Between Humans And Machines: A Need For Design

What do we need to carry out work today? A table, a chair, and for many of us, some kind of electronic device. Whether it is preparing documents, organising schedules or even meeting colleagues, ‘work’ is mostly done through interactions with machines – ranging from the photocopier to the computer to the smartphone.

Yet, conversations revolving around the design of work environments are largely stuck on the physical work space. Even as designers update office furniture and rearrange layouts toward new definitions of ‘ergonomic’ and ‘productivity’, the virtual office where workers spend their time tapping, clicking and typing away – often in silent frustration – is regarded as the domain of the IT department.

➜ Read the full column in CUBES #95 (Apr/May/Jun 2019)

Transforming Old into Gold

Singapore is ageing. Not just its people, but its buildings too. After five decades of accelerated urbanisation, many of the city-state’s once gleaming modern developments — particularly its housing stock ‚ have reached middle age.

Peeling paint, leaking ceilings and creaking infrastructure are some common problems homeowners are increasingly grappling with. The solution for many is to move to a new development by selling their homes en-bloc. It’s no wonder many Singaporeans see their homes as property assets, a shelter built out of money to be cashed out later in life.

While wrecking old(er) buildings for gold seems pragmatic and even inevitable for many, it also reflects the lack of imaginative alternatives in Singapore.

➜ Read the full column in CUBES #94 (Jan/Feb/Mar 2019)

‘Wellness is Everywhere Now. Is it Healthy?

The saying goes that ‘health is wealth’, but today it may be more appropriate to say ‘wellness is wealth’. According to the Global Wellness Institute — an industry-funded non-profit foundation — there is a US$3.7 trillion wellness industry that spans from beauty products to organic food and workplace design. There is a growing awareness of the need to maintain a lifestyle that will help you become healthy and stay that.

Design is increasingly seen as part of the solution to help people be proactive about their health. After all, it’s one thing to urge people to make healthier choices such as eating brown rice instead of white rice or walking 10,000 steps a day. It is ultimately more effective to create the conditions that will enable and encourage such ‘healthier’ behaviour.

➜ Read the full column in CUBES #93 (Oct/Nov/Dec 2018)