Imagine kids going to a school designed like a bunker: drab walls, bare concrete, metal bars everywhere. How can we expect children to learn and enjoy being in school in an environment that isn’t conducive to learning at all? Similarly,how can Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) rehabilitate and improve their behavior if they live in a hostile environment?
According to the Section 2 of the Revised IRR of RA 10575 aka The Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, “It is the policy of the State to promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary by promoting and ensuring their reformation and social reintegration creating an environment conducive to rehabilitation and compliant with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTP).”
However, according to the account of Marco Toral, a former inmate and former consultant for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), the prison he spent in is anything but conducive to rehabilitation. “I find it very frustrating na wala kang ginagawa. Day in and day out, nasa loob ka lang, nakaupo ka lang.” Marco Toral shared his thoughts during the 7 years that he spent inside a prison.
My article is published yey! Anyways, I had an idea for this article around July and I started working for this article mid-August and finished it last month. I almost reject this idea because I have no confidence in writing this article at all. (James Clear: Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.) Good thing I did not. I followed my inner soul even if its scary. It feels good to overcome something— to have done something I thought I cannot do.
This speaks so much to my future endeavors and ideas. This year, I followed my gut more and I had never felt more alive and joyful.
Also, I had read about human-centered prisons around April. And I have come to realize that the prisons we have in the Philippines barely even meet the basic human rights of prisoners. As an individual, I wonder how can I help? And this is something that I tried to answer on the article.
Just a reminder that prisons are built not to punish but to rehabilitate people deprive of liberty. How we treat an individual is how we treat all.
Various artists are commissioned to paint social distancing markers in public places. I find it fascinating that visual cues for social distancing i various places are different– not just in colors, but in symbols as well.
The common shape for social distancing visual cues is a circle. The photo above shows how the High Line park in New York looks like with all those green circles designed by Paula Scher. I loved how the circles are colored green– perfectly blends in with the landscape.
In Piazza Giotto, the shape that used was square. And it fits with the landscape as well. Piazza Giotto is located in Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance. A word to describe Renaissance architecture is symmetrical. Hence, square fits the overall historical context of Piazza Giotto.
Social distancing visuals cues can be public artworks as well. Some visual cues can be anti-social. This public artwork in London promotes a sense of community, hope, and freedom while keeping people safe. Contrasting colors and geometric shapes are indications of where people should sit or stand. This artwork is a branding campaign for Stella Artois.
Marketing Director of Stella Artois, Ali Humphrey said, “Social distancing doesn’t need to be anti-social for it to be safe. We’re using art to bring people together, safely, rather than using barriers to keep them apart. Using street art we can make sure this moment we come together again is still one we can savour,”
Moreover, museums and galleries are not yet accessible to the public due to the still eminent COVID-19, hence, co-founder and creative director of Studio Number One, Shepard Fairey explained the artwork, “With galleries and exhibitions closing their doors during lockdown, people have been unable to experience and appreciate art in the usual ways. My team collaborated with Stella Artois to create socially-distanced art to be publicly accessible, but also to facilitate safety as people reunite.”
When Social Distancing Visual Cues Are Ineffective
In the Philippines, the LRT Line 1 and 2 trains have markers on the seats. However, it was ineffective in reaching its supposed purpose.
In 2020, Arapoc, J., and Savage, D. studied the various visual markers of the trains in the Philippines. The markers in MRT Line 3 has been proven effective based on how well the passengers follow the said markers. The opposite thing happened in LRT Line 1 and 2 trains. The markers had an X sign on them, which the authorities mean that this is where they should sit, but the majority of the public interpreted this as this is where they should NOT sit because of the X symbol.
When designed ineffectively, social distancing visual cues may do more harm than good. The goal of social distancing is to keep people safe from the virus and not to disconnect them from their surroundings and other people.
Visual cues can provide novelty during this quarantine wherein we can only travel to places familiar to us. It can be an opportunity to bring people together without risking their health and be a breath of fresh air to the monotonous day of a passerby this quarantine.
Arapoc, Jefferson & Savage, David. (2020). When a Nudge is not a Nudge: Why GCQ Visual Cues in Metro Manila’s Main Train Systems Fail. 10.13140/RG.2.2.34201.65122.
Lucas (2020, June 2). The “wala kayong disiplina” crowd is blaming these people for not following instructions, BUT
the real problem is bad design. Sino ba kasing nag-isip na X ang sign for “pwedeng umupo/tumayo dito”?
[Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/bashgita/status/1267750120935718914
When I was a kid, I love to play under a table. I imagine that the table, where I am under in, is my house. Under the table, I could take on whatever roles I wanted: a mother, chef, teacher, bank teller, and a businesswoman. Together with my peers, we would imagine that the table is either a castle or a mansion. For most kids, they felt the same way but not necessarily under a table. Kids, today, create makeshift tents out of blankets or use a playhouse to execute their role play ideas.
Apparently, architects today had integrated playhouses or little nooks into their school designs.
The new Sandy Hook School has playhouses, or what they call tree houses, in various areas of the school. Jay Brotman, managing partner of Svigals + Partners explained that this is one of their efforts to, “…encourage compassion, prosperity, collaboration, and joy.” These small spaces allow young children to collaborate with each other.
In Japan, AN Kindergarten has little reading nooks shaped like playhouses are at the center of the space. Little nooks are located on the glass balustrades, independently standing on the ground floor, and even under the stairs. They added these features into the design as the architects explained, “In recent years, when children’s physical ability and creativity have been decreased, we expect that they can start improving by setting a variety of playgrounds indoors at different places.”
Flower Kindergarten in Seoul, South Korea has a similar play den under the stairs. Architect Jungmin Nam, head of OA Lab (the studio that designed that school), said that “The stair itself becomes a playground. The space created below and above the stair is utilized as a children’s play den at children’s scale.”
Aside from being a place where collaborative play and learning can thrive, playhouses or little nooks are where children can do free play. Free play is an act where anyone who plays will not be intervened by an authoritative figure.
Why are playhouses and even as simple as makeshift tents out of blankets are loved by kids
From the book, Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids: The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-Based Education, principal and author Rebeca Wild wrote,
“Playhouse provides a place for secret games and undisturbed conversations in an atmosphere of privacy.”
She explained further why playhouses are important,
“In such a prepared environment that offers many stimulating attractions but excludes the possibility of any pressure exercised by adults, it becomes surprisingly clear that each and every child, provided that it has no severe disturbances owing to disrespectful or inattentive treatment, possesses a clear inner direction or guiding force, as it were. This is what leads the child in its choice of activities [free play], makes it possible for the child to find its own rhythm and allows the child to achieve a new balance with each new activity, if permitted to– follow this inner directive force, the child is able to act and react as a self-confident, happy, and helpful human being, despite its tender age and to enjoy each day to the fullest.”
Lastly, “Even at only three or four years of age, many have lost confidence in their own inner direction as a result of the constant intervention and know-it-all behavior of the adults who love them. Some may not even had the complete love and attention of their parents when they came into the world. The purpose of which is to enable them to have basic truth and confidence in life itself.“
Playhouses provide children an opportunity to do their own choice of activities without being intervened by an adult. In little reading nooks, children can read and even talk about the book that they are reading to their peers without being conscious of an authoritative figure (if they were in a library). They could even role-play the books that they read, using the little nooks as their backdrop.
What if young students aren’t given an environment where they can play freely?
“By increasing the amount of time spent in school, expanding homework, harping constantly on the importance of scoring high on school tests, banning children from public spaces unless accompanied by an adult, and replacing free play with adult-led sports and lessons, we have created a world in which children are almost always in the presence of a supervisor, who is ready to intervene, protect, and prevent them from practicing courage, independence, and all the rest that children practice best with peers, away from adults. I have argued elsewhere (Gray, 2011, and here) that this is why we see record levels of anxiety, depression, suicide, and feelings of powerlessness among adolescents and young adults today.“
In conclusion, rather than writing little nooks or playhouses must be integrated into school designs, designing spaces where children can play without an intervening adult, and a space that has a lot of affordances (ways for it to be used) are a must. Designing spaces where kids can grow holistically is an investment for a better world tomorrow.
