69 Things That Made My Year (2020)

  1. Claire’s Essays (this blog) – the start of my creative journey; going through life using a compass instead of a map
  2. Empathy In Design – a personal project of mine; it is a blog that feature designs that empathizes with users
  3. Tom Kelley and David Kelley’s Creative Confidence
  4. Austin Kleon’s (life-changing books): Steal Like An Artist, Keep Going, and Show Your Work!
  5. James Clear’s 3-2-1 newsletter
  6. Austin Kleon’s newsletter
  7. Youth 4 Sustainable Cities Program of Makesense
  8. Makesense Microinternship Program (read the articles I wrote for this internship here and here)
  9. Abstract: The Art of Design Season 2
  10. Running Man
  11. Hospital Playlist Season 1
  12. Workman
  13. Itaewon Class
  14. Sixth Sense Season 1
  15. Interior Design Masters Season 1 (Specifically: Episodes 3 and 6)
  16. Ingrid Fetell Lee’s book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness
  17. The Little Prince (2015)
  18. Klaus (2019)
  19. Meet The Alumni Series of our college publication, the Freehand.
  20. Voices of CAFA series
  21. Architecture Week Rewind series
  22. The Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore
  23. Happy Jail (2019) documentary
  24. Architecture 101 by Nicole Bridge
  25. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.
  26. How Norway designed a more humane prison
  27. You Can Draw in 30 days by Mark Kistler
  28. Little Women (2019)
  29. Money Heist and Money Heist: The Phenomenon
  30. Andy Grammer – Keep Your Head Up
  31. I got super interested in learning how to use Adobe Illustrator.
  32. Ruler: Master of the Mask
  33. Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin
  34. Cas Holman’s designs
  35. Les Miserables’s Do You Hear The People Sing
  36. The Greatest Showman’s Come Alive and This Is Me
  37. for King & Country – God Only Knows
  38. Emma Scott’s Rush and her other books.
  39. Mia Sheridan’s Most Of All You and Archer’s Voice
  40. The Aesthetics of Joy
  41. Austin Kleon’s blog.
  42. James Clear’s blog
  43. Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away
  44. Game Series by Ariesa Domingo
  45. Love In the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
  46. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express.
  47. Sunday Snippets newsletter by Ali Abdaal
  48. The Decline of Play – Peter Gray
  49. Ha Hyun Woo – Stone Block
  50. Aswang (2019) documentary
  51. My completed short stories for this year which are a product of things that I consume: Killed by Aswang, A Note From An Inmate, Passengers, Words Do Hurt, and The Strongest Woman In The World
  52. Tunnel (2016)
  53. Alice in Borderland (2020)
  54. Sweet Home (webtoon)
  55. Along With The Gods: Two Worlds and Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days
  56. Zombies (2018)
  57. Handmade notebooks out of used papers
  58. Integrating Nooks Into School Designs
  59. How architecture changes for the deaf
  60. Where Joy Hides and How to find it
  61. John P. Weiss’ blog
  62. Daily Stoic newsletter
  63. 99 pi’s blog
  64. Commonplace notebooks
  65. Celeste Headlee’s Do Nothing and We Need To Talk
  66. Scenius.
  67. Philippine History Through the Lens of Local Church Architecture
  68. “You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”
  69. Want to be an artist? Watch Groundhog Day.

Things I Noticed in Over The Moon As An Architecture Student

Over The Moon is a 2020 animation film available on Netflix and here I’ll share the things I noticed while watching the film.

For the first few minutes of the film, I immediately thought that ‘this is Chinese’ pertaining to where the film is set and the characters themselves.

When I had the thought, it got me thinking of how did I instinctively knew that the film is set in China? And so what I did was I looked for clues.


Its really amazing how all these details have come together— nature  technological advancement, folktales, and asian culture to craft an amazing story.

Everything sums up and supports the development of the characters. Also, I hope there would be more animation films, not just in Japan, and China but in other countries as well that truly depicts their authenticity. It would be an amazing learning experience to compare different animation films (from various countries) and discuss what’s different in each of them and by then, we will be able to understand each other more deeply through film and design.

Rethinking Prisons

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.

FULL: https://philippines.makesense.org/2020/10/08/rethinking-prisons/?fbclid=IwAR3rPGT8aO7mHZ5J6ilZbrNJUr_8_IrDq52nONtS21tOHO0ghWcSML-ARNw


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.

