Monday, December 29, 2008

Leaf kite

I had a picnic with my studio mates on Saturday. Apart from the food and the ambiance, one of the things that caught my attention was how a group of children had made a kite out of a giant piece of leaf. No it didn't manage to soar but it did provided them with a lot of enjoyment just running and playing with it. Perhaps what I found extremely interesting was how deep the semantic was. A leaf floating in the wind is akin to a kite being flown.

Design Hacks 101

Hello readers. Its been a rather uneventful 2 weeks where design is concerned but for matters of the heart, that is an entirely different story. I'm not sure what really prompted me to even note about the latter. But then again, if you have no heart, you can't design. Yes I know the past few sentences could have been interpreted as absolute rubbish.


It's about time that I started posting entries with relations to 'design hacks'. The term is a reference to the things we do to any object and adjust it to suit our need beyond its intended designed function. For example, like how you could use a paper clip as a fishing hook. See what I mean? Apart from hacks, this new category of postings that I'm creating is also about my observations of how everyday objects are used by people without much thinking.

Naoto Fukasawa attribute this phenomenon as the 'core of awareness' and ideo (the design consultancy) call this 'without thought'. So in light of these things, I have decided to do my own observations and post them up.

stay tuned.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

and then there was none

Thursday, December 18, 2008


It feels rather anti-climatic once the the whole shebang was over ( temporarily ) for this first semester of my fourth year. Procrastination has gotten to me as I wander back and forth in my head thinking about which design related issue I should write about. There are definitely a lot in my head right now and everytime I think about issues, I get a mental image of me giving a speech. And then this led to further daydreaming which eventually resulted in a mental orgasm that leaves me slightly satisfied and I don't feel like ranting on the blog anymore. Anyway, just to keep this site going, here's a post of a picture of a man trying to fix an air-conditioning unit. He is 8 floors up and lives directly opposite my apartment.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cardboard Amplifier

In about less than 24hrs, I'd be making my last presentation for this semester. I did a design hack to create my mock up. The concept is suppose to be a wearable amp for the employees of a certain guitar store. I took out the main circuit board from a Danelectro headphone amp e-studio series. Hijacked a mini speaker from a friend. Throw in some hot glue , masking tape and cardboards and Voila! Oh, and it works too.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Due to overwhelming work and tight datelines, postings will be on hold till the 4th of December 2008.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The thesis presentation went well. I am quite happy with the new design direction that I'm taking now. Other than the fact the design concept came about from real contextual observations, I am also able to fulfill my academic and industry requirement better. At the end of this, I still have to be able to attract potential employers at my graduation show. With 70% of the industry employers coming from the electronic sector, I can't afford to miss this chance to have my design directed at something techno-gadgety.

The Design Brief:
To enhance the urban night skating experience.

The Concept:
A portable device to allow skateboarders and other passersby to view their stunts in sequence immediately after they execute them.

I won't go into too much details at this point of time and there's still a lot of tweaking to do but I do hope the panels will suffice for now.

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's been a sleepless night. I'm wide awake at 5 a.m and configuring my flickr account to synchronize with this blog. Anyway, that's the picture of my deck that I've been intending to sell.

About 2 years ago, I was hired by some local secondary school as a relief teacher. I wasn't given a decent office and I had to run off to the bus stop outside just to get some shut-eye.During my short stint there, I hung out at the skate shop that is situated just right outside the school. It's the probably the oldest running skate shop in Singapore.

For those in the know, this shop needs no introduction.In the end, I got tired of waiting at the bus stop and decide to skate in between lessons after buying my deck from the shop. It actually feels like as if the gahmen is actually paying me to skate.

I failed to synchronize the settings with flickr


Once again I managed to pull off a stupendous stunt and execute it with grace. My apologies for missing the weekly update. I am now recuperating from a mild bronchitis that has been made worst by the immensely difficult ( but not impossible ) task of changing my design direction.

D-day ( thesis concept presentation ) came and at least 3 out of 4 professors were excited about the idea. I don't think this gives me bragging rights but it sure did put me at the higher end of the bell-curve for 3 straight times running ( see banner results below ). My professor has a funny way of grading us with smileys and emoticons.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Virtual Dead Hen

I think I've just reached a virtual dead end. I should have seen it coming but I was too wrapped up in the process. And to add to that, I don't think I was even asking my self the critical questions. And it didn't help either when you have your tutors and mentor agreeing to it in the first place. As much as I loved the idea of the portable skate ramps, we all know that it's not going to work out. It's not feasible.

