Tag Archives: sketching

End of ALP – Back in Singapore

7 Sep

By Chun Yong


*Deleted 10GB worth of files from ALP folder*

Finally, back in non-40 degrees Singapore. So much to wrap up, so many people to thank, where should I start.

Hmm… I think I’ll start from the end then. We designed fans. Like, absolutely cool leaf-blowing arduino-controllable epic whothehellcouldhavethoughtofthis fans. I don’t have many photos of the actual prototypes that were made (even more awesome, by the way), but here are the equally amazing 3D renderings we did:

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Pretty cool huh? Okay, I’m exaggerating, but still! We all learned a lot about 3D modelling and rendering and the pain one’s computer will have to go through every time it has to render one of our works of 3D art.


Doing these 3D models really take up someone’s time! They can be very challenging since it’s like you’re drawing in 3D space. Here’s a 3D model of a sports car that I tried to do.

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Not all renderings turn out as nicely though. (Notice how I show you nice ones) If one does not have an idea of what he or she wants to create, it becomes quite the abomination. Thankfully, our skills in sketching for quick idea generation and communication has vastly improved (or at least the interest has been sparked).

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Tip: Draw with thick marker pens on big A3 paper. That way, whatever you draw looks nice. On a more serious note, it really did take a lot of drawings and sketching to get to some presentable level. It takes a lot of exposure and practice to get that line to curve the way you want it to. At the rate we were using paper however, we were starting to get pretty concerned about the environment. That’s why I decided to get….


… a drawing tablet!! It may not be a wacom, but it definitely does it’s job in letting you produce digital sketches.

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All this was done using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. It was really cool to get to learn how to use all these software that allowed us to express our ideas and design products that could one day be made a reality.

It was in all a great experience, not just because of the projects we helped with or the facilities that were provided to us by our generous ZJU hosts, but because we had 4 really really (did I mention ‘really’?) long months to pick up any new skills and perspectives to be better designers for people.

As a show of our gratitude, we organised a pizza party a few days before we flew back to Singapore. Sadly, I lack the photos of the party (and the exhibition, and many other occasions.. was too busy experiencing everything to take a photo), I’ll just have to count on your imagination for now, so just picture sixty pizzas, twenty bottles of drinks, and music blasting from some speakers and people playing NBA 2013 in the middle of everything. I know, awesome party, you had to be there.

Every group also made a small memento for our ZJU mentors, most were decorated cards or photos to remember the 4 months of shared memories. As for our dear professor Ying…


… TA-DAAA!! You can imagine his face when we gave this to him. No? Well, me neither, he didn’t turn up at the party unfortunately :(. We passed it to the other ZJU people to pass it to him the next time he was there.

And so, after all the goodbyes, and packing, and checking out of the hotel, and getting on the bus, and yadee yadaa, we are all safely back in Singapore. As far as product design experience goes, it was extremely enriching, not because they guided us every step of the way, but precisely the opposite: we were given freedom (almost) every step of the way. Freedom to explore, freedom to learn, and most of all, freedom to fail. Should anyone who is considering embarking on this journey stumble across this blog, the only advice I can offer is to always have an open mind and to be willing to try out new things that could possibly just continue to not only give you that drive to do something great, but also to figure out what great things you can and want to accomplish.

See you in the upcoming Term!

GLP – Ordinary week with an extraordinary experience

25 Jul

By Yi Sheng

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In our architectural drawing class, all of us sketched a panoramic view of the scenery along Charles River, when viewed from Memorial Drive. It was a challenge indeed to combine together all our individual drawings, which are of different styles. We added a whole lot of interesting graphics to the final sketch, which comprises Godzilla, minions from Despicable Me and even a Pacific Rim robot. I realized that after the sketch was completed, it was a piece that conveyed so much vibrancy and movement, which were presented in a variety of styles. I really liked how we worked together to produce a single masterpiece.



Want to take a look at the our masterpiece? Check it out at the SUTD Facebook page and give us your comments.

The E-Club session comprised two parts: a workshop on communication and a discussion on ethics and conflict. We really had fun during the workshop, where each of us expressed a statement in various tones of voice.


