May 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
I received another green envelop today!
It’s so preeeeeeetty! And it’s kind of uncanny because I know I’ve definitely seen that pendant somewhere online before (tumblr possibly), and I remembered thinking it was such a nice pretty thing to have and now I have it! LOVES!!
I’m off to Amsterdam tomorrow. SUPER excited about it! I’ll be in Amsterdam tomorrow and Thursday, Rotterdam Friday to Sunday for the European Design Conference, and Monday and Tuesday in Amsterdam again. Pulling an overnighter in Schiphol airport on Tuesday and will be coming back from Geneva on Wednesday (visit the Red Cross Museum and do the UN tour).
AND I found out that there’s Art Amsterdam going on while I’m there so it’s pretty awesome, I’m going to get to go to TWO big design events! Will probably be heading there for opening night tomorrow since it’s going to be open till 10pm and I only touch down in Amsterdam around 5pm.
I’m so ridiculously excited about going to Amsterdam and just spending my time browsing vintage shops and kooky indie designer products that I can’t afford but love looking at anyway. AND there’s all the kind of museums that I LIKE. Dutch Resistance Museum, Jewish Historical Museum, Anne Frank House…
I’ll be alone for quite a bit, Walter will pretty much only be meeting me for the conference in Rotterdam and a day in Amsterdam.
I’ll see if I can blog on the road, will bring my little EEE PC which has been largely neglected of late.
Okay, inspiration time. Here’s some really cool stuff my Google Reader picked up in the past couple of days.
Riveli Shelving. It’s a fold-downshelving unit for small spaces! Real cool.
Installation by Alex McLeod.
Really like this corporate identity!
Design by Bruneau Rossow. WKW should brand the research department like this. Way coolness.
Great looking graphic work by Rishi Sodha! Really do check this one out, it’s awesome.
Freelancer notepad. Wants. And oh, definitely do browse the Supermarket site, it’s an online shop that sells directly from designers! Really unique, kooky and interesting design goods at prices I’m still unwilling to fork out money for. Lol. But it’s all good stuff.
And on another note, time to plug the Boston Big Picture again.
I have my cynicisms about the sanctity of journalistic traditions and how it’s being upheld by the media conglomerates of the world. But looking through the amazing photos on this site always brings back the pride and belief I have in the role of journalism and photojournalists. Many a photo there has made my heart skip beats, the recent Bangkok ones especially, along with the Vietnam War and current Afghan War ones being juxtaposed so closely after the other in a slightly ironic way. Seeing pictures of fallen photojournalists (Bangkok entries) always makes my heart sick. Seeing the damage to the ecosystem the oil spill is having makes my blood simmer.
These pictures evoke emotions and the desire for a call to action. They stay with you, echoed imprints in your mind that bridge the geographical gap between these seemingly distant events and yourself. This to me is why journalism need exist. Why photographers continue to die in the line of duty to tell a story that isn’t even theirs. These pictures tell me that journalism is still very much alive, that the economic monster of the 21st century hasn’t completely killed it yet. Long live the honour of men and women who continue to tell the stories that the world may not want to, but needs to hear. God bless their souls.
Well, I’ll end on this slightly solemn note. Go look at the pictures. Think. Reflect. Be thankful for the small things and live each day to the fullest. These are turbulent times we live in. Life is too unpredictable to postpone your dreams.
Peace out and I’ll blog again from Amsterdam!
May 24, 2010 § Leave a Comment
It was 26 degrees today and I was melting in my room. I have no fans or airconditioning here so it gets kind of stifling.
But that’s the trade off for awesomely lovely weather.
So anyway. Here’s the breakdown of a nice, lazy summerish Saturday here to make everyone back home jealous.
Went to Ponte Tresa (across the border in Italy, a 20 minute train ride away from Lugano) with Jun Hua in the morning. That place brings ‘nua’ to a whole new level.
In the afternoon, pedaling on the lake with USIHome friends.
In the evening, off to the free open-air concert in the city centre with average to poor music [local bands], lots and lots of troublesome teenagers, and people whom you might actually like to be friends with had they been sober (but were unfortunately, not). It wasn’t particularly enjoyable but it seemed like the whole of under 30 Lugano had decided to be there that night.
