[Final] Project 2A | Zine: Locale

For the first part of our second project, we were tasked to conduct a 5-min presentation on a unique place in Singapore of our choice. 

Final Product

For a more hi-res view, please refer to: Slides-FA.compressed

The place I chose was Keong Saik Road. Because of its popularity as a trendy hangout spot for high-end restaurants, eateries, and bars, I wanted to do a powerpoint presentation in the style of a virtual dining experience. At the same time, I was hoping it’ll be a more interesting method of presenting! After conducting research, I also came to realise that Keong Saik Road, despite its popularity today as an F&B enclave, was once a notorious red-light district in the olden days. 

The visuals of the presentation consisted of mainly hand-drawn illustrations accompanied with Photoshop textures and images.

Finding a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data, the research methods I adopted for this project were secondary research and primary research techniques. The techniques involved were:

Secondary Research: Online information, autobiographies

Primary Research: Site recces, first-hand accounts from myself and others, and surveys

Slide 1


Slide 1: Title

The first slide comprises of an image of the recognisable 1939 building (where Potato Head Folk now resides) with the title in a neon lights kind of typeface and colour.

Because of Keong Saik Road’s popularity as a spot for nightlife, as well as the fact that it was once a red-light district, I thought using neon lights to introduce the place seemed fitting.

Slide 2
Slide 2: Contents page

To make for a more interesting and visually appealing contents page, while sticking to the ‘dining experience’ theme, the outline of the presentation was done according to a fictional restaurant at an iconic shophouse at Keong Saik Road.

The iconic row of orange shophouses at Keong Saik Road

Following the order of going for dinner at a restaurant, I tried to structure my presentation accordingly:

1) Looking at the menu: An introduction into Keong Saik Road

2) Looking at the restaurant’s specials: Keong Saik Road’s unique trait

3) Entering the restaurant: Analyses of Keong Saik Road

Slides 3-7
Slide 3: Cover page
Slide 4: Directions, what is Keong Saik Road famous for
Slide 5: To Dos
Slide 6: Images of Keong Saik Road
Slide 7: Brief history

The first segment of the presentation gives a brief introduction of Keong Saik Road and an insight into its history. To give context to my classmates who have not heard of/been to Keong Saik Road, I gave them an overview of:

Keong Saik Road Today

  • Recently named the ‘4th Must-Visit Destination’ in Asia by Lonely Planet Guide in 2017
  • Where exactly the road is
  • What it’s famous for: its restaurants and colourful shophouses
  • The different facilities that reside there
  • The different types of F&B places
  • An overview of how the place generally looks like and its most notable landmarks

Keong Saik Road in the Past

  • The history behind its name
  • The facilities that resided there in the past

This segment of the presentation was done in the style of a menu. To complement the idea of this segment giving an overview of the place, looking at the menu of a restaurant serves the same purpose.

Slides 8-12

The third segment of the presentation introduces Keong Saik Road’s unique trait, the transformation of a notorious red-light district into Singapore’s poster child for a hip New Singapore. The slides first talked about its notoriety as a red-light district:

  • The changes it underwent from the 1940s to 1990s
  • Its first stages as a street for entertainment houses, then full-fledged brothels, followed by its transformation into a street for commercial use by high-end tenants.

The slides for this segment were done in the style of a chalkboard. Inspired by the many chalkboards displayed outside the eateries I came across while at Keong Saik Road, I wanted to use the medium of a chalkboard display as a unique way of presenting Keong Saik Road’s unique trait. This was also because, keeping to the theme, how some restaurants announce their specials of the day or promotions.

SLides 13-21

The fourth segment presents the data collected from my primary research on the area. This portion of the presentation is broken down into 4 components:

  • How the survey showed people’s impressions and perceptions of Keong Saik Road across different demographics
  • How the history of Keong Saik Road as a red-light district might have influenced the initial perceptions of the same people
  • A better idea of the demographics that frequent the area as well as the reasons they have for visiting
  • Two case studies that emphasise Keong Saik Road’s appeal as a trendy hangout today

The visuals of this segment of the presentation was done according to a dining table setting, with plates and utensils placed against a table. Following the theme, the presentation of data is equivalent to the main highlight of a dining experience, so I thought having the dining table setting seemed appropriate.