I personally agreed to help as a “test subject” for Aarti’s research on whether sketching improves one’s ability to tackle design problems. During the 30-minute design challenge that I was tasked to complete, I was not allowed to sketch. This compelled me to visualise a few preliminary designs in my mind, from which I selected the final design. As the objective is to design a mechanism to vertically displace a ping pong ball as much as possible, I built a tower that has an axle on top.  The ping pong ball is then raised to a height of more than 40 centimetres by a simple pulley system that makes use of a 500g load. I had lots of fun, and this was far more valuable than the five-dollar Amazon Gift Voucher that I received.


The Media Lab visit was indeed an eye-opener for most of us, as we get to see how designers who work there play with Lego and music instruments to create new and innovative products that have their unique relevance to our lives. For instance, the sensor attached to the basketball hoop that measures the amount of force exerted by the player during a dunk actually aroused the interest of the NBA. This technology has currently been used in some of the NBA games played. How fascinating!

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On the same day at night, we visited Rethink Robots, which has a famous product called Baxter, a robot of which arms have seven degrees of freedom of movement. This actually allows picking up objects to be easier and more efficient. We enjoyed testing the robot’s reaction to unexpected situations. There’s definitely a lot of high-level programming that went on in the development of Baxter’s “brain”!

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Terence, Dexter and I went to watch the MIT Summer Philharmonic Orchestra at the auditorium inside Kresge Building. They performed two pieces: Symphony No. 2 in B minor composed by Alexander Borodin and Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, Op. 95 composed by Antonin Dvorak.  The concert lasted for one hour, with George Ogata conducting the entire orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed the two pieces, although I believe that the orchestra can improve on coming in together at significant moments of the pieces. That being said, I feel that it is really challenging to try to conduct a whole orchestra consisting of so many people.


To supplement the learning that we have during ceramics lessons, Dexter, Jin Kai and I went to get our hands wet and dirty at the ceramics lab on Saturday. I managed to improve my skills slightly, in the area of centering my clay, although there is still much more room for improvement. Nonetheless, my interest in ceramics never seems to diminish; I will never give up in making more interesting pieces!


ALP – One month in Ningbo (宁波)

18 Jul

By Benjamin Lee

Hi everyone,

Earlier this week, about 20 of us just returned from Ningbo city, where we spent a few weeks for our company internship. Here’s a short photo essay of our time there and the stuff we did.

Our office space for one month.

Our office space for one month.

We were all based at the Daye Design office at 和丰创意广场. It was a small but cozy office, and somehow all 20+ of us, including our team leaders, managed to find our own corner to work.

One week after arriving, we visited companies which specialised in our respective products in Cixi (慈溪). Our sub-group was tasked to design a coffee machine, so we met up with AAA Groups’ engineers to present our initial ideas and find out more about what they did. Our initial doubts were confirmed: the Chinese really don’t drink a lot of coffee, especially when compared to tea; the sales of coffee machines were extremely low, and most of the machines were manufactured for export.

Meeting AAA Groups' engineers to learn more about coffee machines.

Yes, they found out we don’t really drink espresso shots either, and offered us a few drinks. We were on a caffeine high for two hours after this.

And of course…… we did some exploring over the weekends too. The second weekend there was spent at 东钱湖 (slightly larger than 西湖), which was a 45 min bus ride away from our hotel.

Biking at 东钱湖.

Taking a picture of Ian taking a picture. We rented bikes for 1.5 hrs.

A larger expedition was planned to Zhoushan (舟山), located just off the coast to the east. A few peeps from Hangzhou came all the way out to join us for the trip.

Group photo in the middle of the road at 朱家尖. Don't worry, there was barely any traffic at these farmlands. (not in photo: Amanda, who was sketching the scenery a few kilometres back)

Group photo in the middle of the road at 朱家尖. Don’t worry, there was barely any traffic at these farmlands. (not in photo: Amanda, who was sketching the scenery a few kilometres back)

And as usual, we woke up at some ungodly hour to catch the……

The sunrise that we got up at 4am to catch. The fog didn't give us a chance.

Sunrise, 30th June 2013. The fog didn’t give us a chance. Oh well.

