Task: User Experience of Hawker Centers & Food Courts (choose your location!) and/or because its CNY, observe the differences in behavior among people. What changes from the everyday do you observe?Document your observations using a combination of photographs and/or video, audio recordings and notes in your journal. Observe the following: how do customers find what they want, find a place to sit, save a table, choose, communicate what they want and what languages are spoken, how do vendors advertise their products to customers, how do they compete with other vendors? Why might some places be more popular than others? What else do you observe in terms of user behaviors? Carefully observe both customer and vendor behavior and document them. Notice lighting, sounds, smells and other factors and how they might affect the way people experience their environment.

with Jie Lin / Fiona / Desiree

LOCATION: Blk 216 Hawker Centre @ Bedok North St 1

TIME: 2 March 2017, 1~2.45pm (7th day of Lunar New Year – still a rest day for most stalls)



  • Document your observations using a combination of photographs and/or video, audio recordings and notes in your journal.
  • Observe the following: how do customers find what they want, find a place to sit, save a table, choose, communicate what they want and what languages are spoken, how do vendors advertise their products to customers, how do they compete with other vendors?  
  • Why might some places be more popular than others?
  • What else do you observe in terms of user behaviors?
  • Carefully observe both customer and vendor behavior and document them.  
  • Notice lighting, sounds, smells and other factors and how they might affect the way people experience their environment.




  • Location and accessibility
    • Location of the hawker centre with relation to Bedok Mall and MRT is further, but within walking distance, than the other (newer) hawker centre in the vicinity, thus its patrons are more of nearby residents and people who are familiar with the area
    • For people who are new to Bedok, there’s a huge billboard showing a map of the vicinity once you exited from the MRT station. Which is keep in sight ; within the range of visibility.


  • Layout
    • Straightforward layout of the hawker centre: old format of two long rows of stalls in the centre and seats all surrounding it thus it is easy to navigate around the place, just finding walking along the stalls to find what they want to eat
    • It is not possible for one to see all the stalls at once, unlike in most food courts where the stalls are arranged in a semi-circle format
    • Open style of the hawker centre means that the stalls and seats are also directly visible once you enter the place. Easily known to any passerby that it’s a hawker centre, a place to have meals; like an open invitation to the place, anybody is free to enter
      • People are simply find any free seats to sit at and when there are no complete full tables, it is socially acceptable to ask for permission to existing patrons to share tables
    • There’s also a section in the hawker centre dedicated to Malay halal cooked food
    • The hawker centre selling only cooked food is also next to a wet market selling a variety of ingredients and groceries which comes with great convenience for both stall owners and patrons as many residents would have their breakfast at the hawker centre right after doing their daily morning grocery shopping at the wet market – experiential package


  • Atmosphere
    • The hawker centre has an open format. This also allows ventilation of the place and is quite breezy and not too warm
    • As the hawker centre was renovated a few years ago, the entire structure and place looks rather clean and bright, and it’s rooftops are free of dust and are still white albeit it’s an old hawker centre. Thus it looks bright and inviting.
    • Cleaners are present, pushing their carts and equipments to clean up tables by tables yet they are often not cleaned fast enough and many tables around our seats were left with empty bowls and pieces of leftovers, attracting lots of crows/birds.
      • Customers are expected to return their trays after finishing their food, but in this hawker centre, it is common to see people not returning their trays.
    • Languages spoken: communication there is mostly and instinctively in Chinese as long as vendors assumed patrons are Chinese. English or Singlish/broken English are used only when they meet customers of other races
      • Stalls and signage mostly bilingual or primarily Chinese which comes with photos of the food but a lot of stalls don’t have their menu fully and comprehensively displayed. Hence this might be difficult for foreigners to know what is for sale, etc.


