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.

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How Innovative Print Publishing Takes Creativity from Local to Global

Estonian indie publisher Lugemik on its last decade, and why it still takes forever to reply to emails 

When graphic designer Indrek Sirkel first conceived Lugemik, he planned to translate and publish important texts about design and art into Estonian. A decade on, his publishing initiative has become known for the opposite: translating art and design from the Baltic state and bringing it to the rest of the world.

The plan changed when a client of Sirkel, Mari Laanemets, wanted a catalog for a show she was curating but lacked the budget for a traditional publisher. Sirkel, a graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, offered to design and publish Life Would Be Easy in 2010. This was quickly followed by several exhibition catalogs with other artists from Estonia, and Lugemik was born, co-founded with Anu Vahtra.

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Lessons in the “New Ugly” School of Design

“If we always follow the rules set by designers who lived in the 20th century—but we live in the 21st century—then what are we blindly following?”

Sometimes the best projects start on a whim. Just ask Singaporean graphic designer Darius Ou: his Autotypography project started six years ago while he was bored at design school, and has since evolved into a collection of 365 posters that have found their way into college study materials, and now are showing as part of the Dissolving Margins exhibition at Lasalle’s Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

Autotypography was born when Ou decided to create one A4 poster a day. Over a year, this “visual diarrhea” of his life—hence the wordplay on “autobiography”—evolved into a “semiotic playground.” At the beginning of the project, Ou experimented with breaking the cardinal principles of “good design” because it looked “cool”—from stretching typefaces to blending amorphous forms—but midway through, the project turned into more of an inquiry into visual culture. Autotypography helped propel Ou to becoming one of the foremost proponents of the “new ugly” in Singapore.

➜ Read the full story in AIGA’s Eye on Design