We then split up, some of us headed to Putuoshan (普陀山), while others went back to 定海区 on 舟山 itself. I went with the group to Putuoshan, which is considered as a sacred mountain in Chinese Buddhism.

At one with the world.

At one with the world.

All you can eat buffet for 10元 at 普济寺. Well, the only dish available was vegetables in soup, which still tasted good.

All you can eat buffet (before the food ran out) for 10元 at 普济寺. Well, the only dish available was vegetables in soup. But it still tasted good.

The rain didn't deter many tourists / visitors from visiting the 南海观音.

The rain didn’t deter many tourists / visitors from visiting the 南海观音.

After the end of the short trip, it was back to sketching and modelling new ideas and refining existing ones (and discarding many more).

What my office desk looked like most of the time. Note the bottles of coffee on the right.

What my office desk looked like most of the time. Note the bottles of coffee on the right. (we didn’t really need them actually, just thought that drinking coffee was kinda relevant to our project : \ )

And summer slowly began to set in… the overcast skies cleared, and the weather became as hot as (or even hotter than) what we experienced back home. The air wasn’t as humid though, so I guess it was mildly bearable for short periods.

Summer brought about some gorgeous sunsets (along with sweltering temperatures).

Well, there were some gorgeous sunsets too.


And of course, the compulsory shot of the 宁波 city skyline.

And of course, the compulsory shot of the 宁波 city skyline.

Before we knew it, the weeks had gone by, and it was finally time to leave Ningbo.

Exchanging contacts on WeChat with the designers on our last day of work.

Exchanging contacts on WeChat with the designers on our last day of work.

Unfortunately, our last weekend coincided with the estimated arrival time of typhoon Soulik, so we cancelled our plans, stocked up on food and water, and bunked in in our hotel rooms to brave out the storm.

Fortunately, we didn’t experience any impacts of the typhoon (if you don’t count the intense downpour on Saturday evening), so while we missed out on a final trip around the city, we all managed to return to Hangzhou safe and sound.

And now, back to sketching and modelling new ideas and refining existing ones (and discarding many more) : \

ALP – Plant Factory 凯旋!

16 Jul


This is Yam Huo from the Plant Factory theme and we have embarked on our next phase back in IDI, ZJU, Hangzhou.

However, before we rush ahead, let me just do a little reminiscing of what happened for us during the previous phase over at Changxing (长兴). I’ve not included many photos this time, as Scott has uploaded many photos and done a wonderful job for his previous blogpost.

We started off with designing and conducting our experiments from scratch, and we are now continuing our experiments back in Hangzhou. Indeed, it was not an easy feat dismantling, transporting and fixing these 24 boxes up again. However, it is gratifying when we observe the results which tallied with our hypothesis.

With regard to the product development process, we did our market research, customer analysis, business model development, ideas sketching, Arduino and Processing programming. We also came up with the final renderings of our designs via Rhino, Keyshot and Photoshop.

On top of this, we have had our fair share of farm life. Take a look at our daily check-list: spraying pesticides, picking out caterpillars, watering the crops, weeding, battling the fiercest beetles, centipedes or spiders that we can find, playing with kittens and a really adorable pup, Ah Biao.

Ah Biao!

Ah Biao!

One of the most memorable experiences was that of plucking Chinese Bayberries (杨梅) off the trees. Chinese Bayberries became my favourite fruits when I first tried them in Hangzhou; they simply held my tongue captive . But these wild ones, they were nasty. They were so sour they could make the bravest souls cringe. However, we, members of the Plant Factory team, were made of tougher stuff. The low-lying fruits were few and far between and most of them were out of our reach. Nevertheless, we had brains and piggybacked one another to reach greater heights. And, that moment of ingenuity was shattered when we saw two villagers beside us using a ladder.

The low-lying fruits!

The low-lying fruits!

Jiasheng preparing to catch the falling bayberries.

Jiasheng preparing to catch the falling bayberries.

We caught loads of snails, clams, and lobsters from the streams in the farm and had a lobster and escargot feast on our dinner tables the following day. We also harvested cherry tomatoes and the vegetables which we grew from day one. They were indeed delicious to say the least. It might have been the placebo effect, but we reaped what we sowed and this was fulfilling in itself.

