everyone.

Engagement: 30 second video was perfect, it was quick, easy to follow. However, in terms of innovative quality, I feel like it was a more general and common way of showing how these representations are normally done. So in that sense, I feel like it is not very innovative but I do have to acknowledge that human portraits usually do make bigger impacts, at least according to what I understand and how some of my fellow peers consume media.



The particular movement I wanted to highlight from Amplifier is the, ‘We the People’ nonpartisan campaign, launched in 2017. It aims to spark conversations regarding American identity and value via art and sharing of stories.

I really appreciate how they produce images that challenges the norm and what most may consider, controversial, to shed light to the topic and the rising hatred, bigotry and intolerance in America. Images speak volume and in this digital day and age, many people do consume art easily and controversial art garners the most attention, both by people who agree and people who don’t.


Appropriateness: Therefore, given the above, this campaign definitely reached their aim of igniting debates and starting conversations regarding this topic, both positive and negative. Granted, that in Singapore, such campaigns might never be approve as the freedom of speech is not appreciated here as it may create racial tensions, however, the idea could still be applied in my project. The artworks were very stylistic and style was accredited to Frank Shepard Fairey.

Clarity: The images used strong, clear and made use of semiotics such as visual metaphors, analogies etc.

Coherence: The images produced so far has been consistent in terms of stylistic approach which is essential to create coherence and create impact and longevity.


Topic Chosen: Ethnic Discrimination (Ignorance, Inequality & Inclusivity)

Issues in relation to ethnic discrimination that I may want to highlight:

— Work Opportunities & Discrimination

— Ignorance to minority cultures, celebration, stereotypes, archetypes (especially in advertising)

— Having to conform unknowingly sometimes due to things like “Chinese speaking candidates preferred” or having to fit in a majority race dominated environment

— Inclusivity and not Exclusivity

This is a concept that means that minority races want to feel included and it should not feel like a favour through exclusivity.

— Cultural insensitivity

Statistics Research in Singapore:

These were findings from Channel NewsAsia – Institute of Policy Studies on Race Relations by Matthew Matthews, a Senior Research Fellow at IPS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy National University of Singapore.

Full Credits to:


  • Sample obtained through stratified random sampling of dwelling types (Malay & Indians were oversampled to ensure sufficient minority representation)
  • “Drop-off pick up” method (predetermined prospective household having eligible respondents to complete questionnaire on their own, which was available in all 4 official languages)
  • To eliminate biasness, envelopes were sealed before passing it over to surveyor
  • Only Singaporean residents (citizens of PRs) above 21 years old

Is success meritocratic in Singapore? 

  • Nearly 90% agreed that hard work equates to equal opportunity to be rich despite race
  • 53% believed that being majority race was advantageous (perception more acute among minorities)
  • 1/3 believed interests of majority race should be looked after
  • 30% felt races were getting too demanding about their cultural rights

Race & Policy

  • 70% found various policies to safeguard racial & religious harmony to be helpful in building trust between races & protecting minority right
  • 85% acknowledged Racial Harmony Day fostered inter-racial trust
  • 2/3 did not favour race-based public information when it came to crime, educational performance or social problems


  • 90% endorsed respect, equality & value for people of other ethnic groups
  • “Most respondents report interacting with those of other races in a variety of settings such as attending an ethnic celebration, taking an interest in understanding the culture of those around them and making friends from other races. However it is impossible to judge the depth of these interactions.”
  • Nearly half agreed with statements that have associations to people of different races with negative characteristics (44% agreed to, ““People from some races are more violent than others” & 46% agreed to “People from some races are not friendly”)


  • 53% viewed racism as problem of the past
  • 74% viewed themselves as hardly/not racist
  • 40% have close friends that were at least mildly racist
  • 70% found outright discrimination to not be acceptable and saw it as racist
  • 48% felt that not having friends of other races was racist

Racial Preferences

  • Across races, racial preferences exist in finding partners, business partners or to share problems with, political leaders
  • Respondents were more open to a Singaporean Chinese President compared to smaller number who accepted Singaporean Malay or Singaporean Indian President
  • AMONG MALAYS: 94% Malays would accept a Singaporean Malay President, 84% would accept a Singaporean Chinese President
  • AMONG CHINESE: 96% would accept a Singaporean Chinese President, 59% would accept a Singaporean Malay President

Differential Treatment & Experiences 

  • 2/3 of Malay & Indian respondents who experienced ill treatment claimed race was the basis of it.
  • AMONG MALAYS: 44% felt that they were negatively treated based on religion & income/education
  • AMONG INDIANS: 62% felt negative treatment due to colour of skin and race
  • “While many minority respondents attributed the negative experiences they had encountered to race, comparatively fewer felt that they had experienced racial discrimination. Possibly, the notion of “racial discrimination” connotes a much more negative experience which surpasses the types of differential treatment they perceived. “

Discussing Race

  • 2/3 noted that discussions of race were unsettling in that it could be offensive and lead to tension
  • Half (incl minorities) agreed that minorities are being over-sensitive about racial issues

My views:

In light of this, I went to read up on forums on different experiences of minorities from different ethnic background and tried to also find comparable experiences of the majority race in Singapore.