Last June, I was looking for products and spaces that empathizes with its users. I want to study a lot of them myself because designing is what I want to do. Surprisingly, there isn’t a site dedicated to that certain topic. There is a lot of architecture, industrial design, and interior design blogs and websites but in this era of information overload, I think specializing content is great to easily share the content that you want to see and read online. I discover more and more every day how a lot of things are designed just for the sake of it and not out of observing its users. Fortunately, there are people who observe their users before designing which led to positive changes to the behavior of its users. I had launched the Empathy In Design Blog (see here: https://empathyindesign.wordpress.com/) last July 1, 2020. I post every other day. Currently, I am practicing how to write it in a story-telling way rather than an article full of facts. I believe that architecture, spaces, and products that empathizes with people should be celebrated. I observed in the design world that, sometimes, designers had reduced its users (humans) to merely numbers. One time, the thought of ‘What if I cannot research any content anymore? What will I write?’ came to my mind. However, I tell myself that ‘that’ problem is for my tomorrow’s self to worry about. Right now, there is still a lot of good designs to share and write about. In my posts in Empathy in Design, I wrote it in an angle of how did these designs improved the lives of their users, how did they matter, and how did the made a difference. As Mark Meily stated in his talk Experience Design, “The role of the designers is to improve how one sees the world.” I noticed how my memory improved in remembering all the good designs that I had written. Plus, I am able to understand better how the designer gets to the outcome through constantly recalling it, writing, and researching about it. Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear wrote “The act of making something will force you to learn more deeply than reading ever will.” As my knowledge of design goes deeper through digesting and crafting case studies, I am able to create connections– there are some questions that I had in certain design work but I got the answer for it from a different work. My whys for this project is to spread good designs, to put all of them in one blog, and share it in a way that readers can empathize with as well and apply it to their life. Plus, if someone searches ‘Empathy in Design’ in the google search bar, they would not be disappointed or be discouraged because they had found nothing, but they will get excited once they see that a blog is dedicated solely for designs that empathize with humans. Storing all of this information in my design notebook is a waste because only I can benefit from it.
The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only harmful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. – Annie Dillard
It’s more than a month since I committed to researching content and I find joy in reading and crafting stories of how these designers design for humans. I am really looking forward to every day and what more stories of good designs will I read and share. Umberto Eco said, “To survive, you must tell stories.”
James Corner, a landscape architect, told designer Ingrid Fetell Lee that landscape is more about how we feel, “It’s a whole host of things that will never show up in a photograph. Plants. Scents. Colors. The effects of light and shadow. Water. The sounds of water. Ambient humidity. Texture. Temperature. The effects of mist. The concentration of weather effects and atmospheres… These things are not obvious but they are very powerful and they bring joy.” Ingrid Fetell Lee added, “Being in nature liberates our senses.”
In a TED talk entitled Designing for the Five Senses, designer Jinsop Lee used to ask himself “why is sex is so damn good?“. He found the answer when he used the 5-senses graph.
The perfect experience would be a 10•10•10•10•10. Doing sex uses all of the senses hence, it is considered a pleasurable experience.
I started to look for other examples and concluded why eating, swimming, and traveling are enjoyable experiences for almost everyone– because we actively use our five senses when doing these activities. The same goes when being in nature. These activities lead to sensorial richness which is vital to healthy neural development.
Reversible Destiny Lofts, an amazing architectural work designed with the belief that we can prevent death if we constantly engage in a stimulating environment. In these lofts, corners are curved, floors have lumps everywhere and they are never flat, and bright, vivid colors everywhere. Architect Arakawa and poet Madeline Gins, designers of Reversible Destiny Lofts, believed that the comfort given by modem buildings lead us to an early death. Without enough activity for all of our senses, they push us to a stupor and causing us to say goodbye to the world at an early age.
Reversible Destiny Lofts is an extreme example of sensorial richness but there are still tons of ways wherein we can feed our deprived-senses. Like I mentioned eating, just look at mukbang blogs on YouTube. They eat really well plus, they sound well. When I’m eating noodles, I make slurping sounds to add up to my eating experience.
Designer Ingrid Lee writes, “A sparse environment acts as an anesthetic, numbing our senses and emotions. The abundance of aesthetic does the opposite. It wakes the senses up. It brings us to life.”
Lee, I. F. (2018). Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Little, Brown Spark.
One thing that is significant when designing and a part of the process that should never be left out is: Empathizing With End Users.
The tweet above shows what happens when you take the users out of the design process.
Designing is not all about being tech-y or thinking of a lot of cool features that your competitors do not have. Its about your end users. The end users are the ones who will use the product so if it would not help them at all then, its useless. Hence, we need to understand the users’ circumstances, socioeconomic status, and behavior.
I’m writing this as this might be helpful to designers or people who will be designing products in the future. In our country, we do have a lot of problems. Oftentimes, those problems are born out of the lack of empathy from higher officials.
I’m not ending this post on a sad note. Here are examples of good design. By good design, I mean design that empathizes with people.
Source: Vico Sotto Official Twitter Account
[There are a lot of cities who had done this, not just in Pasig.]
This is a really good example since people would follow the one-meter social distancing if we had set up cues for them to follow.
I had read once from a book that having visual cues is very helpful in regulating user behaviour. For example, it is easier for us to stop our vehicles when we see the red light, than without traffic lights.
Its not really that people do not have discipline but they just need cues to follow. Oftentimes, all it takes is a good design.