Slides 22-23

The final segment of the presentation is the conclusion, emphasising Keong Saik Road’s transformation into a trendy hangout spot famous for not only its F&B scene, but for its rich cultural history.

For this portion, it was done to a setting of receiving the bill. Coming to the end of the dining experience, someone has to pay the bill!

 Techniques Applied

Secondary research techniques used and findings
Primary research techniques used and findings



Conceptualising for this project first started off with picking out and narrowing down unique places in Singapore.

Mindmap: Picking out places in Singapore with unique traits
Places in Singapore with unique traits

I listed and narrowed down places I knew at the top of my head. Some of the places I was interested in exploring further were Upper Thomson Road or MacRitchie Reservoir, Seletar Air Base, Keong Saik Road, Balestier, and Bishan. Some of the traits associated with these places were:

  • Upper Thomson Road: List of dining options
  • MacRitchie Reservoir: Inspired by friends’ stories of their homes getting raided by monkeys, I wanted to explore more about MacRitchie Reservoir. It was the only reservoir in Singapore that the macaques reside in and it is hope to the popular Treetop Walk.
  • Seletar Air Base: Old air base that got reconstructed into an F&B enclave; patrons can see private airplanes taking off while dining there.
  • Keong Saik Road: Shophouses and F&B scene
  • Balestier: Rows of peculiar shops
  • Bishan: Facilities catered to pet owners

However, after debating, I decided to go with Upper Thomson Road/MacRitchie Reservoir.

Research on First Choice

I started researching more on MacRitchie Reservoir and found out that it, along with the surrounding Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce Reservoir, is home to many wildlife, the most notorious being the macaque monkeys. It’s also where Singapore’s first free-standing suspension bridge, the Treetop Walk, is.

Planning out research tactics for Upper Thomson Road / MacRitchie Reservoir

I visited the area and conducted short interviews with a couple of students (15-16 yrs) and a couple of adults (37 yrs, 40yrs) on how they viewed the area:

I also held a couple of email interviews with people who were familiar with the area: a couple of outdoor enthusiasts (one holds regular running expeditions at the area, and the other holding fishing trips), and a wildlife guide who holds guided trails educating members of the public on the wildlife there.

Interview with Jayasri, a wildlife guide at MacRitchie Reservoir
Interview with Holden, outdoor enthusiast who holds running expeditions at the reservoir

However, after looking more into the research and consulting with Joy, I realised that even though MacRitchie Reservoir does have its unique traits, it is quite difficult in expanding on the quantitative aspect of it, and the uniqueness may not be as strong enough. 

(Also, getting to the Treetop Walk is not easy, and when talking to JJ and Zhen Qi, they told me that the Treetop Walk is actually quite underwhelming).

So I decided to change my location to somewhere more interesting and easier to extract data from: Keong Saik Road!

Settling on final Choice

Because of time restraints due to my indecisiveness, I had to work quickly. I started with planning out the types of research and methods to adopt for the area:

Planning out research
Secondary Research

I first started on conducting secondary research on Keong Saik Road; using online sources such as online encyclopaedias and databases, articles, blogs and reviews, and websites, I found:

  • The history of Keong Saik Road
  • Overview of people’s perceptions of the area
  • The descriptive words they used
  • Its evolution as a red-light district (i.e. how it came to be)
  • Lifestyles of people involved when it was a red-light district
  • Articles on it being nominated as the 4th Must-Visit destination in Asia by Lonely Planet Guide in 2017

For a more extensive background on Keong Saik Road, please refer to:  https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-2a-research/

I also found that a local author, Charmaine Leung, wrote 17A Keong Saik Road, which provides personal accounts of her growing up in the area when it was a red-light district.