Obviously we are all protected by overt racism in Singapore. However, covert racism is what’s causing the harm and the “less-than” feeling as minorities in Singapore. Yes, I do agree that the government do take racism very seriously and that those who do shall be punished for it. However, what people in general lack to acknowledge is the impact that it brings to the victims of these covert racism. Identifying explicit racism is generally more agreeable by most but Modern Racism may not be detectable or outwardly recognised, especially by the majority race. This may come intentionally or unintentionally. According to the survey conducted above by Matthew Matthews, racial biasness such as the example of a much higher percentage of Malays being accepting of a Singaporeans Chinese President in comparison to the Chinese respondents having a lower percentage in acceptance of a Singaporean Malay President are proofs that covert racism do exist whether people realise it or not.

I am more concerned in regards to the impact it may have on job opportunities, the racial tension, ignorance, insensitivity and the prejudice that comes attached to a person’s ethnicity.


Because continuity of this would amplify racial disparity and create separation between races rather than unite them for a more harmonious living condition. Silence is still ignorance.

— SAP Schools & Conformity

Before research, I was not aware that an advantage was given to students taking Higher Chinese to enter into SAP schools that are deemed to be the more elite schools in Singapore. I was however, aware of SAP schools being predominantly Chinese and are based on Chinese values and traditions.

Hence, upon research, I discovered that:

These were screenshots from an article by Straits Times. It is understandable and respectable that the purpose of these schools are to preserve the traditions, values and language of the Chinese community since less and less youths in Singapore are in touch with their roots. However, the underlying problems of such schools are deeper than just the fact that it is only a small percentage of the schools available in Singapore.

Firstly, these SAP schools have high admission requirements and are very selective in nature. They are also given the advantage with government policies that celebrate their elite status. For example, when the government introduced educational streaming, only nine schools that were placed in the “Special” stream, the top educational caste, were SAP schools. Another example was that SAP schools were pilot schools for Integrated Programme (IP),  such that of the 18 IP schools in Singapore, seven of those are SAP though they only make up 7% of secondary schools.

Other examples of advantages gained by SAP school students were the targeted government resources available where an example would be the Bicultural Studies Programme introduced. It included trips to China to profit from rise of China. These programmes were made available to SAP schools only.

Disparity in ethnic representation in Public Service Commission (PSC) is evident in that 90% of them are Chinese. All President’s Scholars and Uniformed Scholars were Chinese. SAP school students managed to get the scholarship almost every year without fail since 1978.

Perhaps what is more concerning is the fact that SAP schools get access to activities like, “Political Leaders Attachment Programme” for students to build rapport with politicians. Special resources and “Scholarship Day” are available for SAP school students to also prepare to be leaders of the nation.

These advantages are great for these students. Hence, these opportunities should be extended to minority groups as well. However, since they barely are, it is clear that students from SAP schools do get a higher advantage and lead when it comes to being part of the elite system and educational and networking opportunities. In turn, this leads to underrepresentation in the system in terms of ethnicity also due to the lack of access to equal opportunities.

In addition to this, SAP school students are more than likely to be less aware and exposed to students from other cultural backgrounds which can lead to insensitivity and this is highly concerning, especially when some of these students are more than likely to be future generation leaders of Singapore that are not able to grasp the point of view of minority races.

— Inclusivity issues in representation, celebration of festivals by different ethnic groups are not as grand as CNY

— Casual Racism

The act of passing slightly racist remarks, more often than not, not directed to hurt the other party of the receiving end. Fitting people into archetypes is also a form of casual racism and having prejudicial mindset towards a race or being unintentionally or intentionally exclusive based on race, covertly.

Growing up a person of colour in Singapore context, I feel like I was opened to these types of casual racism. There were times where I had to prove my worth to educators just because I fit into a certain box other than the majority. I felt bounded and felt that I had to work twice as hard sometimes. Apart from that, I have been tailgated by shop employees and it felt physically uncomfortable. I was also made aware of the unequal opportunities that exist due to the colour of my skin in certain fields. There are a lot of experiences that I do wish I could share with my Chinese friends which I sometimes do, but most times, there is a lack of understanding and acknowledgement in that sense. There are times too when I have encountered firsthand racism but I just have to keep mum about it to not aggravate the situation and this is extremely common in most of my minority friends which brings me to the point below, desensitisation.

