All posts by Tan Xiang Rei


Parameters and Constrains

I neither agree or disagree with Hanson on loving constrain.  They are necessary part of the process to me.

In the perfect world we would have an unconstrained budget to create and design anything we want. However does the extravagant packing takes away or value add to the product experience itself? For example in my current internship, we wanted to create a comprehensive toolbox to help influencers. The first iteration was the team trying to please every suggestion that was thrown out in the meeting. In total, the first prototype  contain a good 5-6 different apps cram into one. Was it a comprehensive toolbox? Yes. Did it have a good product experience?  No. There was just too much things cramped into a tiny screen. This made the user feel very heavy as the prototype was just too dense.

That being said, I don’t believe in following a set of constrain strictly, When dealing with constrains, I get very boxed up and there is a mental barrier that I have to overcome. Rather, I believe in the double diamond structure used many design thinking models. I believe that this is more helpful in getting the ball rolling and then eliminating and chasing the best, the most practical solutions with constrains.

The Infra-ordinary

What speaks to us, seemingly, is always the big event, the untoward, the extra-ordinary: the front-page splash, the banner headlines. Railway trains only begin to exist when they are derailed, and the more passengers that are killed, the more the trains exist.

I do agree with George Perec to a great degree. We have been condition to live in a fast pace society that we have been desensitised to the mundane. Tabloid news,  rumours, tragedy are the fastest news media consumed today. We don’t pay attention to that one specific plane in the sky flying over our head now, unless Iran accidentally strikes it down. This also leads back to the age old philosophical thought: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

My answer to that, no, and that’s where I fail. I agree that we have to keep questioning. Only with questioning, we will be able to understand more perspective. By understanding more perspective we are better able to empathise with our user. What is their pain point? How can we better improve their experience. This article made me realise how blind I am of my users. Observation is powerful, and it is necessary.

Disneyland with the Death Penalty

“Singapore is a relentlessly G-rated experience, micromanaged by a state that has the look and feel of a very large corporation. If IBM had ever bothered to actually possess a physical country, that country might have had a lot in common with Singapore”

William Gibson first compares Singapore to the artificiality of virtual reality where everything is pristine and organised. On a surface, Singapore does gives off the vibes of ‘ctrl c’ ‘ctrl v’. Walk into the heart lands of Singapore, almost every public housing estate looks the same: Tall rectangular boxes towering in the sky.  Many would describe housing in Singapore to be ubiquitous lego blocks lacking individuality.

Given Singapore history, our need of survival has out weight our need for creative expression. This monotony in Singapore architecture was a very practical answer to Singaporean needs. HDB was not built to be aesthetic, it was build to curb Singapore housing shortage after WWII. It was a utilitarian answer to our needs.

Singapore government utilitarian way of identifying problems and solving them, has greatly ignored what Singaporeans what. During the shift from Kampong housing to HDB, many were forced to give up their lives and communities in the kampong and shift to a new community in their HDB.

Is the best way to problem solve the most utilitarian one? Singapore can afford more empathy when designing their solutions. Is this what the user wants? How would the user feel? These are the most important question we must ask ourselves when we are problem solving.

The beauty and the nice

I largely agree with the author. Over the summer, I have completed a UI UX internship in a software company. There I faced the problem of communicating what the company vision of the app to the user.

User behaviors: “can condition experiences be shared?

Fleur states that communication is difficult when concrete evidences cannot be shared. In UI UX many strive to be universal, to be understood by the masses. However, what is universal? When I first ran the first round of user testing on the app during my internship, I realised how vastly different each person is conditioned to use the app. While the interaction of the app was inspired by UX popular social media apps such as tik-tok, Instagram and reddit, I received mixed feedback on the ease of use. Some found the learning cure steep while others found it an ease to use. For example, back button. There are two camps: a. swipe to return to a page or b. using back buttons. Most apple users are condition to swipe as apple removed the home button, but countless others rely on the back button. When I tried to remove all back buttons to make the designs sleeker and minimal, many users were stuck on the screen. What may seem like a concrete experience to me, swiping, is learnt behaviours for others. I believe that today universal behaviour in UI UX trends are structured by big brands for example: the email icon of gmail. These are conditioned experiences, that takes years to implement. So when creating a new concept such as voice recognition or augmented reality, as a UI UX designer, how do we shape and visualise these abstract concepts.

So how do we organise information and structure the flow of the page. Especially when creating for an app environment, the real estates decrease to 1/5 of the desktop page. How do you effectively translate a webpage to an app? How do we create a universal experience that can be understood by the masses. Hopefully by the end of the semester, I will be able to answer these questions.

Viscom II: The Sensitive Chameleon Mood Lamp


I wanted by deliverables to be catered around children while relating to my previous illustrated book. While I was researching for the next deliverable, I came across a soft toy called worried eater.

The idea of this toy was for the kids to write their worries onto a paper, crush it up and feed it to the doll. I wanted to have a similar concept, where the children can subtlely tell their emotions to their parents.