Image result for 17a keong saik road
Image of 17A Keong Saik Road
Primary Research

Primary research, on the other hand, included conducting surveys, holding interviews, and visiting the site.

I. Survey
The survey

The survey was done on Typeform and administered to youths and adults. I distributed the survey by getting help from my friends (thank you!) and my parents and their friends/colleagues (thank you to them too!).

For a detailed look into the survey, please refer to: https://vanessa4.typeform.com/to/R4vVOi

The statistics was consolidated and categorised into different groups then translated into charts, which were then used in the presentation.

II. Interviews

I also conducted a short interview with a friend. I brought a friend, Fei, to Keong Saik Road and noted down her initial perceptions of the place and how it changed after taking her around and briefly explaining its history. I thought interviewing with her was suitable as she hadn’t been to the area in a very long time.

Also, when visiting Keong Saik Bakery, I had a short talk with one of the employees there and in addition to selling us some bread, she talked about how the bakery tried to retain some of the Keong Saik culture.

Bread at Keong Saik Bakery


Image of Sor Hei Bun
Image of a majie

The bakery had a speciality bun called the ‘Sor Hei’ bun that was modelled after the notable hairstyles of Majie, traditional women who worked as domestic workers and vowed to never get married. It was done in tribute to the previous shop owner who was a Majie.

Furthermore, it was interesting to see that the bakery had a range of buns that catered to both local and high-end flavours. E.g. there was a heibi-flavoured bun, and a champagne sourdough bun with fig and cream cheese.

III. Visiting the Site

Additionally, I did a site recce, where I took photos of the place and conducted observational data. The data collected involved:

Visitor Demographics

Taking a walk around the place, I generally noted down the visiting demographics, and found that there were a number of youths, adults, and elderly. Families and children were lacking.

For a more in-depth analysis, I sat in Keong Saik Bakery from 4pm to about 7pm and noted down the type of demographics and frequency at which they patronised the shop. I found that the bakery had a lot of youths and adults visit the shop as opposed to families with children.

Images of Keong Saik Road First row: Coffeeshops, Keong Saik Bakery Second row: Designs and colours of shophouses Third row: Potato Head Folk, Working Capitol, temple


When taking a walk around the area, I noted down the types of facilities, as well as the different types of eateries. There were restaurants, bars, cafes, small eateries, bakeries, convenience stores, and coffee shops.

The facilities, on the other hand, comprised of boutique hotels, spas and hair salons, and lounges and karaoke pubs.

Urban Ventures

When I was visiting the area, a local arts event was coincidentally taking place. The event was an annual event that takes place at Keong Saik Road, and they would typically block off the area for this. However, when reaching out to the organisers, they didn’t reply!

Presentation Preparation

After consolidating my research, I brainstormed ways in which I could present the data in an engaging yet relevant fashion.

Mindmap: Presentation methods

After going with a normal presentation, but in the style of a dining experience, I planned the visuals and content for each segment:


One of the main challenges I faced during this project was choosing a location. My first choice was actually MacRitchie Reservoir or the Upper Thomson area, but it was difficult in pinpointing a specific unique trait that the area had. I decided to go and conduct research about the place first and that wasted quite a substantial amount of time. Because of my indecisiveness and uncertainty in choosing the MacRitchie/Upper Thomson area, I had to change my location in the last minute! So one of the main challenges I had was the lack of time.

Some of the challenges I faced during this project were:

  • Going about conducting primary research: Because of the lack of time, I had to use efficient ways to conduct primary research across different demographics
  • My research wasn’t as substantial as I hoped – like the one with recording people’s changed perceptions of Keong Saik Road, I think it would be better if I could bring in interviews with people across different demographics

Feedback & Improvement

Post its from friends!
Post its from friends!