No to Throwaway Culture: Products that Are Intentionally Designed to Last Long

In an era wherein users are encouraged to constantly buy products that are new and innovative today but next year, those same brands release another set of products with better technical specifications than the previous ones, so what we do is to buy again and throw away what we had previously bought and so on.

Many designers today had realized that the throwaway culture and designing products with an intent to only last for a certain time frame or had cause users a lot of money every year and creating more waste in this world.

I came across four products that are intentionally designed to last for decades. I highly recommend these products for starting families.

Furniture: bekind.

bekind is a Norwegian furniture brand, where their brand name is also a conscious mindset. Their bekind mindset enables them to,

“…build furniture for generations – creating a sustainable world of furniture – free from a throw-away mentality. Earth conscious lifestyle starts at home – with small things. 

They have two products: bekind.EINS and bekind.ZWEI.

Source: bekind Kickstarter page

Source: bekind Kickstarter page

Both of these products have a lot of affordances, meaning they could be used in various ways. Bekind.EINS could be a chair for children or a stool for adults. On the other hand, bekind.ZWEI can be seating for both adults and children and it can also function as a table.

With their versatility, users will never have to worry about buying pieces of furniture once they or their children will grow out of it.

Fashion/School Supply: Bag

The Japanese backpack: facts and origins of the randoseru
Source: Go Go Nihon

Randoseru is a result of an idea to end comparison and wealth advantage in classrooms. On an island with limited resources, it was important for Japanese people to consume things in moderation. Hence, they intentionally design products that last for years.

One example of that is Randoseru. It is a bag used by students throughout their six years in primary school and passing it down to a younger sibling. Randoseru bags are known throughout the country for its durability and great quality. The trend started in 1887 after the crown prince of that time wore it t school. Until now, Japanese students still use Randoseru bags to school. Even with all these new school bags from the West, Japanese people still choose to buy randoseru.

Product: Hanger

Source: Ensu Design

One problem for a growing family is the need to buy various kinds of hanger for various type of clothing (ex. hangers for kids’ clothes, hanger for working clothes and at-home clothes, etc)

Source: Ensu Design

Well, here is Mozu Hanger. This hanger suits most types of clothing and various occasions as well. Its slim profile makes it suitable for suitcases when you are constantly traveling abroad and allows more space in the closet. Its form eliminates the hassle of buying baby hangers as well as the act of stretching the collars just to take the clothes off the hanger.


I’m gonna take me seriously.

I’m gonna take me seriously…

These are words from designer Ruth Carter’s poem Seriously. She performed Seriously in her own episode on Abstract: The Art of Design Season 2.

I’m gonna take ME seriously.
I’ve taken school, parents, friends, poets seriously.
I’ve known the cracker to be seriously dangerous.
 I’ve taken daytime nighttime rhetoric seriously
and been wounded by lovers of slick black rapping.
I’m gonna look in a mirror each time I pass one
and smile at my image sayin’.
 “Yeah, sister, it ain’t easy,
but move on beautifully past it.
Keep holdin’ your head higher
‘cause your best is yet to come.”
I’m gonna take me seriously.
And study myself.
Get a PhD in Ruth Carter
and dare anyone to be an authority on me.
‘Cause I’ll be wounded with Ruth’s beauty, learning, love
and will be dangerous.
I’m gonna be serious about me and live.

Ruth Carter is the costume designer for the film Black Panther and many more films. She shared that she does not want the clothes that she designs to be labeled as ‘costumes’. Ruth wanted the clothes to look like something that those people would wear if it was in real life. She also addresses the prejudice that she designs costumes because she loves fashion or sewing. No. She wants to tell stories.

I love the fact that she gives utmost attention to every detail in each costume she design. In totality, the clothes that she designs for a character must show their personality and history. In Black Panther, the clothes of every character in the film have been greatly influenced by the clothing of earlier African tribes. Ruth Carter definitely does not only tell stories of culture and personality through her designs but also making sure that they are historically correct.

Her sensitivity and empathy are what make her work amazing. At one part of the episode in Abstract: Art of Design, Ruth Carter shared her answer when people ask her about her process in designing costumes for Black Panther, she was like, “Oh, yeah! I go home and cry in my pillow every night because I’m scared.”

That statement was on point. While I was creating an artwork, I was so stressed because it did not turn in a way that I imagined it to look like. The whole process made me question the multitude of research studies that conclude, “Art is therapy.” In retrospect, I did relax the next day after completing that artwork because I don’t have it bugging my mind anymore.