So I decided on a mood lamp. Since children are often afraid of the dark or the monsters under their bed, the addition of this product to their room would be natural.


I wanted to have three mood yellow (happiness) blue (sadness) and red (anger). Depending on the mood different mushroom would light up, creating different ambience and moods.

For the yellow setting, all the mushroom will light up, creating a bright and light atmosphere. 

for the blue setting, only the surrounding smaller mushroom will light up, casting a soft and melancholic glow onto the chameleon. 

for the red setting, only the biggest mushroom will cast a direct light onto the chameleon. This harsh lighting gives it a rather fiery feeling.

Viscom II: The Sensitive Chameleon (process)

Deliverable No. 1: Story Book Aimed at Children and their Parents

I wanted to have a deliverable where it could encourage parents to spend more time with their children. So I settled upon an illustrated storybook, where the parents would read the book with their children. Hence I crafted a story with two messages one for the children and one for the parents.


Chameleon is rather faint hearted and his colour always reflects his feelings. One day, he got invited to Rabbit’s tea party! But the journey is full of dangers. He has to cross a Raging River, travel through the SpookyWoods, and then the Shadow Forest. Will he safely reach the tea party, or will he succumb to his fears?

The chameleon represents the children, aiming to teach them that it is unhealthy to bottle up their feelings. Children will learn the different ways to purge their emotions through chameleon’s journey.

The friends that chameleon meet on his journey aims to educate parents on the various different ways they can aid their children healthily manage their emotions.


Mock up

things to fix:

  • margins (my text disappeared due to the binding
  • the binding (look into hardcover binding)
  • the text had orphans and rivers.
  • grammar mistakes

Final Illustrations:


Viscom II: EQ Nature or Nurture Infographics


I knew that I wanted to focus on eye flow in this infographics, so I decided to use a flow chart inspired graphics. This fit really well with the content I wanted to out in too. I tried using a timeline format. but the bold red line in the middle was too attention grabbing for the wrong reason. To the bin, it goes~

I really like the graphics and how it flowed. but the graphics were too small and I had a lot of empty spaces around.


  • throw in a background colour
  • enlarge graphics and play with the placements

So the graphics were a lot better, the whole poster looks more cohesive. but the eye flow is a bit counter-intuitive. The viewers are lead from the title to the red parts and then they have to go back to the top and read the orange. MORE EDITING IT SHALL BE.

I made the red illustrations bigger and used a gradient to tie the secondary information into the poster. but now the body text is too huge and there is a lack of breathing space



Viscom II: Research on childhood education and emotional intelligence

After the presentation, I was told to look further into the different aspect of childhood education and to further specify my scope. So, I delve further into researching the different types of preschool education in Singapore.

Pre-school Education in Singapore:

There are three primary types of education in Singapore:

  1. Child Care Centres
    This is one of the most popular options among parents. according to the department of statics in Singapore, 103,548 children are currently enrolled into childcare as of Q4 2018.

  2. kindergartens
    Kindergartens are the second most popular option, with an enrolment of 2,893 (only MOE Kindergartens) students in 2018. The curriculum of childcare and a kindergarten is really similar, focusing on the holistic development of a child through play while preparing them for primary education.  The main difference between a kindergarten and childcare is that kindergartens have a shorter school period and they do not offer infant care services.
  3. Montessori
    Montessori, have a different and more unique framework that sets specific learning outcomes and knowledge skills to align with children’s developmental needs and interests. It is divided into five key areas of learning: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, and culture.

Narrowing my scope on childhood development

The primary reason why I was interested in this topic was that of my brother. My brother is currently in K2 and is attending so many tuitions. I was really concerned with his mental health and well-being. However, I started realizing something else. Being the youngest child in the family (15 years age gap :/), my brother was undeniably in the centre of attention. This made him really cranky when things don’t go his way. He would resort to screaming or crying when he wanted something. This got me to think about Emotional Intelligence in toddlers

What is Emotional Intelligence:

according to a recent study (Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2000). Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for intelligence. Intelligence, 27(4), 267−298.) Emotional Intelligence can be broken down into three parts:

(1) Appraisal and expression of emotion in the self: this relates to individuals’ ability to understand their deep emotions and to be able to express them naturally.

(2) Appraisal and recognition of emotion in others: this relates to individuals’ ability to perceive and understand the emotions of people around them.

(3) Regulation of emotion in the self: this relates to the ability to keep behaviours under control when experiencing extreme moods.

(4) Use of emotion to facilitate performance: this relates to the ability to use emotions and to direct them toward constructive activities and personal performance.

Why is Emotional Intelligence important in the development of a child and why developing Emotional Intelligence in children so early?

Equipping children with skills in emotional or personal intelligence may enable them to adapt and adjust to school life and academic demands more readily. By being able to label and identify their feelings accurately, the child is more in tune with himself. In addition, they are better able to purge their negative emotions in a healthy and safe way.