Some of the feedback I got about the presentation:

  • History of Keong Saik Road is interesting, would be interesting to see it translated into a zine
  • Method of using a dining setting and visuals to present the information is engaging

With the feedback, I hope to make the following improvements when starting on the zine:

  • Developing more on its history as a red-light district
  • Depicting its popularity as an F&B enclave in the zine
  • Adopting similar visuals and colour palette into the zine



Keong Saik Bakery – Charming Traditional-Meets-Modern Bakery


17A Keong Saik Road

[Project 1] Image Through Type


For our very first project, we were tasked to create typographic portraits of occupations we wished to have in future. These portraits had to comprise mainly of letters found in our names. 

Final Product

Final works Top: I’m a waitress / five-star chef (Left), I’m an art student / graffiti artist (Right), Bottom: I’m a manic fan / music legend (Left), I’m an artist liaison officer/ award-winning actress (Right)

In this project, I wanted to experiment with the idea of contrast, both in concept and medium. Drawing inspiration and personal experiences from past jobs, I wanted to create portraits that consist of these jobs I’ve had and their ‘dream’ counterparts. The four I decided to go with are Server VS. Five-Star Chef, Art Student VS. Graffiti Artist, Manic Fan VS. Music Legend, and Artist Liaison Officer VS. Award-Winning Actress. To further emphasise the contrast, the medium used was a combination of photomontage and illustrations. 

Portrait 1
Job 1: Waitress / Five-star chef

The first portrait is my job as a waitress contrasted with my dream of being a five-star chef, focusing on the contrast between a chef having more control and creating more dazzling meals, and a waitress having much less authority and whose job mainly revolves around serving food. The composition consists of a pair of chef hands at the top garnishing a lobster dish. The dishes, from top to bottom, show a lobster dish, hamburger, and cup noodles. At the bottom is a waiter holding a tray about to serve the dishes. To reinforce the idea of the difference in control between the two jobs, the dishes pictured decrease in quality as it reaches the waiter (a lobster dish, typically considered a high-end dish, followed by fast food, then ready-made food). They also become increasingly disorganised. 

Letters used in portrait: V, E, W

Since the contrast is conveyed through the dishes, the letters, V, E, and W, are spelled out using the food items. Taking into consideration the special qualities of each letter, I adjusted the presentation of the food items accordingly:

V: Has straight, rigid lines
Shown through the composition of the chef’s hands and lobster dish; the dish being connected through flakes from the garnish. As the letter is much neater and rigid, it seems fitting to have it at the top, with the chef’s hands. 

E: Three extensions
Shown through the presentation of the hamburger, where the ingredients are separated to better depict the letter’s extension, and the sauce showing the vertical line; the letter having three separate extensions seem fitting for a hamburger, as the layering of ingredients could emulate the shape.

W: Zig-zag pattern 
Shown through the presentation of the noodles; the zig-zag pattern was simple to depict with the curvy nature of noodles. By extending the noodles across the pair of chopsticks, it helped in keeping the composition balanced, and makes the ‘W’ shape less jarring. 

The entire composition, on the other hand, is also coincidentally in the shape of a ‘V’, allowing it to better to convey the intended message. 

Portrait 2
Job 2: Art student / Graffiti Artist

The second portrait is my job as an art student contrasted with my dream of being a graffiti artist. The main contrast between the two jobs I wanted the portrait to focus on was how graffiti artists and art students had different canvases to work on; graffiti artists had walls and buildings but art students had to confine to the limits of a canvas. The composition, therefore, consists of a student studying at a desk, and across the road, as shown through a window, is a group of painters adding streaks of pink paint onto the row of houses across. 

Letters used: V, N, Z

V, N, Z: Made up of straight lines, rigid 

The letters, V, N, and Z, in this case, are portrayed through the ropes holding the painters’ platforms. Since the ropes here have a very rigid and geometric nature, I chose letters of my name that had the same characteristics. Furthermore, the letters, as compared to other letters in my name, are the easier ones to form out of straight lines. 

Letters used: i

I: Straight line and dot above

The I in this composition is formed by the pose of the painters. The painters themselves mimicking the straight line while the paintbrush representing the dot. The hair of the paintbrush is coloured black to further emphasise its representation of a dot. 