In connection with the poem, I felt this warmth while watching Ruth Carter performs it. The line

Yeah, sister, it ain’t easy, but move beautifully on past it. Keep holding your head higher, ’cause your best is yet to come.

hit me differently.

Creating art is not easy. That is a given. However, I have to do it because how will I ever get better at it if I ain’t gonna, do it?

I’m gonna take myself seriously and live.

Various Social Distancing Visual Cues Around the World

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.

High Line Park © Timothy Schenck

High Line Park © Timothy Schenck


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.

Pizza Giotto © Francesco Noferini | Caret Studio

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 Murals
© Stella Artois

Social Distancing Murals
© Stella Artois

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.

© Lucas

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.

Gibson, E. (2020, July). Paula Scher covers High Line in green dots to encourage social distancing. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/07/21/paula-scher-graphics-high-line-social-distancing/

Hitti, N. (2020, May). Caret Studio installs gridded social-distancing system inside Italian piazza. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/05/12/caret-studio-social-distancing-stodistante-installation-vicchio/

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

Robin. (2020, July). Stella Artois supports pubs’ safe reopening with social distancing floor art installations. Retrieved from Net Imperative: http://www.netimperative.com/2020/07/06/stella-artois-supports-pubs-safe-reopening-with-social-distancing-floor-art-installations/


Integrating Nooks Into School Designs

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 by Jungmin Nam
Flower Kindergarten | © Kyungsub Shin

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?

Author and psychologist Peter Gray wrote in an article entitled The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It,

“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 anxietydepressionsuicide, 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.



Frearson, A. (2016, February). Flower Kindergarten by Jungmin Nam features curvy classrooms and colourful corridors. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/02/26/flower-kindergarten-oa-lab-curvy-colourful-classrooms-seoul-south-korea/

Gray, P. (2016, October 31). The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201610/the-culture-childhood-we-ve-almost-destroyed-it

Wild, R. (2000). Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids: The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-based Education. Shambhala.

Winston, A. (2016, March). Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro’s kindergarten features house-shaped reading nooks. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/03/03/hibino-sekkei-youji-no-shiro-atsugi-nozomi-kindergarten-house-shaped-reading-nooks-kanagawa-prefecture-japan/

Yalcinkaya, G. (2017, October). New Sandy Hook school is designed to “prevent unwanted intrusions of any kind”. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2017/10/26/new-sandy-hook-school-designed-prevent-unwanted-intrusions-kind-news-architecture/


Empathy in Design

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.”

Everyday Is A New Beginning

We, Filipinos, are currently facing various issues right now aside from the pandemic. This carrd contains information, actionables, and organizations where you can donate to help. Thank you very much!


“Everyday Is A New Beginning”

These words are written on a giant Post-It note on the wall of the last room of designer Paul Smith‘s exhibition “Hello My Name is Paul Smith”.

When asked whether he felt he had “made it”, Paul Smith said, “No. Never.”

Just a week ago, I finished writing an article for my internship (check it out here) and I breathed out a big sigh of relief.

And I just paused.

I remember the nervous feeling that I felt before submitting my article is similar to what I felt before taking an exam or finals week. During those times in the past, I remind myself, “When I’m done with this exam or project, I’ll be okay and I will never feel this way anymore.”

But, obviously, I was wrong. When we overcome a challenge, another comes up. The feeling of ‘I made it’ will stop as soon as another challenge rises up. I should get used to these nervous feelings from now on and still continue to do regardless.

Thinking that I will never ‘made it’ comforts me because there is no finish line waiting for me, no one can tell me whether I am done or not. My life would be one long hell of a journey that will probably end when I die.

We just gotta do our work. Once a work is done, there is another work, hopefully, a bit tougher than before for us to grow and learn.

Why Do We Love Being In Nature?

We, Filipinos, are currently facing various issues right now aside from the pandemic. This carrd contains information, actionables, and organizations where you can donate to help. Thank you very much!


selective photo of a girl holding bubbles
© Leo Rivas | Unsplash

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.”

Reading the above statements from the book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness created an AHA! moment in my brain. So that is why we love being in nature or be surrounded by nature because it is a sensory-rich environment.

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.

TED. (2013, August 6). Design for All 5 Senses [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6wjC0sxD2o&t=4s