Welcome To A Brand’s New World

Our everyday lives are increasingly intertwined with the digital. But are brands succeeding at welcoming customers to their virtual spaces? Some are forging enticing new pathways, writes regular columnist Justin Zhuang

Flame wars, social media envy and fake news are just some examples of how the online world can incite emotions – often by design. Interactions that encourage snap judgements and the ease of them going viral has resulted in highly emotive spaces that are often polarising too. The digital revolution has not only disrupted how we interact as individuals but also with brands. On the one hand, brands can have deeper and more meaningful conversations with their customers. But they also have to be on their toes. A single angry customer rant or a misstep by a brand can be amplified quickly and often disproportionately, if not dealt with correctly.

➜ Read the full column in CUBES #99 — Emotive Spaces

In Singapore, Residents Create a Social Distancing Wayfinding Language With Tape

Dots. Lines. Crosses. Boxes. They have popped up all across Singapore over the past few weeks. Plastered over furniture, floors, and more, the city-state renowned for its cleanliness and order has become a maze of symbols, in order to defend its inhabitants from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This “mess” is indeed a series of messages. They tell citizens to stay apart from one another as the city battles to control the spread of the virus. Such makeshift signs started appearing right after the government introduced safe distancing measures on March 20, in order to limit the number of people gathering in a space and keep them at least 1-metre apart.

With just two-days notice before the measures turned into law, and no specific guide on how to implement them, local businesses and organizations quickly found their own solutions. While some printed custom signage to explain the measures, the most popular method has been to use adhesive tape to construct symbols, from crossing out seats to drawing queue lines and cordoning off areas.

Read the full story in AIGA’s Eye on Design

#ADesignLibrary: Designing With People, And Not Just for People

In my early encounters with @participateindesign (P!D), I recalled thinking they were a cross between a “ground-up People’s Association” and a “21st century SPUR”. These were the polar opposite models of community engagement in Singapore: the former a top-down state apparatus while the latter was a citizen-led think tank in the 1960s and 1970s that frequently challenged state planners with its alternative proposals, much to their chagrin. Against this antagonistic legacy between state and civic society, meeting P!D founders @mizahrahman_ and @janhlim in the 2010s was a breath of fresh air. Their cheery dispositions, aptly captured in their bright yellow “brand” colour, were matched by a clear and simple mission to design with people (including the now more receptive state planners). Over the years, it has been inspiring to see their work grow and I even had the pleasure of editing their 2016 publication “Designing with People and Not Just for People”. It’s an important contribution for a new generation of “woke” Sinngapore designers keen to engage people in their work.

Mizah may have tragically left us too early, but her vision still lives on through this book and the P!D team like @jensullivann and @archited88. This #ADesignLibrary post is dedicated to all of you.

#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome enquiries and physical loans.