— Desensitisation of casual racism & its impacts

Due to the years of experiencing these situations, I learnt to be outspoken in situations where I felt like the race card was played amongst my friends and I also have tried my best in giving voice to my friends who were victims of casual racisms during conversations etc. However, when it comes to formal settings, a lot of Singaporeans find it tough to voice out due to the backlash that may come with it. But more importantly, I feel like the minority race have just accepted the severity of the situation and are often victims of, “Eh don’t be overly sensitive.” Although these “harmless” comments may be in the name of jokes, these more frequent remarks thrown are more harmful in the long run as compared to overt racism as this could create a plethora of problems:

> Lower self-esteem & confidence

> Racial Segregation

> Hostility

> Loss of trust in government and leaders

> Prejudice and hatred

The list can go on and on. What is alarming is that when I was younger, I remember the lack of representation in the media, in times where social media was not present, led me to feel lower than what was being represented in the media. I strived to fit into the stereotype of beauty standards. Up until now, in advertisements, there are lack of racial representation. The ones that do exist, are more often than not, to fit a racial archetype and that is not okay. Beauty advertisements in Singapore and around East Asia for that matter, largely represent, fair-skin, east-asian centric features and silky straight hair. Another example would be the beauty industry in Singapore in drugstores, specifically. If you take a trip down to any Guardian, Watsons or Sasa in Singapore, you’ll realise just how lacking it is in terms of diversity of options. The foundation shades are very much so catered to lighter skin individuals and the darker skin individuals have to result to purchasing more expensive options such as Bobby Brown, Estee Lauder and Fenty Beauty.

All in all, I feel like there is potential to strive for a more inclusive nation and we are generating a current generation who are more mindful but there are largely still flawed systems in place and mindsets that have room for improvement and I plan to attempt to make efforts to do so in this project. As I said in my previous post, my plan is not to create division but to spark conversations and create awareness in a tasteful manner but controversial enough to actually be attention-grabbing.

Other references:




History of Design (VC) | Lecture 4: Graphic Design So Far

This week, I am focusing on two things: International Typographic Style & Psychedelic. The former is an impactful  movement that shaped Visual Communication heavily in terms of organisation of information. The latter is a movement that I’m focusing on purely based on aesthetics and the message behind it which intrigued me.

International Typographic Style

- Traces back to Neue Grafik
- aka Swiss Style 
- Emerged in Russia, Netherlands & Germany 
- Further developed by designers in Switzerland 
- Emphasis on readability & objectivity to communicate ideas effectively 

- Usage of grids & Sans-serif typefaces 
- Style is associated with preference for photography instead of illustrations/drawings as a primary design in addition to text


The emphasis on clarity for this movement paved the way for universally understood way of communication through visuals. It creates a sense of order and control in my opinion. This allowed room to play more with the graphic element be it photography or illustrations etc since the texts are more structured using compositional grids. It is also laid out better to create a better eye flow that is natural so that the message comes across more clearly.


- Art, Graphic or Visual Displays related to/ influenced by Psychedelic experiences & hallucinations form psychoactive drugs 
- Visual Arts were a counterpart to psychedelic music
- Evident in concert photos & record album covers
- Generated controversy due to its links to illicit substance

- Kaleidoscope swirling/spiral patterns
- Strong colour palette
- Concentric circles & repetition of motifs & symbols (eg. Paisley)
- Art Nouveau & Victorian influences

It also had an influence on comic book artists who created undergroudn genre of comic book known as “underground comix“. They were often satirical in nature.

Underground Comix



I think this movement stood out to me visually due to its association with Art Nouveau influences, which in my reflections before, I did highlight my interest in. The contrasting colours were refreshing to see and although jarring at times, it somehow created harmony as colours were carefully curated to complement one another and placed with thought. In this art form, in my opinion, the text came secondary to the image shown. I believe this is due to the fact that since they were attracting controversy, through this manner, they were still able to attract their targeted audience and those who were interested in the scene. It created almost a, “camoflouge” for them to continue existing and to spread their movement/style/message.

History of Design (VC) | Lecture 3 Reflection: To Bauhaus & Beyond

Lecture 3 was pretty insightful and there were many styles/art movement that really intrigued me. However, for the purpose of this reflection, I am going to focus on two of them which is Cubism as well as Surrealism.


- Invented around 1907-1908
- By artists Pablo Picasso & Georges Braque
- Very much focused on the different perspectives of human figures
- Resulted in painting that appeared fragmented and abstracted.

2 different styles of Cubism :

  • First Stage: Analytical – Muted, earthy tones were used
  • Second Stage: Synthetic –  More colourful and used mixed media

Juan Gris

Portrait of Josette Gris, 1916
Juan Gris

My favourite artwork shared during the lecture was one by Juan Gris, called Portrait of Josette Gris. Between the two styles of Cubism, I much rather prefer the Analytical style. Although Juan Gris was more known for his works in Synthetic Cubism Style, this particular painting stood out to me. The earthy tones and the form of the figure created a sombre feeling. The depth was created with shadows in various rigid shape form.

