Creating a font is like forming the dna of a human body. A tweak you make on one letter affects the entire physical trait. Good genes results in a linage of happy children while mutations can get wonky.

So here today we were at a workshop that taught black letter, which watered the seed to creating our typeface.

It started out with practice for the ideal letter form and proceeded to picking them out and blowing it big.

Tracing over designs is nothing new and imperative for every designer to improve a logo or a whole layout. That’s why photoshop layers are called precisely that. People used to lay paper over paper to design. We traced over, erased, refined the unique forms of our own handwriting till perfection. An experienced eye like Jean, helped to amend curves that were misaligned. His hands were like magic!

The next wonderful revelation was that each portion of the letter is related to another. So, the top half of the ‘n’ forms the top of ‘p’ and each letter helps to build the next. With enough patience, we started giving birth to the rest of the family.

Soon, we scanned the letters in and started designing in robofont. What’s different about this software is that it allows more precision to tangents and anchor points. Typing out your own letters feels amazing.

So ta-da! a 2 day workshop passed so quick there wasn’t time to finish a whole set but we had already learned a fraction of how to build a family of type. Time for more patience, craft and creation.


Letter Matters

Roots of packaging skin

As we learn from nature’s packaging – the protective layer over bananas or the tough spiky helmet over creamy durian meat – we attempt to re-create packaging that reflects the surface of what we see. In its physiological sense, looking at a packaged good that looks like a fruit feels fresher than one that comes out of Man made machinery. Perhaps if supermarkets started hanging fruit onto plants as they were, we would at least know where these items are coming from. It would be educational and perceived as an artificial fresh.

Juice skin by Naoto Fukasawa
Juice skin by Naoto Fukasawa

Done for the Haptic design exhibition in Japan, in the context of “awakening the senses”.  If you look closely, the strawberry packaging has the depressions of the seeds that dresses the red of it’s skin. The subtlety of texture generates emotions that brings us back to au naturel.

Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc by The Creative Method
Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc by The Creative Method

Alternative Organic wine, with leafy veins that cumulates into a core monogram. With organic packaging, the language of kraft paper is commonplace. Standing out as a limited edition bottle, using environmentally friendly material while looking premium must have been challenging to achieve.

Peanut packaging
Peanut packaging

Can’t seem to find the original post and it’s authors, if you do, let me know! This is the perfect marriage of material and product.

Gino's Garden by Marios Karystios
Gino’s Garden by Marios Karystios

If you’ve checked out Extra Virgin Suicide, the olive oil chain is a complex one. Read about the crooks and deeper mysteries of how it ends up on our supermarket shelves. With it’s ceramic vessel, it can produce that uneven surface which is closer to the fruit of reality.


Time to work on fish scale packaging for the catch of the day. The typography here utilizes waves of the ocean for the branding of a seafood restaurant.
Inspiration from nature, mimicking nature and biomimicry is always there to remind us city dwellers that honey does not come from honey bears. It brings us closer to the knowledge of how food has come to the table and a reminder that what we consume is not a ball of artificial produce.

Mirror Mirror

Art has appropriation, design has inspiration or it’s a mix of connecting these visuals to make it work. Akin to conspiracy theories here are my picks for graphic design similarities. That is not to say these are copies of another’s work. I am just amused and trying to pick the brain. An image we caught somewhere, could’ve lingered it’s tails. Or perhaps it’s birds of a feather who tend to think alike as do all great minds? Yet we all have an individuality that transforms something that looks the same into it’s own personality. A square can look vastly different in various context.

Left, the Tokyo 2020 logo. Right, the Théâtre de Liege design. Photograph: Getty Images/Guardian composite/the Guardian
Image Source: Getty Images/Guardian composite/the Guardian

The great debate this month was Tokyo’s Olympic Logo. What’s to say that the designer never chanced upon the same image a couple of years back. Somehow leaving a faint imprint on this mind.

Image Credit:
Image Source:

Singapore Bus Services Logo in 1978 by Ted Bates and Hillary Clinton 2015 Elections Logo by Pentagram.

Image Source: Pentagram/University of the Arts Helsinki/Factory1611
Image Source: Pentagram/University of the Arts Helsinki/Factory1611

2011 London Design Festival Identity by Pentagram ,University of the Arts Helsinki 2013 Logo by Uniarts and NTU School of Art Design and Media Graduation 2014 Show Logo by Factory1611.

Eye in mouth
Image Source:

Not exactly in the logo sector but I couldn’t resist. The symbol of the eye in the mouth seems to popular too. It’s about being frank and speaking what you see perhaps instead of hiding beneath the layers of obscurity.