  • Crowd
    • Even though we were there during lunch hour, half of the stalls there were closed as most stalls are still closed for CNY – to seven days
    • But that doesn’t lessen the crowd during lunch hour
    • CNY decorations still around the place
    • The crowd rapidly subsides and most remaining stalls declined orders as they have ran out of food and drinks as it approaches 2pm and by close to 3pm, almost all stalls all close though some people still lingered around chatting in groups (including us)


  • Experience of buying food from stalls
    • We also noticed a new stall which is ran by a group of young people selling umeboshi rice
    • Customer service: duck rice stall – efficient as each person at the stall had their own jobs and quick to serve as the uncle quickly and enthusiastically took our orders and the food was prepared fast, there was even a helper who prepared the cutleries for us (which is unusual for hawker centre service)
    • When I was queuing up to get my food, I observed that the queue formed before me were mostly regular customers as they greeted the shop tenders with chinese new year greetings as they make their orders. Little conversations and exchange took place before return back their seats with their food. (Overheard the shop tender asking one of her customers which I believed to be a frequent customer, whether he is going with his usual orders for his mother.)
    • While waiting to place my order, I noticed a man coming forward to cancel his order due to the long wait, the shop tender apologized for the wait and return him his money promptly while she gently assured the rest of the customers in the line.
    • Despite it being CNY, I can still see a number of queues formed in front of some food stores. And some stores came up with little strategies to keep track of their customers’ order as well as to minimize any wrong orders by distributing queue numbers and calling out the number when it’s done. This allows customers to return to their seats to wait before they are called back to collect their orders.  (I feel that this is only applicable to people who are seated nearby, within the range of visibility)
    • It’s true that in Singapore, sometimes we joined in queues out of curiosity. The general instinct every time I arrived at a new hawker/food venue is to stroll through the place and look for the food stores with the most amount of people queuing up, then pop in and join the line!
    • I remember years ago, where ‘self-service’ was less common and hawker tables were all embedded with numberings for shop tenders to serve efficiently however, nowadays the ‘self-service’ signs were displayed in most of the stores.

Images taken by Desiree and Jie Lin.

with Desiree / Fiona / Jie Lin

(notes written together as well)

  • People move to where is comfort and convenient: eg.  In the bus, they flock to the door area which can be an obstruction. Some refuse to move further into the mrt cabin for easy alighting later
  • Gantries: eg. Gantry gate is within sight, and crowd flow will naturally direct to it
    People unfamiliar to the flow system in Boon Lay station would try to enter through the wrong gantries
  • Feedback machine at Boon Lay not visibly obvious at first glance
    Good point for why we need to carefully consider how people will move within a space. The feedback machine is placed in a low traffic/low visibility area (which is it ah) — hence, we cannot expect that many commuters will see and therefore use it.

  • There is an escalator which leads up to the platform, with a notice to encourage people to keep to the left side of the escalator – but not very obvious. (which had many precautionary signs)
  • Also a social expectation to keep left (there is a sign for that but it is expected that the right lane is the express lane)
  • Priority seating: colour coded on the East West Line. Located at seats nearest to the entrance – instinctive that they’re for people who need convenient accessibilities and there are signs and colour code to signify such. When people need seats but priority seats are taken, others are expected to give up their seats
  • Queueing: Expected to not cut in front of others at tap out gantries and also waiting for the train
  • Not make too much noise: generally chattering is acceptable but anything louder will be seen as a nuisance to those who wish to rest on the train. (not socially acceptable)
  • Does flagging for the bus count as a social expectation? Cause theres no rule for that, it’s just a thing. LOL. and got bus drivers who scold when you don’t flag the bus. Or they just drive off without you true i had that experience if u dont flag then sometimes they dont stop


  • ADM: Bus stop sign is available outside of ADM but the bus information board not present (with the prices and stops, etc.)
  • Bus: There is a sign that says to give up your seats to the people who need it more / Ads are placed in the bus (top panel) — in the bus that we were in, it was about vigilance
  • Transit: Very conspicuous signs stating the station name, and how to enter the station / Advertisement billboard along the way / Signs discouraging certain behaviours such as bringing durians into the station etc. / As it was drizzling, there was a yellow sign warning of slippery floor. / There is an escalator which leads up to the platform, with a notice to encourage people to keep to the left side of the escalator – but not very obvious. (which had many precautionary signs) / Warning signs from police (crime alert)
  • Pioneer: many signs about rules & regulations / many ads along the way
  • MRT: signage – route of MRT as indicated by lighting on the map, emergency button
  • Boon Lay: Even towards the exit, the walls were filled up with posters with graphics communicating taking safety precautions and showing acts of courtesy while commuting. / On our way out of the gantry towards exit C to Jurong Point, we saw a sign that that indicates “Ramp At Entrance E”  which got us confused as the direction of the arrow was pointed towards the escalator and it does not indicate the exact location of the ramp clearly. It took awhile for me to realized that the ramp is actually at the other side, and is only accessible if we exited the following gantry.