Though the shapes used in Cubism were angular, it’s interesting to still be able to see movement and life in the paintings.

Pablo Picasso

Better known for portraits

Georges Braque

Better known for landscapes



- Founded by Andre Breton, a poet in Paris in 1924
- Artistic & Literary movement 
- Played with irrational and subconscious mind 
- Possessed dream-like visuals, symbolism, unexpected juxtapositions & collage images

Andre Breton

- Advocates that artists should bypass reason & rationality by accessing unconscious mind to create art
- These techniques were later known as automatism 
- Allowed artists to embrace chance when creating surrealist art

Sigmund Freud

- Influential works, esp book called 'The interpretation of Dreams (1899)
- Legitimised the importance of dreams and unconscious as revelations of human emotion & desire

Salvador Dali

- Influenced by Renaissance masters
- Had a bizarre surrealist style
- A skilled classical painter and illustrator
- Works often include ants or eggs

Final Reflections:

I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s lecture as it encased quite a lot of information that were interesting to me. Surrealism was the first art movement that caught my eyes, back when I was in secondary school as I was intrigued by the peculiar style it has and how it was able to convey a message that was individualistic, subjective and very personal.

It also played with the subconscious mind and was able to capture the essence of what the artists’ minds looked like. In my opinion, due to their renaissance-style, technical paintings, that contrasted with it’s almost “psychedelic” or a state of mind that was a daze etc, it created a sense of believability that could still resonate with a lot of viewers or followers of the art.

Links used:


History of Design (VC) | Lecture 2 Reflection: Industrial Revolution & Graphic Reactions

During the sharing session in class, Desmond reintroduced us to the art movement called, Art Nouveau. The works that were classified under this particular style really piqued my interest. The organic and expressive lines in the design was something I really identified with and fully appreciate. Hence, this reflection is going to cover that!

Here is some history that I read up on.

Generally, Art Noveau was generated by enthusiasts who were in the decorative, graphic arts and architecture throughout Europe and beyond, including the United States. It was also known as the Glasgow style or more commonly known by the Germans as Jugendstil. The movement lasted between 1890-1910.

This movement began as an effort to break free from the eclectic historical styles with an aim to modernise design. Inspirations were drawn from organic and geometric forms which formed elegant designs that created visual movement with the flowing lines. Art Noveau reflected transformations of the modern age at the time in an exuberant style that emphasized nature, beauty and optimism. Muted colours of greens, yellows, blues and browns were popular in this art style.

Unfortunately, the style ended before World War I which then led to the development of Art Deco.

Now that the history has been established, I’m going to move on to the artists and works. Although the movement existed in furniture, products etc, I’m going to pull the focus onto the graphic design as that was something that stood out to me most.  Perhaps what attracted me to Art Noveau was the emotions that the art provoked.

Alphonse Mucha

A Czech artist who drew influences from Japanese Ukiyo-e artist, Utagawa Toyokuni. He birthed the ‘Style Mucha’ where he was established as the pre-eminent exponent of French Art Nouveau. He came to popularity from the commissioned work of Sarah Bernhardt.

Works by Alphonse Mucha

Jules Chéret

He was a French painter and lithographer but was also known as the father of modern poster from Paris.

Aubrey Beardsley

A British artist who was notable due to his impressive impact on illustration art. He was able to make a name for himself in a short span of 7 years and one of his most popular works were his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s play, Salome. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to the onset of tuberculosis.


This art movement was something I connected with as I’ve always been a fan of muted tones in graphic designs as well as clean, wavy lines. Hence, Art Noveau was a movement that was not only visually pleasing but also able to evoke an emotion that rested well with me. It communicated a sense of freedom and expressed delicate yet bold statements with its intensity in visual metaphors and expressions along with its flowing lines.


Links used:

History of Design | Lecture 1 Reflection: Writing to Typography

This week, we learnt about the Evolution of Communication from Writing and how it led up to Typography.

First and foremost, let’s differentiate the terms, ‘Petroglyph’, ‘Pictograph’, ‘Hieroglyph’ & ‘Ideograph’.

Engraved carvings/images on rock surface in prehistoric times. While they can be found in literate culture, they’re more commonly practiced by illiterates.

A symbol for a word/phrase and were the earliest writing system created by the Sumerian. This is often painted onto rocks, not necessarily engraved, using natural pigments.

Characters of the ancient Egyptian writing system, discovered in the Rosetta stone. At the time, only those who were privileged with extensive education were able to read, write and understand Hieroglyphs. (Pharaoh, priests, etc)

Use the ‘rebus‘ principle where they use a combination of pictures that mimic the sound of the word.