So now the pictures will do the talking.
May 24, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Jun Hua and I celebrated our last day of school by nua-ing by the lake on the green, green grass in the beautiful park… people watching (seems to be their favourite past time here) and enjoying very good vanilla cream pastry. Mmmmmmmmm.
May 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Okay. Here goes something I’ve been intending to do for a while.
I’ve been browsing so many awesome things every day that I think it’s time I share them with everyone.
Let me try to keep this up regularly.
8 designs that inspired me today:
1. Columbia U Film Festival
What I hope WKW will be able to have some day in the not so distant future.
5 articles I read that were useful/inspiring:
1.Women In Web Design: Group Interview
Is it difficult for female designers to find their place in the design community?
I personally don’t believe it is difficult. Talent speaks much louder than gender. Good work is good work. I’ve never had any issues with being a woman in the industry, and I feel I’ve had the same opportunities as my male counterparts. Although, it is still disappointing to go to conferences and rarely see many female speakers. Is this because gender is still a factor in the industry, or is it simply because there are fewer of us?
However, I think part of the problem lies in the lack of willingness among many female designers to get involved in self-promotion. I believe as a whole that we don’t tend to bang the drum about our work as hard or market ourselves as strongly. In Jeffrey Zeldman’s article “Women in Web Design: Just the Stats,” he writes in the comments something that reinforces my thoughts on this:
More men brag than women; it seems to be a culturally learned behaviour. Several absolutely brilliant women I know cannot be persuaded to write or lecture or otherwise promote themselves… There’s a concensus that women, however smart or talented, are less likely than men to put themselves forward. We all miss out by not hearing their voices.
Without a doubt, the industry is male-dominated. For example, just in the UK, women make up only around 39% of those in the design industry (Design Council). I think this is mainly because Web design is still confused with IT in general. Many females feel you have to be a math, science or programming whiz to pursue it as a career and simply don’t believe they have the ability.
What should students and new designers focus on outside of their course work to advance in their careers?
It’s important to expand your knowledge to any areas that are related to design. Most design courses concentrate on the basics or on how to use the various pieces of software that are available. These are just basic tools for new designers, but they won’t make you a great designer.
Learn about art, layout and composition, and try to read at least one new book on design every month, or even one per week. Subscribe to design blogs such as Smashing Magazine and Webdesigner Depot, and never stop learning. Keep updating your knowledge whenever possible by attending conferences, reading books and magazines and becoming involved in the local artistic community. Try to become a well-rounded designer, not just an operator of Photoshop or another design software tool.
George Lois, the real-life inspiration for Don Draper in Mad Men, said it best:
“The computer has played a role in destroying creativity with Photoshop. Everybody thinks they’re a designer.”
While he may be generalizing a bit, I believe what is meant is that you can’t be a proper designer without understanding the fundamentals of art and design.
Know Your Stuff
One of the biggest challenges of forgoing a traditional education is to actually get an education at all.
Self-taught designers must be extremely well disciplined. In addition, they must have the resources to be able to study graphic design and learn any skills they will need. The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. We’re so used to finding everything instantly that we forget the importance of internalizing information.
Attention to detail is of utmost importance. People will judge you harshly because you don’t have a degree, so you have to show them why they are wrong. Know your design principles and practice them well, and the critics will shut up pretty quickly. In addition to tutorials and online information, read books on graphic design. Some recent research-based design books introduce new principles that are here to stay.
Like it or not, people have a bias for academia. You need to prove why being self-taught gives you an edge to better engage your audience. Don’t forget the importance of the portfolio as a tool to earn people’s trust in your skills. In addition to conventional projects, make sure to showcase work that is somewhat academic in nature and that shows off your knowledge of sound design principles.
College provides a unique bubble of responsibility-free time. Seriously. Think about it, at what other point in your life are you able to dedicate 100% of your focus towards becoming whatever you want to be? In college, self-improvement is your full time job.