Planted, Nurtured and Blossomed

Planted, Nurtured and Blossomed

Escargots and Clams feast!

Escargots and Clams feast!

Rows upon rows of vegetables.

Rows upon rows of vegetables.

Ripe for harvesting!

Ripe for harvesting!

Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was when Ms. Corinna and Ms. Deborah paid us a visit at the farm. It was really thoughtful of them to travel all the way and meet up with us. It was great to see some familiar faces again!

In addition to working really hard, we do know about playing hard as well. We had a little break last week and we headed over to Shanghai, Suzhou, Beijing and more. Personally, I just came off a 24 hours train ride from Shaolin Temple and  Ping Yao (平遥古镇), which is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world with a history dating back 2700 years ago.  And, we came back to really good news: our team’s featured in The Straits Times and Zao Bao!

We were featured!

We were featured!

We have just had a presentation and interaction session with 应老师, who’s really one of the coolest Chinese Profs we have met around here. Looking ahead, we will now need to do a final consolidation of our ideas, prototyping and eventually an exhibition. Perhaps, by then, more of us will understand why Plant Factory may change and better our world.

ALP – Happenings in the farm

30 Jun

By Scott Chiang (Theme 9 – Plant Factory)

Hi, I’m here to provide you with some updates on the elusive Plant Factory team.

Yes, the team that stays in the “farm” most of the time while the rest resides in the city.

So what has happened since the last time we posted?

Well, loads of stuff happened.

Firstly, the crops that we planted have grown really huge.

The patch started only with a little shoot in the first few days.

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Then in a few weeks…

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And after another week

The insects started feeding on those tender leaves

The insects started feeding on those tender leaves

Weeds start to grow

Weeds start to grow


It was as though we were growing weeds

It was as though we were growing weeds

and we had to start plucking them out till they are cleared

and we had to start plucking them out till they are cleared

Next, we also grew plants in our little experimental boxes.

The purpose of these experiments was to investigate how certain factors will affect the growth of the plants.

Remember them?

Remember them?

These trays go into the boxes

These trays go into the boxes

and are left to grow indoors

and are left to grow indoors

This is how they look like now

This is how they look like now

Every now and then, we had to “pay” for our stay… (just kidding!)

By plucking cherry tomatoes!

By plucking cherry tomatoes!

Look at how happy they are with their bountiful harvest

Look at how happy they are with their bountiful harvest

too bad, it's not entirely for our consumption

too bad, it’s not entirely for our consumption


The aftermath

The aftermath

Wait, is Plant Factory only about planting?

Are we city kids here to learn to be farmers?

Nah, like most of the other themes we have to learn sketching too.

To do that, we even invited a mentor from another theme to teach us.


Look at how serious we are.



even in the dark, we sketched

even in the dark, we sketched

Other than sketching, we also had to understand what our prospective customers want and need.

Hence, we headed to the streets in Hangzhou during the weekend to ask for interviews.

They were like, please.....

They were like, please…..

Interview at the interviewee's home to better understand his background

Interview at the interviewee’s home to better understand his background

Following that, we consolidated the data we had and presented our ideas for our product, the plant factory.



Then we had another mentor to teach us about formulating a business model for our product.


Formulating our business model

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Presenting them

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On one weekend, we decided to embark on an adventure and explored our surroundings.

we went up a hill

we went up a hill

where there was a monastery

where there was a monastery

where the elusive pagoda resides

where the elusive pagoda resides

we stumbled into the bamboo forest

we stumbled into the bamboo forest

and braved the suspension bridge

and braved the suspension bridge

We slogged, we designed and we had fun.

That’s what we did in Plant Factory!

Cya, Scott signs off.

ALP – A week at ZJU

24 May

By Seow Chun Yong

Whew, already a week has passed?! That was fast. We finally started our ALP proper. First major announcement to us was that themes 1,3, and 4 were now merged into one big design group, and we were to divide ourselves into 4 groups. Each group would select either an electric fan, a power plug, an iron, or a coffee machine, as their design task. My group chose to design electric fans.

First off, we were all tasked to practice our sketching skills. We were also introduced to four design inspirations: Biomimicry, behavioral mimicry, cultural mimicry, and random mimicry. By Friday, we had to come up with at least 2 design ideas related to our chosen home appliance per one of the four design inspirations.