A symbol representing an idea or a thing; graphic representation. It is not made up by suggesting sounds of word and required an educated individual to create ideographs. This was more so influenced by culture.

Given that, I was intrigued by the Book of the Dead, which used Hieroglyphic illustrations to communicate the word or phrase with the rebus principle. They were written on papyrus; made from the pith of the papyrus plant. 

This is how papyrus is made, though this is a more modern technique:

Really interesting mind boggling how they were able to figure out a way to create what we have today as paper!

Moving on, Book of the Dead! It is essentially a compilation of religious, magical texts of the ancient Egyptians that illustrates the spells for souls of the deceased to navigate in the afterlife through the Duat (underworld).

They have 4 chapters which are as follows:

A Book of the Dead were commissioned by those in preparation for their own funerals or by relatives of those that were recently deceased. This was something that could only be afforded by the rich, royal and the elites.

Karl Richard Lepsius was the first translator of the book.

Karl Richard Lepsius, first translator of a complete Book of the Dead manuscript

To get a better understanding of what the Book of the Dead is about, here is an easy-to-understand animation that I watched which gave quite good insights for laymen.

In summary, what the Book of the Dead is, is the compilation of spells on a papyrus scroll that the deceased need to pass through the underworld and into the afterlife. One’s soul must be equipped with the spells that they have commissioned or have been commissioned to have.

The Egyptians mummify the body of the deceased and remove every organ of the dead. They left the heart and top it with an amulet as the heart is thought to be the seed of memory, intelligence and emotion.

In order for the spirit to reunite with its body, it must first pass through the Duat, a realm guarded with scary creatures where the soul used the customised scroll to get through these creatures and reach to Maat; Goddess of Truth & Justice. It is judged by 42 accessor Gods that judge whether he had lived a righteous life. After passing this test, with the help of the amulet, the soul has to pass the test of the weighing of his heart against a feather. If deemed heavier, he will be devoured by Amet; a monstrous creature made of crocodile, leopard and hippopotamus. If it is lighter, it is deemed pure and is then being transported to the afterlife.

How to read?

What we learnt in class was that it was read from left to right, right to left or top down and this is purely based on the direction of the hieroglyphs. They’re written in rows or columns and the direction can be distinguished by the direction as to where the human or animal figures are facing towards the beginning of the line.

Another thing to note is that the upper symbols are read before the lower.


I found it really interesting on how writing systems evolved throughout the centuries and how it transformed to what it is today to create a way of reading and writing that is vastly understood by many around the world. It was an eye opening lecture, though intense with the bombardment of information. I really enjoyed learning how Serifs and Sans Serifs came about and the insights shared by Desmond. Looking forward to Lecture 2!

Links used:

Egyptian Hieroglyphic Alphabet

Final Project – Form and Visualisation

For this final project, we were tasked to design an installation structure that consists of a reclining or seating element in a we chose based on an aural memory or a heightened Aural experience from the site. 


We had to do a site analysis and I did it with Sylvia.

Here is the link to our site analysis:

After analysing the site for measurements, circulation path, gathering point, sun direction, etc, we proceeded to the research and development of our installation.

Research & Development

At this stage, we had to design our ideas using only paper cup and at most, one other element if needed. To me, this was probably the most challenging part as I found it tough to develop ideas based on paper cup forms. I decided to just experiment without any drawings nor ideas in mind and just started creating.

Here are my developments:

After consultation, I settled on a particular idea. My lecturer mentioned that the curvature of my installation should be expressed better and hence, instead of straight lines, I decided to go ahead with the twisting element of the sticks.

I chose my materials to be: Balsa Wood, Skewer Bamboo Sticks, and Art Card

Upon attempting my final model, it became clear that I could not go ahead with Balsa Wood as the nature of the wood is too fragile for an expressive curve as it broke.

Hence, I attempted my model with Basswood. I wet this for about 4 hours and shaped it. I made sure to clamp it down and use concentrated heat to shape it into place.

Here is the process through pictures:

Another thing was that I wanted the grills to the seat to be able to slide so that during the day, one can block out the sun whereas during the night, they may slide it open.


Take note that this is a 2-3 seater chair.


Final Project (Dark Object): Family Portrait


by Jessie and I


While designers bank mostly on the capitalisation of mass production, critical thinking is rarely involved in the making of their designs. This disregards the very need for emotional and personal connection to the average consumer. Our dark object aims to provide an immersive, emotional experience for viewers while telling a narrative, in an attempt to portray the multifaceted feeling of loneliness and abandonment.

Our narrative, essentially, depicts a story of an elderly man, suffering the loss of his son, daughter-in-law and his three granddaughters through an unfortunate accident that involved the negligence of his son when he drank and drive. They were on their way to celebrating his birthday. Every year since then, he gets reminded of that feeling of loss and abandonment as he lives by himself and celebrates his remaining birthdays, mourning their loss.