Portrait 3
Job 3: Manic fan / Music legend

The third portrait is my job as a manic fan contrasted with my dream of being a music legend. The main contrast between the two jobs that struck me the most was the level of impact that famous musicians could make where they were able to leave legacies behind, whereas fans would not be able to do the same. To convey this idea, the composition involves a tour group of visitors marvelling at the artefacts and portraits on display, which are of and belong to famous musicians. The difference in scale (the exhibit being much bigger than the visitors) also helps to further reinforce this idea. 

Letters used: A, W

Since the intended message lies in the interactions between the visitors and exhibition, the letters are formed through the artefacts themselves, as well as in the layout of the exhibition. 

Letters used: g, h, o, E, A

O: Distinctive because of its circular structure
The O was used to form the vinyls as they both share the same circular structure.

A & E: Letters A & E consist of straight lines that are angled in more dynamic ways, mimics the physical structures of more recognisable musical instruments

The letter ‘A’ was used to form the guitar on the right, and the display cases on the left and right. Since the uppercase ‘A’ is made up of two converging straight lines, forming a gap at the top, it could form a display case expanding on the gap. 

The letter ‘E’, on the other hand, was used to form the keyboard on the left. The three extensions was emphasised by the black keys, while the top of the keyboard formed the straight vertical line.

H & G: The lowercase ‘h’ and ‘g’ letters have more curves when compared to their uppercase counterparts

The lowercase ‘h’ was used to structure the pose of the musician in the painting. Gaining inspiration from a series of photographs of David Bowie, the letter ‘h’ could be seen in some of the poses he used, so I tried to emulate it but it a more obvious fashion. 

The lowercase ‘g’ was used to form the pose of the bust. Following the same idea as the lowercase ‘h’, I took inspiration from the Thinker sculpture. As its pose mimics the curves of a lowercase ‘g’, I changed the pose of the bust to form a more obvious ‘g’.

W: Has a zig-zag pattern, allowing for interesting compositions

As ‘W’ has a zig-zag pattern made out of straight lines converging, it seemed fitting to structure the layout of the exhibition in a similar manner. 

Portrait 4
Job 4: Artist liaison officer / Award-winning actress

The fourth portrait shows my job as an artist liaison officer contrasted with my dream of being an award-winning actress. In this composition, I wanted to focus on the main contrast of stress levels and activity between the two jobs; artist liaison officers, when managing their clients, face stress in ensuring that their clients stick promptly to the assigned schedule as well as turning up for events and press junkets. Therefore, I wanted to emphasise on the contrast by having the portrait set at a red carpet event, where the artist liaison officer (while carrying a bag of camera equipment and makeup), is pushing a trolley with the actress standing on top of it. The actress is waving to a crowd of reporters.  

Letters used: Z, i, W, Y, F

The message, in this case, is conveyed through the interactions between the artist liaison officer and the actress. Therefore, the letters can be found mainly in the layout of the two. 

Y: Lines converging to form another straight, vertical line

The ‘Y’ here is formed through the pose of the artist liaison officer on the right. Positioning her body to lean towards the left, while having the bag of camera equipment and makeup leaning towards the right, forms the ‘Y’ shape. The pose also helps to reinforce the heaviness of the trolley.

F: Two extensions

‘F’, on the other hand, is formed through the handle of the trolley and placement of the artist liaison officer’s hands. The hands, in contrast to the image of the trolley, help to make the extensions of the ‘F’ a bit more distinctive as well.

Z & I: Zig-zag pattern, and straight vertical line with a dot above

‘Z’ is formed through the placement of the actress’ shawl. Since the fabric, when tied across the shoulders and arms of the actress had a zig-zag like pattern, it seemed fitting to have it in the shape of a ‘z’. 

‘I’ is formed through the pose of the actress. Similar to the idea of the painter in the second portrait, I wanted to adjust the pose so that it would recreate the shape of the letter I (the vertical line with a dot above).