  • FEATURES OF THE BUS: Two different kinds of seats (two different colours) — the yellow ones and the red ones. Not very obvious unless you know, but the yellow seats are “priority seats” which are easier to access especially for the elderly (all the seats in the front) and the red ones are not. But it’s not clear that this is so.
  • FEATURES OF THE BUS: The seats at the back tend to be different to access due to an awkwardly placed bar (which, I believe, was to aid those who are going to sit at the back).
  • Transit: Proximity of control station in case of need for assistance / But inconspicuous top-up stations and toilet hidden behind the information board (?) / Sheltered walkway

  • Peak hours @ Jurong East , changing of trains (can alight from two sides) -> if unfamiliar to that stn (traffic flow)
  • Windows behind the seats cave in -> uncomfortable , not conducive for resting
  • Poles towards back of the bus – obstructive
  • Design does not guide people to instinctively go further in to not obstruct.
  • Redundant / ambiguous signages (Boon Lay station)
  • Reserved signs – culture inculcated ? middle seats ppl have no/lesser  obligations?
  • “Putting bag down”
  • Mrt gantries
  • “Standing on left” sign not obvious enough
  • MRT arrival time display – not enough, hard to see

  • We plan to redesign the layout/arrangement of the seats in the interior to allow smoother flow of traffic
  • Taking reference to several European/western metro designs
  • allocating priority seats nearest to and facing the entrance and then the normal seats inside
  • Demarcating a space at the entrance for standing while commuters who are gonna travel longer dist can move inside to the seating section, allowing smoother flow of ppl as ppl who travel short dist wld only need to stand – and those who need to sit can take the priority seats and get ina nd out of the train faster
  • Priority seats demarcated in the inside section to ensure people inside would also potentially let up space for those in need in case the exterior seats are taken while still providing sufficient standing space

  • For us, we have the bars in the middle which could be obstructive and not as practical during peak hours. It is observed that people tend to fill the space in btwn and stand in two rows, and faces towards the chairs/windows, seldom relying on the bars in the middle but the handles (which are not even present in the few train models like NEL’s while CL models only have ONE bar in the middle of the carriage)
  • Following the design of the interior of Tokyo metro train designs, the bars are situated at the seats, which also function as partitions for the seats (similar function as the grooves of our train seats), it may be more practical as we can grip onto the bars before us, and also the handles on top – less taxing for some ppl who cant hold up.
  • Possibly also help to spread ppl inwards to the carriage as there are more supporting bars available there – rather than relying on the bar nearest to the exit – a huge cause to why the entrance area is so congested as some ppl refuse to move in just so they could hang onto the support there
  • Also increase spaciousness without the bars in the middle, ease of moving from one carriage to another, and possibly accommodate more people in the middle standing area

  • Most Tokyo metro trains have a rack above the seats for putting bags and they are usually used by standing during peak hours (as pictured) – also effective use of space
  • We have the “bag down benny” campaign to encourage people to put down their bags during the journey but little did campaigners know that this method isn’t actually v practical especially during peak hours as ppl who put down their bags are usually limited in their movement with their bags at their feet. During peak hr which traffic is fluid and u need to move fast, they often cannot react fast enough to the change in environment then obstruct and delay the flow of ppl. And there is no need to put down ur bag to save space during non peak hr so it defeats the whole purpose. A few ppl even take putting their bags down to the next level by leaving their bags all over the floor like its their home and take up lots of space albeit during non peak hr.
  • (Fiona) for ppl sitting down and carrying lots of bags, they often have no space to put them. Cumbersome and awkward, and ight take the space in front of them. Compartments below the seats.
  • Racks on top (for the standing) + compartments below (for the sitting)
  • BUT acknowledged that there might be terrorism/bomb scare though (?) which is why the space below seats are no longer opened in later designs

Task: Start to work on final project proposals – prepare three ideas for a screen-based experience that you’d like to create (it can be speculative). Illustrate your ideas and post them on OSS. The ideas can be based on any of the field trips done so far or can be something completely new.

