We were tasked to design our zine on our location (Holland V for me, but I only recently moved so it was quite a fun experience for me too) based on a visual element eg. colors, lines, textures, shapes. My first time back in Holland Village after receiving this brief, I tried looking out for these but couldn’t find something I felt best represented the nature of the place.
Before I moved, I knew Holland V for being ‘atas’ and it was a place that was known for its bar scene at night. But quite recently, my friend and I happened to tour around the area during daytime by chance as we were finding a spot for early dinner. As we were walking around, she brought me over to the less known area of Chip Bee Gardens, situated behind the MRT station. I was quite fascinated by what I was seeing: rows and rows of local artisanal design shops, cafes and much more. It painted such a lovely and quaint scene that I never previously associated this area with.
I loved that fact and decided that I wanted to capture that element in my zine. Besides showing how wide a field of interests and activities Holland V provided, I wanted to show why. Based on my own interpretations, it was partly due to the fact that it was largely colonised by the British army and wealthy expiates in the past.
Their influence can still be seen till this day, beautifully infused with local touches to cater to Singaporeans and foreigners alike – a uniqueness of Holland V quite unlike most places. But I decided to do it based on the element of sound.
Aesthetics + Visuals
I wanted to structure my content to compare similar features in HV that showed both remaining influence from the colonisation of the British, as well as those that were introduced or brought in to cater more to the local market.
One of the first ideas I had for a spread was food, because the Holland Village Market and Food Centre is something that had always stood out distinctively to me because of how it contrasted amongst the more pricey restaurant and bars.
One of my first few designs with the different elements in mind.
[from bottom left to right]: HV Market & Food Centre to Al-fresco Dining Street
The muffled white noise of chatter = The blurred, lighter rectangle on the left
The sound of a frying wok = The letter ‘ц’, a russian letter pronounced as ‘TSSS’ + picture of wok with food + The circles of ‘mzzmzmz’
Music all around as you walk down the street = The wavy lines that span the page
Chatter + laughter from people = The pattern of ‘mrrmmr’ in background + HAHAHA’
After consulting my teacher and a few friends, I adjusted a few things:
For me, and I am sure most Singaporeans, the art scene is not the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Holland Village. Which is why it was all the more important to ensure it was highlighted in my zine. Of all the many shops found along the street of Chip Bee Gardens, my favourite was definitely Bynd Artisan because I love pretty notebooks and personalisation! But also, their interior of the shop was adorned with beautiful typewriters, traditional leather crafting tables and tools and selections of book covers, papers and bind. In comparison, something else I found interesting was the Thambi Magazine Store because it has been around for decades, even at the time of the British’s colonisation. Now it is said to house the widest range of magazines in the whole of Singapore – Kinokuniya could never!
Following the previous color scheme at first, I created this design with the following elements:
[from left to right]: Thambi Magazine Store to Bynd Artisan
flipping of glossy papers = holographic wave
binding = stripes and notebook visuals
typewriter = tak tak tak
But I decided to play with other colors that better showcase how I felt about the art scene, as the original colors were too strong. These were the variations I was playing with:
I’ve always known of Baker & Cook as this ‘atlas’ bakery because my friend used to work there, but I was pleasantly surprised at the number of bakeries around the area that also catered heavily to the local crowd, with the Thiong Bahru bakery right there as well!
Original color schemes and compositions I tried playing with, of course, starting with the darker colors at first but soon realising that I needed a softer and warmer tone for this theme.
[from left to right]: Baker & Cook to Tai Cheong Bakery
Baker & Cook:
coffee + coffee machine = the words ‘WHIRRR’ edited into a swirly liquidified design + coffee beans
showing of european pastries & local pastries = crossiant and egg tart visual
chatter of people in background = blurred ‘MMRMRR’ in background
Tai Cheong Bakery:
adaptation to localised something = Tai Cheong Bakery’s logo taken apart and reconstructed (see below)
I wanted a cover page that represented the colours I would be using in my zine well, and also clearly show my idea of colonization and localisation, which is why I chose the iconic symbol of the Holland windmill to be placed here. Here are a few versions I went through before deciding on my final:
We had to include a map of the area on our cover, and my Experimental Interaction teacher Xuan Ming recently introduced us to this site that converts images into glitch art. I thought the aesthetics of it fit my zine and so I used a map of Holland Village and got my image. Since my topic was on comparing the before and present period of Holland Village, I also did a similar map where I pointed out information around the iconic areas that I thought would be interesting for readers to know.
All in all, a very fulfilling journey in creating this zine which I had been warned would be a challenge as it is hard to replicate sounds in a visual form. But I am glad that I tried and had a lot of fun along the way, even discovering what is now one of my favourite design accounts @baugasm, that inspired me a lot in terms of colors and composition.
Check out the final designs here: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/slow022/sounds-of-the-village-locale-zine/