College teaches you social skills, time management, and responsibility. Alright, so that sounds like something off a promotional brochure, but honestly, are you really mature enough (financially and socially) at 18 to hurdle into the professional world of web design/life in general?
Limit the number
If you can, try and keep it to about 6-10 good size projects. People don’t want to go through everything you have done and will probably make up their minds about you during the first 3 you show. Obviously if you don’t have much to show for any of them (e.g an individual logo) you could consider showing more projects.
Select your best
I can’t stress this one enough and you will hear the same thing from other people in the industry: Only select your best work and work you want to talk about. If you don’t love it or can’t talk about it endlessly, over and over, it will show and they won’t be interested. I know myself it’s tempting to fill out your portfolio with work that isn’t your best but shows other skills or types of client. But it won’t be long before you struggle to talk about them engagingly, and you will come across as not enjoying your work.
PHEW! Wow. Never knew putting together a post like this was so much work! Shall find a way to be able to do a daily inspiration entry more efficiently. But hopefully I’ll keep it up so expect more to come.
May 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
The temperatures here are reaching Singapore’s soon. The weather in Lugano has now surpassed the 20 degree Celsius mark. Some days in the week ahead are going to start hitting the high 20s.
Online forecasts tell me Amsterdam is still slightly cooler, and I hope it stays that way because it is getting real hot here. Brilliantly WARM sunshine and disgustingly beautiful skies.
Took some shots so I’ll let them speak for themselves – 100% unedited! Did not adjust brightness, exposure, contrast… merely resized.
Same spot in winter when we first came.
Same view back when we first came!
This is the sky outside at 8.45PM. My sun-powered body clock is all messed up now. During winter we used to cook dinner at 5.30PM because it was already so dark then. Now, 8.00PM looks like 4.00PM and we always wake up with a start at 6.00AM thinking we’re late for school because it’s sooooooooo bright (looks like noon, sun high in sky) and the birds are chirping super loudly and pissing Becky (roomie) off.
AND. Got something really nice in the mail today.
(P.S. If you want to send me lovemail that’s my address for you. )
No prizes for guessing who it’s from!
The ‘U’ intentionally left out in all usual boyfriend cheesiness.. But he hasn’t cheesed me out quite completely yet. And oh the letters were just scattered inside the envelop for me to figure out (with very little difficulty) for myself that it was oh-so-puny ‘missing u’. HEH.
Okay actually it’s quite cheesy now that I’m spelling it out (another pun!) in black and white.
My last day of school tomorrow, and my final presentation for the semester. Had to do at least one presentation for every class we’ve had here. But I really like the teaching style here way more than back home.
AMSTERDAM/ROTTERDAM next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Excited much. ‘Tis one of the biggest highlights of my Europe trip (I still have Spain in June in the middle of my exams and Berlin at the end of my exams and THEN BOYFRIEND COMING UP LIAOOOOOOOOOOO.)
Even though I will be too embarrassed to call myself a designer while at the conference I shall just take this opportunity to learn and absorb and know that God will open the right doors for me at the right time to get to the right places.
Time really passes so quickly. 3 months here have gone by way faster than I thought it would. Jems and Shiu skyped me from SINGAPORE yesterday, those two blokes are already home and many of the rest are already slowly gravitating back to Singapore in trickles, especially the ones returning home from the US. It’s almost June. The exams will come, my trips will fly by, the boyfriend and the family will come up, then I’ll have to go home, already. Just another couple of months left in beautiful Europe.
Most of the fears I had about coming up remain unfounded. I have grown in many little ways here and have had my eyes opened to many new and exciting revelations.
These few months have also been the most RELAXED months of my life since, probably, forever. Even the period after A levels I was relief-teaching and doing design for TJ. There has never been such a great lull in my life since after the ‘O’ levels. Initially the vast vacuum of ‘nothingness’ made me really edgy. In some sense I am still, sort of edgy now. Workaholic anonymous much. But I’ve learned to let loose a lot more, to be more open about people and ideas, to appreciate to some extent, the completely laid-back Swiss way of life.