W: Up and down pattern

‘W’ is formed through the structure of the rope barriers. The pattern of lines that form the letter could be recreated through the ‘u’ shape of the rope barriers. By duplicating the rope barriers twice, it formed a ‘w’, but in a curved way.


Research & Conceptualising
I. Research

For a more detailed post on research, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/research-project-1-image-through-type/

After finding more about incorporating texts and letters into artwork in the Dadaist and Constructivist movements, I was inspired to experiment different ways in adjusting objects to mimic the unique traits of different letters, as well as creating compositions and layouts based on contrasts and unconventional elements that are still able to bring forth the intended message.

II. Artist References
Hannah Hoch
Works of Hannah Hoch

For a more extensive background on Hannah Hoch, please refer to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/research-project-1-image-through-type/

Reference for:

  • Idea of photomontage
  • Layouts of visuals to convey a narrative
Moon Patrol

Moon Patrol is a collage artist whose works are heavily influenced by 80s cartoons, Atari 2600, horror movies, folklore, and western and detective pulps, while drawing from his love of comic books from the late 80s and early 90s.

Works of Moon Patrol

Reference for:

  • Style of photomontage 
  • Blend of different graphics
  • Method of colouring
Hattie Stewart

Hattie Stewart is a London-based artist and illustrator. Most known for ‘doodlebombing’ over influential magazines, she also creates ‘tongue-in-cheek’ artwork that ‘moves fluidly between many creative fields including Fashion, Music, and Contemporary Art’. 

Works of Hattie Stewart

Reference for:

  • Blend of illustration and photomontage
  • Colour palette
III. Conceptualising

The process started with conceptualising. 

Mindmap: Brainstorming overall concept and art direction
Mindmap: Brainstorming techniques to use to emphasise on contrast

I initially wanted to work more on expanding the contrasts between different jobs, so I planned out the different ways I could explore this idea and the techniques I could try. I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try new methods of creating visuals, instead of sticking to just illustrations!

After coming to a decision on the overall concept and approach, I narrowed down the four jobs and their counterparts I wanted to portray, then started to think of different layouts to use, while incorporating the letters into them. 

IV. Planning & Drafts

Keeping in mind the contrasts and messages I wanted to focus on for each portrait, I planned out, with the help of artist references, different compositions and layouts I could use to make it more interesting. 

Mindmap: Brainstorming for Job 1
Some layout drafts for Job 1
Draft 1 for Job 1
Mindmap: Brainstorming for Job 2
Some drafts for Job 2
Mindmap: Brainstorming for Job 3
Drafts for Job 4
Drafts for Job 4


Some of the challenges I faced during this project were:

  • As typography wasn’t something I was confident in, finding new and interesting ways to incorporate letters into the composition wasn’t very easy. 
  • Putting the visuals together in a layout that had to be organised but at the same time, vibrant and interesting enough (to make the contrast between the two mediums, photomontage and illustrations), was challenging.
  • Trying to alter the illustrations of real-life objects to mimic the shapes of letters was challenging as they came out either quite boring or undistinguishable as letters.

Feedback & Improvement

Final product with pos-its
  • Working with the two different mediums was more successful than I thought in conveying the contrast between the two portrayed jobs
  • Having a dream counterpart allowed the series to have a continuous flow, making it more interesting
  • The blend between the two visuals was not too jarring and complemented each other well
  • The typeface was not distinguishable in some portraits, where the objects intending to be the typeface looked more like the actual object instead of a letter. To make it more distinguishable, I could have took a step further and altered the physical structure of the objects (even beyond recognition) to make it recognisable as a letter.
  • Some of the compositions came out relatively boring, especially for the last portrait. To make for a more interesting composition, I could have added in more visuals or make the interaction between the two jobs more exaggerated. 
  • In incorporating typefaces, I don’t think I did much experimenting and exploring, and resulted in sticking to two main approaches (adjusting objects to mimic the letters’ shapes, and creating a layout based on the letter). Maybe it would have been more interesting to create textures out of the letters themselves.