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Today came, and we were all eager to share our sketches and ideas with the people from ZJU.

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While all our ideas were really awesome and novel, we found that it wasn’t exactly what the ZJU professor (Yin Shifu/Laoshi) wanted. He metaphorically stabbed our ideas, saying that we were selling them like engineers. Instead, we should be selling the design process as a designer. No doubt, he said, that the ideas were really wonderful. He wanted us to sell, not describe. We needed to help tell a story and make people want our product. He used several colorful examples such as the idea of a comb and that of a lipstick.

Today (that is Friday), was exhausting. Partly because I was presenting in Chinese (the horror!), but mostly because I fell like I learnt something through failing, through trying to do something instead of sitting in a classroom or a lecture theater listening about how to do design. They told us it will only get tougher and there will be more work. But many of us welcome the challenge. We really enjoy sketching and pitching our ideas, and the more we do it, we can only get better! Also, we were told that by the end of 2 months, we should each have about 500 sketches each. Looking forward to becoming quite the artist/sketcher by the end of ALP.

Hooray! It’s the weekend! And a couple of us are heading to Shanghai!!

Also, here is how we do laundry in a hotel room. (The washing machines are in ZJU, and it’s about a kilometer from our hotel)

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ALP – And so it begins

23 May

By Aaron Chong (Theme 9 – Plant Factory)

Monday, was well accepted by everyone. We were further briefed by our mentors on our various milestones in this project.

1) To design and build boxes meant for acquiring experimental data needed in the project, in teams of 4.

2) Plant the data and wait for it to grow.

3) Design an experience where users interact with the product which we will later design.

4) Split into mechanical, electrical, programming and designing groups for different aspects of the design.

5) Compile everything together to produce the final product.

We were told to practice our sketching and come up with the design of the boxes.


Sketch of our group’s design
(Our group consists of Avery, Weiyang, Chingyi and I)

Wednesday, after going through our designs with the mentors, each team was assigned two experiments to conduct, the variables include : growth space, nutrients, air circulation, water and soil quality. Due to the fact that different experiments might require different designs, we standardized most of the designs and made adjustments according to whichever experiment.

We started drawing the pieces out in Illustrator so it could be used to cut the wood. However, we met some supply difficulties over at the other campus therefore requiring someone to readjust the compiled Illustrator files. Thanks very much again WeiYang!


Shiyi teaching us how to use Illustrator.


10pm, compiling and standardizing our designs.


Weiyang, our tanker for the night.

Thursday, we went over to ZJU Yu Xuan Campus to have our boards cut. The cutter looks surprisingly similar to the laser cutter in SUTD without the safety panels and of course without the diode. The cutting of each board took roughly 50 minutes, meanwhile we followed Prof. Zheng Cheng around the offices where a large number of products designed by them and their students were on display. Among them were a couple of segways looking things, but too bad we had no access to their keys.

After the cutting was done, we had to try assembling them just to make sure the drawings were accurate and that there would be no error. After much sanding and whacking, the box came together quite nicely.


Our arrival at ZJU Yu Xuan Campus.


Prof. Zheng Cheng, mentor and the fab lab where the wood will be cut.


Huge wood cutter in action.


Sanding and assembling.


The first finished box!

After a few hours of hard work, we sat down with the mentors there and chatted. Upon finding a couple of guitars, Gomu and Kynaston serenaded us with their awesome guitar skills. Even our mentor joined in the fun! Plus, they had a table tennis table right outside, which we fooled around with too.


Having fun playing guitars with mentors.


And I quote Benny, “This is the sport to pick up chicks in China.”

At the end of the day, the boxes with additional designs was finished, leaving only 16 boxes left to be cut. Since they were all of the same design, the ZJU fab lab will help us cut it while we settle our other required components.

It has not even been a full week, however I feel that everyone is very much enthusiastic about our work and can’t wait for the next segment to start. We would be leaving for ChangXin on Tuesday for around 10 days. This would no doubt be an awesome experience + adventure for us all plant-factoriers. Let’s keep up the good work guys! Remember the mosquito repellent! haha