The Rolling Palengke (literally Market On Wheels in English) is a great initiative.
I had seen vendors who sell fish, vegetables, and meat while riding on a bicycle with a side car (where the products are placed) ever since I was a kid but the fact the it became really popular after one local government initiated this means that a lot of people had not seen that.
Rolling Palengke / Market On Wheels is where food ingredients are placed on a vehicle and it goes to areas where people had to take transportation to go to the market. Basically, the ‘market’ goes near your place. This initiative took place after public transportation is banned and people are forced to walk to get to the market.
The above examples of good design were initiatives by several local government units and were answers to the problems faced by the users. I am happy writing all of the examples because the actions of these LGUs gave me so much more hope that we can improve our country with good design.
Lastly, we, Filipinos are currently facing various issues right now. This carrd contains information, actionables, and organizations where you can donate to help.
Shared is a monthly blog post that contains books, podcasts, movies, K-dramas, articles, TED Talks, and documentaries that Irecommend to everyone.
“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences.” – Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist
This book shares why a lot of intervention programs don’t work. At the same time, it shares what does work, all backed up by scientific research. Through this book, I found the writing exercise called Best Possible Selves Exercise. College students who did the exercise for four days consistently became more optimistic and strive harder to reach their goals (they tested this after three weeks).
Austin Kleon wrote in his book, Steal Like An Artist, “Everything builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.” This podcast episode talks about architectural buildings that build on what came before (well, almost everything is). As well as, how duplicate architecture developments in China are called ‘knock-offs’ while most state-building in the US is often, ‘inspired by Greek & Roman Architecture’.
I highly recommend this KDrama as it has a great character development from the main character, the crown prince of the Joseon dynasty. The first few episodes were heartbreaking but I knew that it was necessary for the Crown Prince to grown into a wise King.
As an architecture student, Interior Design Masters helped me a lot on what I need to know about designing. The show explains why establishing an emotional connection to the visitor through design is significant in these times where online shopping is preferred, otherwise, why would people come?
Yuri Zaitsev mentioned in his talk entitled “Game Principle To Design Products For Fun” that there are several types of fun in a game. One of them is fellowship- the sense of community in a game. In other words, players working together towards the same goal.
I have been playing Working at a Pizza Place for an hour or less for a few days now. In this game, there are roles such as the manager, cashier, cook, pizza boxer, delivery, and supplier. Each role has a specific job. Any player can choose and change their role whenever they wanted.
You will be playing this game in real-time with other 11 players or less. Sometimes, some players will not do their jobs and just be idle but, thank Heavens, some players do their jobs. Altogether, everyone works well.
The main reason why I am so hooked at this game is that I feel that I have a purpose. In the game, everyone’s job is crucial similar to a real-life pizza place. The game makes you feel that what you are doing has a purpose because you are not working only for your gain. Other players in the server rely on you as well so that they could properly do their jobs too.
Fellowship is the type of fun that the designer of Working at a Pizza Place has incorporated in the game. I am someone who volunteers especially if it is something related to community building. Probably why I find WAAPP absolutely fun.
Moreover, once I had learned the different types of fun in a game, I began to look for examples in the real-world that incorporate the various types of fun.
But before that, here are the other types of fun that I learned from Yuri Zaitsev:
● Narrative – has a story to tell
● Sensation – uses various senses
● Fantasy – turns on your imagination
● Challenge – learning a new skill
● Discovery – discovering something new
● Abnegation – a sense of peace or real one
An example is the Adventure Series™.
Seeing first-hand how a child reacted to seeing his work, the MRI Scanner, like one big scary machine, prompted designer Doug Dietz to design the MRI suit in a human-centered way.
The Adventure Series™ incorporated the fantasy and narrative types of fun in its design. Kids enter the room and spend their session inside like they are the main character of a fantasy book. Operators follow a script that they need to narrate to pediatric patients throughout the session. Fantastical elements are painted from the walls, floor, ceiling, and even the MRI Scanner itself. Doug Dietz and his team were able to make the MRI session for young patients fun and memorable instead of something dreadful and traumatizing to some.
80% of pediatric patients sedated before to only 2 patients after the first year of Adventure Series™.
Months ago, my sister wore a bright, yellow-colored shirt and I was amazed. It’s just a plain, bright, yellow shirt so why does it make me feel happy and bright?
Last night, I watched designer Ingrid Lee talked about joy in her TED talk, “How do tangible things make you feel intangible joy?”