Hypothetically, even if it did get produced, it's going to require high end composite materials for its structure and lightweight-ness. At the end of it, this thing is going to cost a bomb and I know for sure skaters won't even buy it.
It's not even a logical design since the skaters at the very core of it, are extremely DIY. They don't need what I'm going to design. I think whatever they need, it's got to be something simpler.

I have only 4 days left before the submission of my design concept proposal. In the bag though, I still have the skateable street furniture for me to fall back on. But to be honest, I'm not feeling it. What I'm actually looking out for is something that is derived from this context that I'm observing.

But it's not the end yet. It's only virtual.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Innovate please

Good detail design will never
rescue a poor concept.

I think I 've done fairly a good job at coming up with my Product Design Specification (PDS) because it seemed initially that I was stucked with only 1 concept that I could only generate. Taking cue from redefining the design brief to my own advantage, I managed to come up out with a fair amount of 15 ideas. It's still a rather measly amount in my opinion and if Professor Turkka had been in charge of this, I think he'd call this effort extremely pathetic.

I'm not too happy with it myself even after consulting with Carlos( my Colombian project tutor and mentor ). He said it was ok. The only concept that I managed to work out was the first one that I came up with. In all honesty, I don't really think the concept had been pushed to its limit to reach critical innovation.

If you 're wondering, the concept that I worked on was about designing an extremely portable ramp system that can be carried on the back and be installed with almost any urban fittings.
On the bright side though, I found a different set of user group that can benefit from this extremely well. They are the wheelchairbound and alot of the solutions to their ramp problems seemed to resonate with my design concept.

I'm still feeling rather tempted to go through my concept generation phase again. At this point of time, what the concept need is the "Woah! Why didn't I think of that?!" inspiration.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Design Breves

I think the text in the image is pretty much self explanatory for all you design process nuts who are readings this at this point of time. The picture was taken from Andre Liem's book , Managing The Industrial Design Process : A guide for studio practice. ( 2004, Pearson Prentice Hall ), pg 62.

Some of the information seemed a bit dated considering that it was only printed 4 years ago. Especially the bit on the "problem definition" which I took the liberty of crossing it out and added my own take on it.

At this point of time though, I think the term "design brief" is much more relevant than "problem definition" since the role of designers nowadays have pretty much evolved from just being problem solvers. We're a bunch of creative opportunist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good to go

How do you turn 1 chair into many chairs?

That was the question that we explored when we were initially presented with the Erpo Dining Chair. There are many ways to go about it but we decided to approach the subject from a visual point of view. The name "#5" then arose from the fact that you can see 5 different chairs from this single chair. 4 different chairs form a 2-Dimensional silhouette and the fifth one can be seen in 3-Dimensions when viewed at specific angles.
In that aspect, you get many chairs out of one.

"#5" was also inspired from an optical illusion of how disconnected pieces form a full image when viewed from a certain angle. The construction of “#5" had used distinctive parts of the original Erpo dining chair. The two curved spines and the legs are each joined at a 45 degree angle to help form the 2-Dimensional chair silhouettes. The #5 chair had been designed for temporary sitting purposes in places such as art galleries and museums.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

chair #5

Fl!p Update
Sam and I went to the NUS museum today to take product shots of our chair. We had the idea of taking the pictures where the chair was in its context, which is, as a transient seating object for gallery viewers to sit down temporarily.
Kudos to Uncle Security for allowing us to take photos there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fl!p - Pre Submission

The past week had been quite eventful. There was the Estee Lauder presentation that I thought had been pretty bad but the feedback turned out alright. Also, a long time friend of mine had try to persuade me to buy insurance from him. The conversation turned out to be rather interesting when he showed me the "Life Diagram". I feel rather tempted to elaborate on the latter but I don't want this to be a long post.