The purpose of this object is not to torment but for one to reflect on the importance of valuing what we have, at this moment in time. In this life, we can be too caught up on the riches of life yet forget the most basic of it all, love and family.

Design Process Documentation 

Documentation Video

Body Storming

Developmental Drawings

Play Test

Video of Actual Installation

Click here for video!

The images Lei shared during her brief regarding ‘Accessories for Lonely Men by Noam Toran from 2001 really stood out to us so we were inspired to create our project based on that. Emotional connection with the user was of the essential focal point when creating the narrative, audio and visuals. We also focused on creating an ambience physically where we played around with the scent associations of an elderly man. We also added an old tartan shirt to add to the connection of the user, playing the role of the elderly man.

As mentioned earlier, the intent of our object is merely to spark and tug on heartstrings of users. It is to allow for an immersive experience for users to remind them of their loved ones. We get too caught up with the happenings in our lives that we forget to treasure the people we have left.  The very people who actually will be there for us regardless the circumstance.

Hence, this is to allow users to be able to connect with the art, though might not be from a first person’s perspective, they would still be able to follow through the narrative and feel affected enough by it to trigger an emotion.


What we needed:


With regards to the narrative, the sound was designed according to its association with the storyline.

Main character: ‘Ah Kong’

Rest of the characters: 3 Granddaughters, Son, Daughter-in-law

As the user approaches the frame, the ultrasonic sensor will trigger the WhiteLEDs to turn on.

Played through a bluetooth speaker, it starts off with the ambience sound of “Happy Birthday” being sung to ‘Ah Kong’ which also acts as Ah Kong’s reminiscent to his past birthday with his beloved family. This is meant to establish context and add atmospheric noise to the room.

A separate headphone plays the calling of Ah Kong by his granddaughters. It should be loud enough to attract users to pick up the headphones and create urgency for them to do so. This guides the users as to their next step.

As they pick up the headphone, the photocell will trigger the next audio to play. This audio is of the son, talking to his dad, ‘Ah Kong’, establishing that he it was ‘Ah Kong’s’ birthday but his son could not make it for dinner but is still planning to come over with his family to celebrate the remaining evening with his father. He skips the planned dinner to head out for an evening of beers with his friends before driving his family to ‘Ah Kong’ house.

The audio then switches to him driving, in the state of being drunk, and speeding in the car. The end of the audio triggers the servo motor to push the frame down, signifying the first death of the narrative, ‘Ah Kong’s’ son.

With this, the next audio is triggered where the audio of his granddaughters are played, calling out to him. This, like before, acts like an indicator to guide the user to pick up the frame.

Upon picking up, user should realise that one of the WhiteLEDs, the one of the father, that is, has been switched off where the WhiteLEDs on the rest remains. The next audio establishes the context that the rest of the family except ‘Ah Kong’, were in the car during the accident, while they were on the way to celebrate ‘Ah Kong’s birthday’. The end of the audio triggers the servo motor to push the frame down.

Once again, the indicator of the granddaughters calling out to ‘Ah Kong’ will be played to guide the user on the next step. As they pick up the frame, like before, the 3 other WhiteLEDs are switched off, indicating the death of the mother, and 2 of the older kids.

The user will notice the youngest child’s WhiteLED is still lit but will be blinking while her audio crying will be played and faded out. The audio will end with the switching off of her WhiteLED, indicating her death too.

After which, the RedLED’s of all 5 members of the family will be flashed at their hearts, signifying their death while ‘Ah Kong’s’ WhiteLED will still be turned on, conveying the idea that he is still alive.


Step 1: Connection to Arduino

Step 2: Coding – Arduino – Servo Motor & Lights

Step 3: Coding – Processing – Sound

Step 4: Building

Step 5: Creating a physical ambience with scents and set-up

Please refer to:


This project has allowed me to really understand the ins and outs of an interactive project. As a whole Experimental Interaction served as a platform for me to understand the culture of making, open sharing and collaborative art pieces, which are done to provoke and trigger emotions, conversations and debate. What we have learnt over the past few weeks during research critique have equipped us with the basis to create a hopefully, effective installation for users to experience. We realised that we were both very much drawn to the aspect of family and abandonment and most particularly, elderlies and how they are often under-appreciated. We wanted to dive deeper into that. If I am being honest, the coding didn’t come naturally for me and I struggled through the process of coding. I would definitely be brushing up during the holidays as I feel like it could be a hindrance for me to achieve a greater understanding of the subject matter. I am truly interested in the art of interactivity, in particular, if it involves social matters.

As for sound engineering, I felt like I have really understood the craft of creating an ambience and emotion with audio. This project allowed me to evoke emotions for users without visuals and that’s the biggest takeaway for me because it taught me the importance of sound and the ability of how certain elements could work with others for users to make associations and paint a picture in their heads.