I really haven’t had much to do here, except soak up inspiration, I don’t even have many design jobs (unpaid, prior commitments or otherwise). I’m not juggling deadlines. I’m not pressed for time. I’m not trying to do 100 things at the same time… and it’s a sensation I am well and truly unused to.
Chiang said to treat this period as my sabbatical. And while my mind is all: ‘C’mon, I can’t possibly have NOTHING to do… gimme something to do. Why is my inbox so empty? Why is no one contacting me for anything? *worries about not having anything to do*’. I know that this is probably a much welcomed break that I needed. I’d been so wound up these pasts few years, especially since entering WKW, with all the activities that I choose to pick up (and sadistically enjoy doing everything within the same time period).
God is still teaching me the meaning of the word ‘RELAX’, something I realize I’m not very good at doing. But I know I’m going back refreshed and ready to go.
Missing church, people, and actually, most importantly, missing FOOD. (Can’t wait to eat SG food)
I miss Singapore food so much I actually dream of it.
Okay. Peace out.
May 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
This photo just won me a new, very Swiss, Swatch.
Okay. It’s nothing much really. Just part of this little photography competition organized by the USI international office for the exchange students. Part of the theme was to (obviously) feature something about Lugano that was especially poignant to us.
This was one of the first photos I shot when we got here, and it was taken on this cobblestone street that leads down to the city centre from the train station. Little did I know then how many times we would scale up and down these steps, backpacks and all, early in the morning and dead in the night as we made our trips to and fro Lugano… just to save CHF$1.10 that we didn’t want to spend taking the funicular up/down to and from the station. So we walked.
Anyhow there aren’t many of us exchange students here, and I don’t know how many people even sent in their photos… but well I’m still happy I have a new Swatch.
(My red Casio’s battery died here by the way, I is sad. But at least I still have my Fossil and now this nice spanking red Swatch.)
It’s preeeetty. And I’d forgotten how loud Swatches tick. It’s sitting in my drawer but when the room is quiet enough I can hear it even when my music is playing. (Okay, given it is a very small room. And I am relatively near the drawer.)
I also have new shoes. Okay. Actually, I have a lot of new many things because I shop quite a fair bit. But today we went to warehouse sale of sorts and I got some nice new shoes for pretty cheap. Shoes were something I hadn’t managed to get since coming here even though I got myself all sorts of other new clothes… till now at least.
Yes I bought heels. But they are grey (officially my new favourite fashion color) and they are very pretty.
Shoes in these parts tend to be REALLY expensive… but the quality is pretty awesome. These are the cheap ones so I’m not expecting a lot from them. After all there’s a reason why Camper shoes cost 99 euros and they definitely walk like they’re worth 99 euros.
Okay, 1am here and we’ve school tomorrow. Toodles.
May 14, 2010 § Leave a Comment
No need for many words, this entry.
The Village of Brè is a teeny little medieval village (population: 300) on the eastern slope of Monte Brè. The architecture is uniquely quaint. The cats are really fat. And I wish I had a house there. For reclusive artistic purposes.
I’ll say it again. I wish I had a house here.
May 14, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This mosaic is on one of the staircases leading up to the train station here in Lugano. I’ve seen it for months and always resolved to take a photo of it. But most of the time when we’re going up or down these stairs we’re either 1) rushing for a train 2) coming back really late at night from somewhere else 3) carrying our backpacks/misc barang/groceries so I’ve never had a proper chance to take a shot of it.
Now, probably no one who reads this blog will understand it’s general significance to ME… But this is why anyway:
Say HELLO to one of my all-time favourite childhood animes!
(ß represents ‘double s’ in German)
Weiss Kreuz was basically the 2nd anime I’d ever watched and that was back in the days before websites like animecrazy or crunchyroll. So I was watching Weiss Kreuz on VCD with Chinese subtitles! I had to search for translations (back then altavista was totally the coolest search engine and who knew what google was anyway) just to understand the plot (especially as it thickened towards the end).