Ultimately, it is in it’s application that they become vastly different. The way that it is presented across print, web, signages and space, transforms the experience of a design that first started out as just a logo. So does it really matter that they might have been inspired from each other? Artists have often used appropriation, have based their techniques and methods on old masters and thus it is provenance that should be attributed in which I believe that when these works were presented, it had it’s backing and reasonings behind each. A seed was planted and we see the hybrid of fruits that has grown. Certain harvests turns out sweeter than others.

Everyday things

Recent accomplishment has been finishing up the Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. (give me credit, it’s not Lord of the Rings, non-fiction, so takes a while). Often, we are faced with the challenge of learning to use something new and when things go wrong, we blame ourselves. Norman attributes it to be the fault of the designer, or possibly the lack of knowledge. He was quite ahead of his time, he wrote it in 1988, worked at apple and predicted certain futures.
Systems are there in place to create order. If there was a universal guide book on how things should be designed, instruction manuals wouldn’t be 16382648 pages long. Stumbled upon this read in the library the other day. It looks dry and quite outdated, but it’s importance is undeniable for daily warnings.
Notice how some light switches turn on when you press down while some others switch on when you turn up? Our brain makes connections, it is hardwired to actions we have been instilled with as we grow up. Doors lock when we turn keys clockwise, unlock when we turn in the opposite direction. When things function in a way it shouldn’t or out of the norm our brain gets muddled. For instance, we do not need to think before walking, about whether the right or left foot should head forward, the muscle memory instilled automatically decides this for us. This has bigger implications when it comes to operating a jet plane, or machinery in a nuclear plant. How do you stop an automatic action. Is there a universal guide book on which shape would signify danger so buttons can be designed in that way? In colors, green signifies go and red signifies stop. In an emergency, do we look at a red exit sign and stop in our tracks, causing more confusion. When designing a whole system, the tiniest details needs to be considered, functionality over aesthetics which often, we find ourselves drifting to the latter, only to remind ourselves to take a macro view instead and swim back.
How do you change habits, can you? Or should we take them into consideration and design around them?

Bangkok dreaming


Dropping by Bangkok is always a contrast against the uniformity of Singapore. There’s always something fascinating about seeing how people live.

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Yesterday we got lost and landed up walking a stretch through some low rise homes. The paths were narrow, doors were opened and the chatter of dinner conversations breezed past as we tried to search for Sugar Ray. It reminded me of Kampongs. You could just easily drop by your neighbours’ place in case you ran out of Soy Sauce.

We did find the bar eventually, housed in a plot that was an unfinished construction site, passed a mummified storm trooper, into dim lit red washed room. Vinyl was playing and glass concoctions lined the walls, it was like a mix of being in Walter Bishop’s (Fringe) lab and an apothecary. Something about the unknown and hard to find place against the warm and amiable atmosphere inside with cocktails made it a lovely night. Zerlina had a cinnamon stick lighted and the flavour diffused into her citrus mix.

Quite unrelated to my host of pictures.  I write what I could not capture to remember, the little bits, right now at a freezing pool under frangipani trees.

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The grand palace was a sweltering mess of sun and tourists. One could perhaps blend in as a Thai National for a free entry. The patterns all around were kaleidoscopic and as mesmerising as the golden Chedi. The murals yet another world of gods and monsters, watching people gawk and take in it’s stories.

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The Karmakamet, a soap factory turned to eatery. At every knook, there were splashes of tales waiting to be uncovered, only for those who looked carefully.

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Mornings were often an assortment of coffee. That date was dotted with tiny cakes at Ink and Lion. It’s size undermining the taste, perhaps made for small people in the Shire. A piece of pleasure, quick to go, leaving your thoughts on it all day.


Tanjong Pargar Railway


After a merry go round walk we arrived at the exhibition site, framed by the Open Exhibition poster in Gotham typography. Such a useful font. We loaned out Samsung tablets installed with an app and went around hunting memories of the station. From the stories of Uncle Dola who sold tickets for over a decade to lovers torn by the tracks of time. We walked through the different routes that brought us around abandoned spaces. Not a fan of virtual reality but this was a nice glimpse into snippets of stories past. Curated by a small team so pat on the back for reviving old tales. It was surprisingly quiet for a weekend and more works to go through would have been appreciated of a place people once fondly remember. 



Falling upside, mid day dreaming, Escher making. 


Sometimes we all get a little topsy-turvy inside before we find answers. Been learning a lot this year so thought I’d write my thoughts down before they evaporate (can thoughts evaporate?) and spark discussion. A friend used to send me recipes he concocted up and it was like tasting ideas. Ideas get me all excited, lots of connections start popping up and there’s always new things to pick up. It’s hallucinogens for the brain and soul.