“Rethinking our everyday environment / Empty spaces / Overlooked / Narratives”

Possible locations:

MRT transiting zones (empty but busy places where many passes by without a second look)

Void Decks / Corridors (empty places but where many hangout)

Idea I : Stories / Culture

  • Objective : A platform where people can share and/or listen to the hidden stories of others and themselves.


Hidden Stories by Red Paper Heart

Scapes by Halsey Burgund

Living Library by  design I/O (immersive experience for storybooks)

The idea here is to allow people to share their own experiences and/or listen to what others have to say about certain common things found in that place or maybe different topics as indicated by the illustrations. I feel that there is always special attraction in the narratives and one can never gets sick of listening to them. They are also constantly evolving based on what we experience/see/hear/etc and thats where I think many of us miss out on what others may have experienced. I was also thinking that the playback of recordings are random so the chances of people listening to same story is lower. Possibly, background music that aids in conveying the mood? In Singapore, we’re so often thought as the culture-less country and we don’t know how to express ourselves but I think that is not true, we have but it just gets covered, buried, hidden and lost along the way as we progress so quickly. It is so often that many individuals have the misconceptions that they are the only one experiencing this “weird” thing/action/etc. but who knows someone might have similar experiences as you!


Possible executions :

Touch screen

Sound recorder and player

Idea II : Slowing Down / Emotions / Traces

  • Objective : To provide a more immersive and informative way of telling people about what is currently happening in Singapore – festivals/traditions/etc.


Interactive Animations Retail Design by Dalziel & Pow

Remember by Red Paper Heart

The idea for this is because many people are so busy that they often are unaware or do not know what is happening is Singapore (eg. festivals, events, etc) so I thought what not create something that will slow down the pace of life for a moment through a immersive informative experience?

Instead of the wordy explanations or advert types of experience which causes many to skip/overlook it, why not through animations and something ‘alive’?

Possible executions :

Tracking – Eyes / Faces / Body

Body Motion

Concentration intensity which affects how lively the festival or event is

Touch screen that adds more life


  • Objective : To give people some inspirations for everyday.


The Good Deed Machine by Red Paper Heart

The idea for this is because Singaporeans are often thought to be cold/dull/minds-own-biz but in actual fact most of us aren’t! Hence, this interface allows for one to receive simple do-able inspirations upon touch. Additionally, I thought also maybe quotes too? To help one who is feeling whichever emotion to feel better & be more inspired.

Possible executions :

Touch screen

Choices to do sth for someone or for yourself

Detector that can gauge one’s current emotion and advise according


  • Objective : Integrating art into everyday life with people’s traces.


Studio Play by  design I/O

Flowers And People, Cannot Be Controlled But Live Together by TeamLab

This idea is simply just collecting the lingering traces of whoever passes by/ stays at that place for long and displaying it with paint strokes/splatters or other possible art. Paint strokes could vary with speed/weight/etc.

Possible executions :


Idea III :  Environment / Inclusiveness 

  • Objective : Bringing people closer to their environment in a fun and playful way.


Connected Worlds & Night Bright by design I/O – the environment that grows/changes

Story Of The Time When Gods Were Everywhere by TeamLab – possible interactions?

Google Androidify by  Red Paper Heart – possible interactions?

Puppet Parade by design I/O

The idea for this came about because their is a lot of potential in the relationship we have with our environments. One thought I had that why Singaporeans are always rushing from one place to another and overlooking the places they are at, could it be that because of the empty and dull/boring looking walls and that they do not have much attachments to it? Was it because there is nothing there for them that attracts them to slow down or feel the urge to “take care” of it.

Hence, I thought why not recreate this spaces with something that attracts them plus helps in developing a sense of belonging/attachment for it? What if there was an environment (real/dream?) that changes together with time (day..night) and grows or dies with the actions of people.

