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
Despite my terrible grasp of Mandarin, I started looking out for Chinese books after encountering the cover designs of Taiwanese designer Wang Zhihong (王志弘). His type-driven designs exploit how Chinese characters are logographics, symbols that visually express the objects and concepts they represent. By deconstructing and reassembling them into elements of a modernist visual language, Wang shows how tradition can be made contemporary. Design by Wangzhihong.com (2016) compiles over 200 of his covers into a visual tome that is a treat for the eyes.
#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.
Design solves problems is one reason the field is so attractive. It was a reason I started studying it too. But I vividly recall the 2007 GOOD magazine cover where an AK-47 gun confronted me with the fact that “good” design could be “bad”. Such a contrary view is the subject of Design and Violence (2015), a print record of an originally online platform started by Paola Antonelli and Jamer Hunt. In 2013, they began uploading designs related to violence—defined as “a manifestation of the power to alter the circumstances around us, against the will of others and to their detriment”—and inviting commentators from a wide variety of disciplines to reflect on each. Online public discussions were encouraged too. Besides the expected, such as weapons and prisons, the project investigates lesser known ways of violent design. For instance, a ramp for killing cattle in a “humane” manner, genetically-modified rice that has strained ecosystems and applying design thinking in war. While the project focuses on facilitating discussion rather than making a stand, it is a painful reminder that design is good… for violent ends too.
#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 inquiries and physical loans.