All in all, this project was definitely one that was extremely challenging given the huge amount of complicated coding involved, coupled with the multiple elements that went into it such as the building of the object. This was very much important so as to simulate the proper installation and create a reality for users.


Project 2 – Locale Zine: Toa Payoh

This is it! The final project for Graphic Form this semester.

For Project 2, we were required to create a zine based on the allocated locations.

Zine is a “self-published, non-commercial, independent publication” where you can pretty much be experimental in your different ways to express your ideas or message such as through type, illustrations, form, colour and more.

I was allocated the location, Toa Payoh. At the beginning, I was not quite keen on this location as I was unfamiliar with it. Furthermore, the nature of the location did not really spark any sudden ideas for the direction I would like to take for my zine. However, I tried to keep an open mind!

We were first required to present Part I: Site analysis, documentation & Research. 

This allowed us to establish the context, history and uncover stories or architecture of the place, that would help generate for our zines.

I did a pre-site-research before visiting so that I would roughly be able to look out for things as I went along. It allowed me to cover important or iconic areas of the location and be more focused during site visits.

I generated 3 ideas, as stated in the link above:

  1. “The firsts of..”
  2. The Old and New
  3. Freaky Tales

I went back and forth between the 3 ideas as I had several areas of exploration for the three options and was not quite sure which one I wanted to pursue. I felt quite lost for the first couple of weeks as I had a tough time deciding on my creative direction. I wanted to attempt illustration as I knew that it was a weaker area of mine, as compared to photo manipulation.

I ended up deciding to go ahead on Option 3: Freaky Tales of Toa Payoh as I felt like that expressed Toa Payoh quite well when I visited the location. In addition to that, I was genuinely more drawn to and fascinated by the murderous and haunting cases that happened in the area.

Originally, photo manipulation came to mind. However, I realised that with photo manipulation for the horror theme is something that was quite predictable. For instance, the glitch images using RGB channels such as these:

I wanted to try a different direction. I’ve always been interested in Gestalt but never really got around to trying it as my illustrative skills weren’t the best. However, when Ms Mimi showed us images by Noma Bar,

my interest was once again piqued. Of course this stylistic approach demands for critical thinking in design where you are challenged a step further to make universally recognisable associative images and link it to another image metaphorically. Personally, as an aspiring designer, I knew that wasn’t where my capabilities lie as of yet.

During my many attempts,


After a few consultations with Ms Mimi, I started my illustrations and went for a different stylistic approach. For this particular zine, I did not really have an artist reference. Rather, I developed my illustrations based on what I thought suited the narrative and played around with composition and visual cues.

I felt like my graphic style was drawn from Noma Bar but I adapted it to fit my style.

This zine was particularly challenging for me due to the very fact that I had to create visual cues that would identify with the masses while connecting the images to the narrative and establishing the architecture of Toa Payoh. In addition to that, I did not really have reference images in terms of style so I had to develop my own. In a way, it was kind of like discovery of my style!

However, in reference to the choice of bold colours, I was influenced by Tom Haugomat

Also, I was very used to using muted pastel tones when I illustrate but I decided to go for bolder colours this time around to communicate my ideas.

My  main selected colour scheme:



My narrative: 

Basically, I read up on a lot of paranormal happenings and murder cases in Toa Payoh and wanted to cover many stories but I realised that my zine was only 8 pages and establishing context needs to be done. Therefore, having too many stories may overwhelm the audience.

Therefore, I decided on a narrative where I, as a third person, having a third eye, goes to Toa Payoh to explore and met lost souls where I hear their stories and tell them through the zine.

Consistency — The white colour represents the lost souls.

My process: 

Sketches: PHOTOS


Illustration Process: PHOTOS

1st page:

This page was meant to communicate the title, The Third Eye and represent the illustration of me, having this ability.


The Final Page:

I decided to crop the whole face illustration to just the eyes to communicate the third eye reference. The moon indicates the association of these lost souls who only come out in the dark, at night.


2nd - 3rd page:

This page was meant to set the tone and narrative to readers where I establish that me, as a third person, is going to the other side to communicate with the lost souls from the underworld.

I experimented with compositions and used a unique place in Toa Payoh that had a nice contrast against the nature of old buildings in Toa Payoh; Toa Payoh Town Park. The motif that stood out to me there were the hexagonal-shaped border of a pathway.

Photo I took and used of Toa Payoh Town Park:


The message of this particular page was to relay that I was crossing over to the other side to communicate to the unknown. Some of them did not look like I was actually in motion to reach the other side.  Constructing the composition of this page to deliver the right message was particularly challenging here. As I had to have a balance between the reaching out of the unknown figure and me, as a third person is mutual.