From the Wikipedia article:
Weiß Kreuz (ヴァイスクロイツ Vaisu Kuroitsu?, literally German for “White Cross”, accurately “weißes Kreuz” in German) is an anime about four assassins that work in a flower shop called “The House of Kittens”, a reference to their feline codenames. The assassins are members of a group called Weiß (white), which is run by Persia of the mysterious Kritiker organization.
Of course, the Japs have the amazing ability to always get English titles wrong so it’s not surprising their German isn’t right either. And really the plot is less lame than the Wikipedia summary makes it seem. Truly. It is a very serious anime, full of angst and dead/dying people. And the German was so much cooler back then because I didn’t know what most of it meant or cared about whether it was spelt correctly or grammatically coherent. (Weiss Kreuz’s biggest antagonist, another assassin group, was called Schwarz. German for Black. How surprising!)
Here’s Schwarz looking all badass and everything. The carrot head one is even called Schuldig (German for ‘guilty’), and the scary one in the back with the sharp pointy thing is Farfarello (named after one of the demons from Dante’s Inferno). And guess what. Schwarz has super powers! All of them, yes! Kinda unfair considering Weiss is all mortal. But as the rules of suspending reality goes, the fact that they all have some sort of super power is never called into question.
I should be defending the anime more since it is, or was, one of my favourite animes of all time. But hey man, 20 years down from now we’d probably be watching Avatar and laughing at how campy it is the same way laugh at Star Trek now.
Hee hee. So yes, a tiny peak into my slightly more colorful past when I was still cosplaying and still very much into Japanese culture.
And no, I don’t think my current affinity with cats has anything to do with the above anime!
Okay, that’s all I wanted to say. I’m calling this post Part 1 because I’m sure there are going to be other, unclassifiable things that amuse me that I’m going to want to blog about. Over and out!
May 10, 2010 § 1 Comment
Sorry for the lack of updates, we’ve been having a couple of weeks of more intense lessons. Then we flew off to Rome for the best holiday I’ve had since I came here.
As you’d know we’ve already visited the other major cities (Florence, Milan, Venice, etc), but there is truly, truly, no place like Rome. Attempting to describe it would fall deathly short of the true experience of being there, but I shall try my best.
Italy is a country where all the major cities are designed around tourism. Italy lives and breathes tourism. You cannot walk around the major areas of its cities without being caught in what is obviously designed and catered for tourists. All the times we’ve been in Italy we’ve been in the key tourist areas, so I can safely say that the ratio of tourists to locals ratio I encounter every day is probably more than 10:1.
Every where I’ve been in Italy I’ve felt like I’m stuck in a permanent tourist trap. No where in the world have I visited where I am in constant doubt about being ripped off and wondering where the locals actually eat/shop/etc.
Being generally skeptical about everything, I would say it had a dulling effect on most of my Italian experiences to date. Venice was a bunch of islands that got famous, Pisa had a a ridiculous little leaning tower that was unduly underwhelming, Como was a bunch of boring lakeside towns that are only famous because George Clooney owns a house there…. Florence had a lot of art that I couldn’t really appreciate. I’m sorry if I’m being uncultured but I personally can only see THAT many renditions of a ‘Madonna and Child’ and pre-Renaissance religious paintings so many times.
I remember complaining to Eldon (the most cultured of us all, on exchange in the UK) that I couldn’t really enjoy myself because there were so many tourists and it just totally affected my mood and receptiveness to everything. With a shrug he had replied that ‘you just have to be here for the reason you are here and ignore the factors that stop you from enjoying the experience’.
I didn’t really have a chance to apply it till I came to Rome.
Rome, while no less touristy than any other Italian city, is a city I didn’t mind being ripped off in. Well, almost. I’m not much of a art person. But I’m definitely a lot of a history person. And Rome was like my dream playground with its Roman ruins, of which I’ve exhausted so little of and want so very much to go back for more. But let’s start with the Vatican City and the Museum. We queued 3 hours just to get in. Three hours. And we were there at 9.30am too.