Possible executions :

Touch screen

Timezone detector?

Memory that remembers previous users actions and adding on present that carry on into the future

Featured Image from here.

I’m very grateful to be able to visit this exhibition-future world as a field trip for user experience in design and guided by a TeamLab member himself, Takasu. It is a really eye-opening and immersive experience. 

The main part of this exhibition that really resonated was the interactivity aspect since I’m majoring in interactive media. I really like how every piece displayed has this very element to it, which is allowing viewers to physically interact with it as well as emotionally. There were two main types of interactivity that I found myself grouping the works under – physically and non-physical engaging. The works that were physical were “connecting!block town” , “sketch aquarium / town”, “flowers and people, cannot be controlled but live together” , “light ball orchestra”“hopscotch for geniuses” , “story of the time when gods were everywhere” , “media block chair”,  and “a table where little people live”. The works that did not allow physical touch but emotionally engaging was “universe of water particles” and “crystal universe”. There were some works that sort of border between both categories but I personally felt that there was a common ground where they all tell some sort of narrative, from the work to viewers, from viewers to viewers and perhaps also from work to work. Personally, I really value the element of narrative hence I really really enjoyed this trip.

In the work “flowers and people, cannot be controlled but live together”,  is the first work viewers will see upon entering. The first thing that hit me was the smell of flowers instead of the visuals. The smell helped in letting my brain adjust to the surroundings more quickly. In this work, many people often overlook the subtle details of how people are the ones that is destroying the nature -killing the butterflies by tapping on them- but also the ones helping it rebuild it self -flowers form at where traces of people was left behind. I also appreciated how the walls where the flowers were being projected on are soft to touch instead of the hard wall that I thought it would be, this further added a positive experience of the work.

In “sketch aquarium / sketch town “, was a concept that was new to me where I’ve never experienced or seen that your own work could be part of the artwork in real time in museum exhibitions. I think this new way to engage viewers of all ages in the museum is really effective and fun at the same time. I felt that this could one area i could explore in my major in the near future.

“Crystal universe” was the work that was the most memorable for most people and undeniably, for me as well. What really hit viewers was the sheer quality and size of the work. It was a really striking experience that cannot be easily forgotten or redone. However, while most people were admiring this very beautiful piece, I found myself reflecting on how this was done. I remember in semester one of my second year in the university, I was inclined to do a project similar to this but of course in a much smaller scale. Because of that, I know that making such a work is extremely tedious from the soldering of the LEDs to the coding. Even more so when it is of such a huge scale and quality, which make me really respect the people who made this and also arouse my curiosity of how it was done.

 Another prominent aspect was the style of the works. Even though they were all digital, each one of the works still held on to the element of traditional asian style. For example, the infusion of the element of a Japanese folding screen in “flowers and people, cannot be controlled but live together”. I think this is an interesting mix of both traditional with modern which a really creative concept. 


Japanese Folding Screen


After the tour of the exhibition, Takasu also gave us a lecture in the rainbow room. He shared many interesting insights and a really good philosophy of what their company, TeamLab does, something maybe i could aspire to be. What I really pondered over was what he shared about was the difference between western and eastern arts – direction vs surrounding. After he explained, I realised actually this was indeed true in reality. Like he said, one isn’t better than the other and it is really up to the creator to decide what are his aims or goals for his work and how could either methods help in it. 


Featured image from here.

Image of the Japanese Folding Screen from here.

In 2014, Smart Nation is an initiative launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. According to the initiative, it aims to support better living, stronger communities, and create more opportunities for all, by how well a society uses technology to solve its problems and address existential challenges. There are five key domains that they have highlighted that will have significant impact on the citizen and society, and in which digital technology can have a needle moving impact – Transport, home and environment, business productivity, health and enable ageing, and public sector services. In those areas, they also hope to co-create with citizens and businesses to address them. To enable the co-creation to happen, the government strives to facilitate innovations by the public and the private sector by putting in place appropriate policies and legislations to nurture a culture for experimentation, encourage innovation and the eventual adoption of new ideas.