The page next to the above is this one below. I tried to play around with the initials of Toa Payoh (TPY) to fit it into the proportion of the face using typography but I disliked how it looked. Hence, I decided to keep it simple as I wanted the text to stand out in this particular page since it establishes the main context that act as an introduction.

Final spread:

Whilst playing around with layout, I realised that I could communicate the idea of the underworld through the illustration. The underworld is represented as the opaque image where I visibly look smaller compared to the real world depicted below the image above that served as a reflection in lower opacity. I played around with opacity that illustrated the opaque one as the current reality of this zine.


4th - 5th page:

This particular page is the recreation of a case that happened back in 2015.

Reference to story:

Basically, this guy who assumes the job of a medium, kidnapped two kids and tortured, rape and murdered them.

The landscape in this is a graphic illustration of the actual house where this incident happened. I used the shadow man because ‘shadow monster’ is usually associated to the monsters children are afraid of.

Final spread:

I decided to add a knife that resembles that the man was actually one who is evil and has killed them. The lost souls are represented by the white colour and this was consistent throughout. It also acts as the highlight of the page in which the text, if any, is related to the white figures and it tells their narrative.


6th - 7th page:

For this spread, the reference to this story was inspired by:

In summary, this is a story of a cross-cultural love story that was not accepted. The lady experienced unrequited love where she was rejected by her lover even after moving out of her house to pursue her relationship with him. They moved into Bidadari Cemetery where she was forced into prostitution to fund her boyfriend’s gambling habits. She got pregnant and the guy refused to accept her and the baby. Hence, she committed suicide.

In this image, I was trying to communicate that due to the rejection by her boyfriend, who happens to be the only loved one she had left since she abandoned her family to be with him, the boyfriend not only led to her suicide but also the murder of the baby.  I used visual metaphor to communicate it where the usage of silhouettes and associative representations were used.

The cemetery illustrated in this imagery is also extracted from the real Bidadari cemetery. The challenges in this particular spread was definitely the composition and where I should introduce a highlight to the page without overwhelming it while still highlighting the cemetery as a location. I also still wanted the attention to also be kept on the stories of the souls.

For this particular spread, it was originally just the image of the lady, baby with noose and man’s hand as a whole spread.

But I added other elements as shows below.

Final Spread:

I decided to introduce a slight textural element to the image with white dots that resemble a starry night as I felt that it looked too plain and didn’t seem interesting enough.


8th page:

For this final page, I wanted it to conclude my zine and relay a location through an iconic image.

Therefore, with Ms Mimi’s suggestion, I decided to illustrate myself, seemingly depicted smaller compared to the compiled lost souls that are behind me. There is a spotlight shining but the remain to stay in the shadows which metaphorically also symbolise their inability to be spotted by the average person. Also, I added a shadow that for the illustration of me to symbolise that I am “alive” while the lost souls aren’t. I am also in colour which helps to amplify the latter.

To me, this was probably the most challenging page as I was really struggling with composition. I wanted to showcase the iconic dragon playground to establish the location but could not find the correct proportions.

I also played with distortion through replication and opacity for the dragon playground.

Final Page:

I actually decided to go ahead and print the image below as the last page but ended up really disliking it as it did not look cohesive with the rest of the aesthetics of the zine. Also, it looked very distracting and has an unbalanced composition.

Hence, I went to reprint the whole zine after changing it to the below:

I felt like it looks cleaner and conveys the intention of the idea better, in my opinion.

Also, notice the text here, it is a continuation to the text in the cover page.

I did two print tests before printing the final one where I used Maple White (150gsm) and Coated Paper (135gsm).

Maple White: Matte paper – I didn’t like how the texture absorbed the ink too much to the point where my illustrations looked faded.

Coated Paper – I preferred this effect where it allowed most of the ink to remain on the surface of the paper and reflects the colour better. However, the paper wasn’t bright enough which was why I decided to go with Bright White as my final.

I ended up going with Bright White paper (135/150gsm). It added a slight tinge of red to my zine which added the creepy effect to my zine as well!


All in all, I felt like despite the many challenges (and frustration) I had creating this zine, I felt like I did try my best and am overall satisfied with how it turned out. As with any designs, there are always things you would like and definitely can improve on. I did not manage to communicate the gestalt theory completely, but I am glad I did attempt something out of my comfort zone.

I used the above, which are elements of gestalt to help generate ideas for my illustrations when I can.

Given more time, I would love to develop the architectural part of Toa Payoh and incorporate it more into the zine. However, I guess what I was going with for this zine is more so something that is open for interpretation. Same goes for the dialogues used to communicate storyline. It was supposed to be open for interpretation as well.

Comments during crit!

However, given the feedback during the crit session, I understood and totally agree that I could do better in the representation of toa payoh. Will think about it for Vol 2 of this zine! Hehe

© 2021 Wiyah

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑

Privacy Policy