Hello, I am JUSTIN ZHUANG, a writer and researcher with an interest in DESIGN, CITIES, CULTURE, HISTORY and MEDIA.


Hello, I am JUSTIN ZHUANG, a writer and researcher with an interest in DESIGN, CITIES, CULTURE, HISTORY and MEDIA. I run a Singapore-based studio In Plain Words and recently graduated from the School of Visual Arts' MFA in Design Criticism program in New York.

My writings have been published in various magazines including Design Observerart4d, AIGA's Eye on Design, Singapore Architect, and POSKOD.SG. Previously, I've also served as editors for visual culture publication The Design Society Journal and an online journal about cities in Asia, FIVEFOOTWAY.

I've been involved in various publication projects over the years. I co-authored Reclaim Land: The fight for space in Singapore, a multimedia journalism website that won an award from the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore. Since then, I have written several books, including INDEPENDENCE: The history of graphic design in Singapore since the 1960s and Mosaic Memories: Remembering Singapore's old playgrounds.

My fascination with Singapore's design culture also led me to start D-D.SG to host documents and discussions as well as archive the city's designs.

Write to justin@inplainwords.sg, or follow me on Twitter, Instagram, PinterestLinkedIn, and JZ · LAB.


Published Works


  • Piracy & Design: Re-thinking Intellectual Property in the Third Industrial Revolution (2015)
  • Word by Word We Build Ourselves: 55 Commonly Used Words in the Design Office of H55 (2015)
  • Singapore School Crests: The Stories Behind the Symbols (2013)
  • Art in Transit · Circle Line (2013)
  • INDEPENDENCE: The history of graphic design in Singapore since the 1960s (2012)
  • Mosaic Memories: Remembering the Old Playgrounds Singapore Grew Up In (2012)
  • Divercity Singapore: A Cartoon History of Immigration (2010)


  • What's This Thing We Still Call Design Criticism? (2014) · Eye on Design
  • Enter the Dragon: Looking Back to the Future of Singapore Design (2014) · Design Observer
  • East and West: Graphic Design in Singapore Today (2014) · Design Observer
  • Monocle Magazine: A Singular View of the City (2014) · Design Observer
  • Powering the Art of Design (2013) · The Design Society Journal No. 07
  • A Vision Realised (2013) · The Design Society Journal No. 06
  • Got Singapore Design (2012) · The Design Society Journal No. 05
  • School Crests Examination (2012) · The Design Society Journal No. 05
  • Dangers and Dragons (2012) · FIVEFOOTWAY: Play
  • Danger: Keep Out! Remembering a Safer Singapore (2011) · iremember.sg
  • Vote For Me! (2011) · The Design Society Journal No. 03
  • 'Browsing Copy' Focuses on Unloved Books (2011) · Wall Street Journal Scene Asia
  • A Room With Everything, on Display (2011) · Wall Street Journal Scene Asia
  • Mr Kiasu: Why You so Like Dat? (2011) · POSKOD.SG
  • Your Singapore Icons (2011) · POSKOD.SG
  • Where to Next? (2010) · The Design Society Journal No. 01
  • A Design of its Time (2010) · The Design Society Journal No. 00
  • Interview with The Design Society: 100 Icons Exhibition (2010) · CNN Travel
  • See This City's Voice (2009) · Singapore Architect #251


  • From Garden City to Gardening City (2013) · BiblioAsia Vol. 9 Issue 1
  • The Rides of their Lives (2012) · FIVEFOOTWAY: Play
  • In Singapore, Saying No to Sameness (2012) · Wall Street Journal Scene Asia
  • Singapore Artists Fight for Old School landmark (2011) · Wall Street Journal Scene Asia
  • A Walk on the Rail Side of Life (2011) · POSKOD.SG
  • Playing with Dragons — Singapore's Playgrounds of the Past (2010) · CNN Travel
  • For Malls, Not all (2009) · Singapore Architect #253
  • It's Time to Come Out and Play (2009) · Singapore Architect #252
  • Reclaim Land: The Fight for Space in Singapore (2009)
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