The Vatican Museum and its’ endless ceilings of elaborate frescos that bring about Stendhal syndrome. The Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed, though that stopped few people) with Michelangelo’s indisputably superior craftsmanship was definitely the epic highlight of the museum (museum is an inappropriate term. It was more like strolling through an endless mansion). Yes. I have to use the word ‘epic’. I cannot, right now or possibly ever, find an appropriate enough description of what it felt like to stand in the Sistine Chapel and gaze reverently upon the work of a master. I have seen many works of art throughout Italy. But no other work of art in Italy or even this world, I dare reckon, will ever top just looking at the precision and majesty of those frescos in the Sistine Chapel.
This, my dear readers, is not a painting. It is a tremendous mosaic piece. Mosaic. Yes you heard that right. Thousands upon thousands of little mosaic pieces. Overhearing one of the tour guides, they did it this way because they wanted it to ‘last forever. You can take photos of it, use flash, have the sun shine on it, and it will never fade.’
The famous Trevi fountain. It is said that if you stand backwards and throw in a coin, it ensures your return to Rome. Didn’t do it. There were literally flocks and throngs and all other usable words to describe large masses of humans there. But I promise myself that I will return to Rome.
Now we move along to my favourite part. The Roman ruins.
This is the road leading up the Colosseum. It’s closed on Sundays so you can take a lovely, leisurely stroll and view the Roman Forum and the Trajan’s Market which flank either sides of the road, juxtaposed with newer, modern buildings. It’s really bizarre gazing upon the structures of Rome and how they co-exist in the same space. Buildings were built around and on top of Old Rome, the city is a mishmash of it’s own colorful, diverse history.
I had some time in this place alone on our last day in Rome. Jun Hua and Becky had gone off to an Edward Hopper exhibition, and I went to the Trajan’s Market on Via dei Fori Imperiali (which is now a museum too) for a William Klein photography exhibition. The curators had cleverly distributed Klein’s prints among the other museum exhibits, so it was a pretty enjoyable, quiet morning stroll in the largely empty structure while it drizzled outside. It was nice to be in an empty museum. Coming here isn’t one of the main tourist activities, there are so many other bigger sites to see in Rome for the regular tour group traveler. So it was a real pleasure to be able to take my time and savor the experience on my own.
Still and dark hallways that must’ve used to bustle with so much life and activity. It was slightly creepy walking through these parts on my own. The vastness of those dark empty chambers were unsettling. (I don’t like the dark very much.)
I stood in this little street for a while just imagining what life must have been like back then. From this angle your view of the rest of Rome is non-existent. The great thing about Rome is that all the buildings are short. There’s nothing to obscure your view or disrupt the feeling that you’ve been transported back in time.
And so we move on the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Truly beautiful grounds. Palatine Hill is important to Rome for many reasons. Augustus lived here, Rome was purportedly born on this hill, and more. Visiting Rome has increased my desire to brush up on my knowledge of early civilization and the early Greek and Roman myths just so I can appreciate everything better.
Moving on to the great Roman Colosseum…
The Colosseum is pretty magnificent, and gets the most attention by its sheer size. The flat ground you see is where the original flooring was (wooden planks). The labyrinth-like structure you see below is actually a rather ingenious backstage that they used for all sorts of morbid entertainment gimmicks (ie. using a pulley to bring up a palm tree as an obstruction, or haul up a bear, etc). The descriptions we read made it sound like a real-life Playstation game. It also mentioned that ‘hardly any gladiator made it to the age of 30, which was about the average age of Romans in that period’.
And that’s about all I can put down in words. Rome is a place you have to see, taste and experience for yourself. (This city definitely has the best gelato!) There are more snapshots in the entry below, but for now there is so much more to Rome that I have yet to see, so many more sites to visit. I’d like to go back again and see Pompeii as well, though that’s closer to Naples.
The next trip out will be in a couple of weeks to Amsterdam/Rotterdam for the European Design Conference. Van Gogh and Anne Frank Museums there for me. Among other interesting things. Can’t wait can’t wait.
I’d just leave you with some parting shots for now. I’d try not to be lazy and update more regularly. I’ve a backlog of some photos to clear from other mini escapades.
May 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
More talk in the later entry – though there is so much to Rome that words alone cannot satisfyingly describe the experience of just being there.