Why target the middle to higher income dual income family?

According to research by Lachlan Crawford & Teo Chua Tee published by the National Institute of Education (Singapore) youths, today have a harder time deloping their Emotional Intelligence. This is due to the changing patterns of family and community life, many children in dual-income families are becoming more isolated from their parents, as both father and mother enter the workforce and subsequently spend less time at home. Moreover, the Report of the Inter-Ministry Committee, published in 1995, indicated a disturbing number of marriages which ended in divorce. Concerned officials now believe that there are increasing numbers of children from divorced homes who may have difficulty in coming to terms with the break up of their parents’ marriage. In addition, many married couples are abrogating their responsibilities as parents and leaving the upbringing of their children to domestic helpers. Hence, parents are playing a smaller role in the upbringing of their children. The result is that there is a dearth of adult figures to teach children how to manage conflicts constructively through examples or through indirect methods, such as moral codes and patterns of living. Therefore my target audience would be the middle to higher income families with toddlers in kindergarten and childcare.

Observational Research: Stalking my younger brother for a day + interviewing a parent:

My Younger brother is currently k2 and is attending a Sunflower Ikidz childcare near my house in Seletar.  Parents can start dropping their kids off at 7 am, where they have play time outdoors until 10 am before their lessons commenced. Upon entering the childcare I noticed how systematic they were. children immediately took off their shoes and placed them into a designated spot by the shoe cabinet(labelled by their names). they would then take their temperature before entering the building. without being cued, the children were lining up for temperature taking in a single file, while showing their teachers their ID passes to be scanned. Once my brother cleared the checks, he rushed outside to play with his peers. At 10 am, the children were being ushered back in for their lessons. today it was math. The children were being given toys as a method of teaching them addition and subtraction. After Math lessons, it was lunch time at 12. The children all filled into the main hall, and queued to collect their food from the teachers. When lunch ended at 1 pm the kids were bathed and then they had their afternoon nap. (at this point, I went home to spare myself some boredom :P) At 3 pm, the children were being woken up for more food :3 Tea break of Milo and biscuits! At 4 pm they had their more creative class, Drama. at 5 pm the lessons ended and the children were once again free to play on their own until their parents picked them up.


One shocking thing I realized was how regimental the childcare was. It was almost until it was like a military school. The students hung onto the words of the teachers not daring to disobey them. Students who disobeyed or cried were immediately punished to stand alone by the wall until they stop crying or apologized. It was harsh. A nursery 1 child was crying as he was unfamiliar with the new environment and he was punished from play time to stand in a corner until he stops crying. It was harsh but the kids learn fast. disciplining the child made the center very efficient in their programme.

However, this did not allow the kids to show and understand their emotions. they were forced to sallow and hide their emotions. this is incredibly unhealthy.

In general, many households do not allow children to express their feelings. The typical reaction of a parent when a child is feeling unhappy is to immediately switch it. For example, when a child is crying, the parents first line of thoughts would be coo the child and immediately change their emotions. This doesn’t allow the child to identify their emotions and develop the necessary Emotional Intelligence skills. In addition, with an increasing number of children growing up under a dual income family structure, children spend less time with their parents and more time with technology. The lack of interaction between the parent and the child may negatively impact their Emotional Intelligence development. For example, a friendly child is likely to evoke positive reactions from parents and these reactions may reinforce the child to be friendly. If either the mother or father or both of them are full-time parents when the child grows up, it is likely that this child will have more experiences to interact with them.

when I was talking to the various parents about emotional intelligence education, most of them agreed that EQ was just as important as IQ. However, many felt that there isn’t a need to teach the children EQ as they felt it would be developed naturally with age.

Hence in my infographics, I will be addressing how parents can nurture EQ at home.




Illustration for designers: An Eggy Pun Par-Tea (process)


Initially, I wanted to do an egg buffet themed event, revolving the different types of egg dishes in the world~ I came up with a list of the different unique egg dishes enjoyed over the world:

  • Singapore: soft boiled egg with kaya toast
  • Japan: Tamagoyaki sushi
  • America: Sunny side up in American breakfast
  • taiwan: Tea egg

I then realised that I had no visuals to go with the illustrations. My illustrations would be unique and just end up as illustrated food shots. so I decided to go with a new theme: An Egg Pun Par-Tea

it will be an event where people celebrate international egg day, where they sit down to have tea and share their best egg puns.


  • What did the meditating egg say? Ohmm….. let
  • this is so bad but omelette (ima let it) slide
  • What did the egg say to the clown? You crack me up
  • are they from the Yolk-uza?

sketches and digital versions:

it’s so bad but omelette it slide~

ohmmmm…. let 

you crack me up~

in the end, I decided to drop this illustartion in favour of a more


  1. invitation card
  2. bento box
  3. cup
  4. coaster
  5.  Instagram advert