I’m typing this essay on a laptop in need of repair. The battery lasts for no more than two hours. The speakers go silent after hours of use. But aside from these defects, the laptop still works as when I first bought it eight years ago.
All of us have something broken in our lives. Tucked away in a drawer. Collecting dust in the storeroom. Or like in the case of my laptop, faulty but still functioning. For various reasons—from the practical to the environmental and sentimental—we have hung on to these damaged goods instead of simply throwing them out.
➜ Read the full essay in R for Repair (2020) available from Temporary Press
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.