The first question that came into mind was whether heading in the direction of making Singapore a especially technology-dependent society the correct or most suitable way? It is undeniable that technology has the knack for growing increasing more advanced and more accessible to many at a extremely rapidly rate over the years, reaching to many people and places originally inaccessible with just a simple action. It is also true that the technologies are increasingly being improved, bringing along with many benefits but also many negative aspects simultaneously as well. It also scares me if our society was so dependent on technology, what would happen when there comes the time when that technology where we depend on so desperately in our lives breakdown or disappears? While it is a good idea to harness technology to our advantage, I think it is also equally important to keep in mind of being overly-dependent on it.  

Using the example of the HealthHub’s new caregiver service, it allows one to easily access their own health records as well as their loved ones anytime, anywhere. What i found that was good about this app was that it allows for quick viewing of data no matter where you are or what time it is. This may also be extremely beneficial and convenient for those who are giving care to people whose medial is a top priority for concern and to keep in check, such as the elderly or young children,  where one can easily be updated of their latest medical conditions and appointments. However, technology being the double-edged sword, I also wonder whether such connivence would actually decrease their physical interaction? For example, one can easily check with his/her smartphone despite their busy work schedules, how his elderly parents are doing. If they do not live under the same roof, does that means that he/she has a lesser responsibility to check up personally on the elderly parents since they are doing fine? Which may snowball to a worser case scenario of family ties becoming increasingly strained or distanced. I think this question is especially crucial for developed countries like Singapore where there is a large population being the elderly.

 Art/Design Intervention:

“Propose a media art or design intervention to Smart Nation. Be imaginative and creative with your idea and support your idea with illustrations or diagrams.

This intervention can be an idea for a public art proposal, a creative use of data visualization using the open source data collected for Smart Nation, a proposal for an interface (think not just digital but incorporating cultural and social dynamics) in the public transportation system or any other public spaces or in the home.  The topic is open so I’d like to see what you can think of, stretching your imagination while putting thought and critical consideration of the Smart Nation initiative and the lecture in class.”

Initially i thought maybe i could do something with the open source data collected for Smart Nation. After browsing through the various data available for use, i thought to do something that was not commonly done yet but considered important information. I chanced upon the one about carpark rates and thought why not develop from there? Carparks are a necessity for drivers and sometimes they hesitate going to a particular place because they are unaware of the nearby places where they could park their cars or they worry about the cost.

Below is a super brief sketch of the idea or concept of the interface:



 What i had in mind was users can first key in their intended destination (or if not, they could just choose from the list of pre-setted locations), their purpose, age group(?) and estimated duration. The purpose and estimated duration could be optional so users can choose not to put in anything however, I thought to include those to give a better “recommendation” at the bottom(sorting button area). It also shows a map with the scrolling bar at its side(not on top of the map because i feel that it obstructs the viewing experience) that acts like a slider for zooming purposes (maybe fades out when not in use? something like what mac does?). Below it displays the carpark location and parking rates and users can choose to maybe arrange it based on their preferences (eg. distance, price,etc). I was thinking also to make it like a online thing, where it displays this under the location and price rates so one can view which carpark their friends used or something along those lines (eg. current/frequency).

From there, maybe the users click the “drive to” icon which goes to another page. The top part is sort of like google maps? Where you can have a option to swap the to and from. The page also displays the traveling time, traffic flow of that particular road (real-time update picture maybe?), and the nearby amenities or attractions. I was thinking also to include at the bottom maybe a comments section where friends or people in general who used that particular carpark can share about what they felt/opinions/suggestions. Maybe past and/or personal stories from that place can be shared by people who use / used it before. 

Style-wise, I was thinking of making use of icons, colours and illustrations so that it looks aesthetically much better. Maybe some fun animations and interactive functions but generally something that is immersive/engaging but not too complex to use to engage users from all age groups. 


Task: Students will analyze the user experience of ADM building. Carefully observe and document with photos the way finding of the building (location, entrances/exits, signage, spatial organization etc.). Look at its ease of use. Observe how the design of the building affects behavior. Be thoughtful and critical about what works and doesn’t work. Be prepared to share findings in class and discuss observations.  Map a sketch of your experience above pointing out areas that are confusing and areas that are not confusing.

with Fiona / Jordyn / Valerie