So I shall write about my preoccupation within the last 2 days. My friend, Samson, and I had been working on a chair redesign competition. The competition is called Fl!p and the design brief is to re-assemble the chair that they provided us with and come up with another design using only materials from the chair provided. Or as they put it in their flyer, to "Flip" the chair. Whatever that means.
The premise is actually quite similar to an IKEA design hack which can be found at this link.

There are a lot of ways to go about and interpret this. Some entrants are just submitting the "idea" of a "flipped" chair and not really redesigning it. Samson and I on the other hand, decided to take a tongue-in-cheek approach. Since they required the submission of 5 different views of the product, we designed a chair that has the silhouette of 5 different chairs from 5 different angles. Each silhouette forms a 2D outline of a chair. So for us, when we "flip" the chair, you get 5 chairs out of 1 chair.
So here are the pictures of what went on today:

We're still in the midst of it. The final chair design will be uploaded soon.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Start Anywhere

The school is a system. And it also convey its educational materials through a system that has a beginning and an end. But perhaps that is where the danger lies for design education. The design process itself is reiterative and it does not have a start point nor an ending. But as design educators roll out their pedagogy, too many times they are laid out in a linear fashion. And too many times design students accept it blindly without question.

I've never really blamed the school system since classes have to be presented in such a way so that it is progressive. But I guess what is sorely lacking is the fact that design educators forget to point out that the process that they are teaching is actually a cycle with parts that can be interchanged. There is no need to follow the laid out process in a straight line.

So if you find yourself at the next assignment scratching your head and wondering where to start, don't. Grab a pen, take a photo, build mock ups. You don't even have to go looking for that elusive inspiration. It will hit you in the face. The important thing is to start. Just start anywhere. If you don't start somewhere, you won't know for sure where your design direction should be coming from and where it should go.

Just start.
Start anywhere.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Importance Of Role-Playing In The Design Process

For most designers ( most probably amateur or even student designers ), alot of thinking and designing happens in the head, gets drawn on paper and ideas are bounced off back and forth through discussion. But most of it just stops there.

I've just realized today however that even by having a simple piece of life-sized prop, helped unleashed hidden ideas. The prop got passed around, people subconciously acted out scenes even if they were joking about it. During the role-playing however, the actor may not be fully aware of his actions but his group mates acting as the observer however may spot certain key insighst that may not be apparent during the discussion.

This is one of the tools that I think should be used as an advancement of the mock-ups. Creating mock-ups helps the designer to visualize space, form and other physical elements. But by using it in a role-play, it will help the designer to evaluate his preconceived notions to see if it is being acted out in real life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thesis Design Directions

I'm pretty glad that the presentation went well yesterday with all 4 professors being able to see the design directions I had proposed. It is also partly because of smart decision making of me choosing this area. Since none of them are experts in it and that leaves me enough room to explore without them constantly giving me suggestions which I don't like.

I had proposed 3 possible directions for this thesis to continue:
1. Plaza| park
+ This proposal focuses on the redesign of the urban site. It would probably be a plaza. Given that a skate plaza tries to emulate the streets, this design however tries to emulate a skatepark without alienating the rest of the non-skating public.

2. Sit-able skate objects
+ Much smaller in scale compared to the plaza park. As the topic suggest, this design direction will concentrate on making skate structures having secondary functions like being seats or tables. It is not about designing a furniture that you can skate on it. Its about designing a skate obstacle that you can dine on.

3. Portable Fittings
+ This is probably the direction that I like most. This direction focuses on the idea of being able to have the required structures anywhere you want.

To illustrate my point, here are my full presentation panels that I showed yesterday:

Post Mortem

This will probably be the first post with regards to my thesis. It's been 8 weeks into the semester and my design direction has finally been set in stone. It's been a dizzying trip with a lot of round-abouts trying to convince the panel.

It'll be less than 8 more months left before I graduate. There a are a lot of things to do right now which includes getting the design report down into writing.

At this point of time things ar egoing along smoothly. Or at least that's the way I saw it. I've been less of a planner and concentrating more on being able to give my self options when faced with situations. Things seemed to work out that way better.

This post will also be a primer to greater blog changes to come as it will shift from being from a photoblog to an online compilation of my design work.

More post on my work soon.
That's all for now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Random Musings


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Toh Guan Sunrise

to all the mornings that we missed

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cambodia - Hospital Visit

this is my last entry for the Cambodia photo set.