She asked a lot of people ‘What brings you joy? When did you last see it? What color is it?”. Eventually, she had accumulated answers and she discovered that these ‘sensations of joy’ have something in common: round objects, curved corners, “pops of bright color, symmetrical shapes, a sense of abundance and multiplicity, and a feeling of lightness and elevation”
Going back to the bright, yellow shirt (which my sister got from my dad’s closet), I got one as well. And I always wear it while I’m at university. Whenever I wore it, I always feel cheerful and bright. Then, I started choosing products that are brightly colored over the dull ones. Noticed that when I wore the yellow-colored shirt, I used the word ‘happy’ to describe what I’m feeling but after watching Ingrid Lee’s talk what I am feeling is, in fact, joy.
An episode of the 99 percent invisible podcast entitled, “Instant Gramification” talked about this popular photo online:
I had seen this photo once and through this podcast, I found out that this was actually a facade of a design studio.
It started when people who are just passing by the studio, saw this façade, got out of their vehicles, and took a photo with the façade on the background, and uploaded it on their Instagram accounts. Eventually, people from all over the world are starting to come to see and take a photo with the façade. It was not clearly expressed in the podcast why people would travel just to see it (because it was not the point of the podcast) but now I know why.
Seeing the façade made people who have seen it feel joyful. Joy is feeling good at the moment, right now while happiness is feeling good over time. But, as said by Ingrid Lee in her TED talk, that these ‘sensations of joy’ are universally joyful across race, gender, and ethnicity means that we, as humans, are celebrating the same things! We can all be joyful at the same time and isn’t it amazing?
Last May 2020, I learned how to draw (again) with the help of Mark Kistler through his book, You Can Draw in 30 Days.
I was looking for resources about drawing and I discovered this gem. The book is composed of 30 lessons and each lesson can be completed in less than 30 minutes per day. If you do not have 30 minutes to spare then 15 minutes will do. I completed most of my lessons in less than 15 minutes (promise!). Turn your everyday into a seed.
“If you work on something a little bit everyday, you end up with something that is massive.” – Kenneth Goldsmith
The lessons are extremely beginner-friendly. Do not worry so much on being the best in the beginning. The main goal of the book is to have everyone overcome their fear of a blank page and a paper.
It’s hard to be “best” right away, so commit to rapid and continuous movements. – from the book, Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Here are some of my drawings in chronological order. Take a look at my progress 😭.
Lesson 1 – 4/29/20
Mark Kistler’s method is having his students draw simple shapes first like this circle. It doesn’t have to perfect. Just do it.
Lesson 2 and 3
Spheres everywhere. Noticed how my shading got better than the first lesson? And how my circle got better as well.
“The more you draw, the more you will really begin to see the fascinating details in the real world around you.” – Mark Kistler
Lesson 5 – 5/1/20
Starting Lesson 5, I began to write my thoughts beside my drawings.
Lesson 8 – 5/4/20
One of my favorite lessons! I grew up as someone who thinks that ‘drawing is just not for me’. Hence, being able to draw a koala is a massive achievement for me. I can’t believe that I got to draw an animal omg.
“Albert Bandura used the process of guided mastery— a series of small successes— to help people gain courage and overcome deep-seated phobias.” – from the book, Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Lesson 14 – 5/12/20
This lesson taught me how it is so easy to draw a flower. I will never look at a flower the same way again.
Lesson 15 – 5/12/20
I had so much fun doing this lol. As you can see, the lines aren’t perfect but that’s not the point. The point is to practice and having fun while doing it.
Lesson 16 – 5/12/20
When I was a kid, I always wonder how animators can draw this. Back then, I was wondering. Now, I am doing it!!
Lesson 18 – 5/14/20
The quote written on the scroll is from the book, Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl, “He who knows the why for his existence can bear almost any how.”
Lesson 20 & 21
This drawings prove to me that I am indeed improving.
And Lesson 30 is the best lesson for me. Lesson 30 is how to draw a human hand. And why is it the best lesson for me?
A little background, last July 2019, as when I was just starting to (really) learn how to draw as an architecture student. Our professor asked us to draw our hand. Here is what I drew:
And now, this is the hand that I drew last May 18, 2020.
Woah. The progress that I made in less than 30 days. Also, in the book, there are drawings of other students as well, that will make you feel that you are not alone in this journey.
And I continued to draw more.
Mark Kistler has another book for those who want to draw more! It’s called: You Can Draw It In Just 30 Minutes.
Never be afraid to try something new. We never know what will happen in the future so let’s do the best thing that we can in the 24 hours that was given to us.
Lastly, I am grateful to Mr. Mark Kistler for his books. You truly had helped lots and lots of people. What I was given, I will share.