I remember

Being told to bring 5 different color choices, whether it was colors that i loved, or colors that i really hated.

Applying my favorite colours as nail polish swatches because I realised that my favorite colors are in the forms of nail varnish. I mentioned about how I gravitate more towards the muted pastel colors because it somewhat makes me more calm.

I Remember deciding what I actually felt about the color red and green. Not sure if i’m too much of a fan of red, as I can see myself wearing green, rather than red. Fun fact, I used to really like the color green, for no particular reason at all.

Destination Culture

For a considerably small country, Singapore boasts quite a good collection of iconic buildings designed by several starchitects. One example would be the Marina Bay Sands, Casino and Hotel.

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image source: http://www.cppwind.com/

This building is one of architect Moshe Safdie’s best projects. It’s a tri-tower building that is connected along with roof with a sky park and infinity pool. According to Safdie, “There’s no city if all we build is towers. We have to find a way to deploy towers in a way that creates public place, public realm,” he said. This building became the talk of the town when it was in construction, and when it was opened to the public, tourists would fly into Singapore, wanting to visit “the building that looks like it has a boat on top”. Of course, the fact that Singapore spent quite a large sum of money to build this up, they had to make sure that it would rake in as much revenue as possible from the tourist industry. This building is not only a hotel, but it is also a casino. Contrasting to the other skyscrapers we have in Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands is all about portraying the high class, elegant vibe. If you take a walk in the building, the shops are all high end brands, and possibly only the wealthy could afford. Everything in there, including the food court, is priced a couple of notches higher than what you can get outside. Even though it’s a privatised space, they’ve tried to make it as much of a public space as possible, but at a price. Visitors don’t have the privilege to use the infinity pools as they are only available to hotel guests, but are allowed to go up to the sky park, 57 stories above ground, at a price of SGD$23 ( £10.50 ) per entry.

Before the Marina Bay Sands building was built, the “most iconic” building we had was probably the “Esplanade by the Bay”. It was designed to resemble a lantern/spiky dome. It was a place that hosted shows, musicals and all things theatre.

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Definitely the highest profile building in Singapore at the moment, MBS has transformed the skyline of Singapore. It now hosts most of the star studded events, and when government figures visit Singapore, MBS is the place to visit and stay. However, there is a downside behind this glassy faceted building. Where it sits used to be an empty public space where people would walk by and sit by the bay. It is now a place where the wealthy and upper class go to.

As a goal to attract tourists and increase consumerism in this small country, Singapore is constantly upgrading the redefining the architectures all around. Which brings about the next point from the seminar; Museumization. To match up with the MBS, the Art Science Museum was built. Of course, it’s not only just a museum where works and exhibits are showcased. It’s designed to combine spectacle with consumption.

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Strategically placed, the Art Science museum has an entrance and an exit at two points. Visitors can enter the museum via the Bay front, or they could enter/exit via MBS. Either way, they’ve made sure that visitors are enticed to spend by having rows of gift shops, aesthetically designed cafes, ensuring that when you walk through the museum, chances of you spending money would be increased.

With reference to the example of the Guggenheim Museum, where it’s supposed to be visited for the contents it hosts, visitors go there to see the museum once, only for it’s architecture, and that’s it. I feel that in Singapore’s case, the entire area where the MBS and Art science museum sits, is essentially the “Disneyland” for grown ups. Even if visitors go there to look at the architecture, Singapore has made sure that we leave the place spending at least on something. Tourists are constantly surrounded by things that promotes consumption, which in my point is a successful project by the government with the aim of expanding Singapore’s tourism and promoting Singapore as a hub for tourism.

Non place – Singapore

We talked about non places in class, and according to Marc Auge, a non place could also be considered as “something which enhances our awareness of the anonymity of modern cities, the cycle of consumption, and the fact that compared to everything else we are very small.” and “If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place.”

In Singapore, majority of the residents live in housing blocks, and i would describe the void decks of these housing blocks as a non-place. It belongs to the whole block, but belongs to no one. Everyday, tons of people walk through the void decks, and at that moment, everyone’s deemed the same. We’re no different. We also have a lot of food courts in Singapore. A place where there are a variety of food choices, and people go to for their meals, there’s no sense of identity there. We walk in, we place our orders and we sit down to consume our food.

Skyscrapers are basically everywhere. In relation to what we talked about in class, about the privatization of public spaces, I feel that with the skyscrapers coming up, taking over what used to be public land, it brings about this sense of disconnectivity. It’s as though each individual building is a world of its own, and even though there are many skyscrapers around, there is no cohesiveness.

We talked about gentrification and I thought about Chinatown in Singapore. As Singapore continues to prosper, the cityscapes are changing as developments are being made, superseding the old. It used to be a place where all the old residents live, it was a place with loads of heritage. During the day, it would be a market, bustling with the commotion of residents, tourists and the stall vendors. And due to the close proximity of the streets, it encourages the communities to visit the area very regularly. Due to modernization, many residents got relocated, and small family business had no choice but to move due to the surge in rent. From the government point of view, change needs to happen to increase consumerism. Right now, it’s been transformed to a place where it attracts a lot of tourists all year round. Chinatown now can only be represented with some of the preserved architecture. The original identity and communities are now lost through time and urban changes.

 

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Recap + Utopia of Consumption

In the beginning of the lesson, we looked at the way Westfield was being built and the possible ideas and reasons behind it. Westfield White City has two obvious segregated parts in the mall. On one side, it’s the section that reflects more of a high street vibe, but the other side reflects a higher end, more sophisticate vibe. While both sections are in the same mall, they both boost different kinds of lighting, as though to distinctly differentiate the ambience and quality of their stores. 

Utopia of Consumption

The way a shopping center is being designed and structured is strategic in a way where it influences your expenditure by increasing your desire your things based on your personal identity, blurring the lines between your needs and wants. Sometimes, we enter a shopping mall with a specific item in mind to purchase, thinking that once we’ve bought the item, we’ll leave. However, the layout of shopping centers stimulate the consumer’s emotions by getting them to walk past several shops, calling out their desire to spend on these commodities that they don’t need. We walk into a shopping mall with the aim to get, let’s say a sweater, then we enter the shop and realise that the pair of sneakers displayed on the mannequin might be something we want, but don’t exactly need. So through this, the consumers that is supposed to feel satisfied after getting the sweater, is now unsatisfied because of the desire of getting the pair of sneakers. “Identity is momentarily stabilized even while the image of a future identity begins to take shape, but the endless variation of objects means that satisfaction always remains out of reach” (Crawford). While consumers shop to be satisfied, they also end up feeling unsatisfied eventually with the variation of products being presented to them. 

Mcdonalization / Disneyization / Westfield

Today we learnt more about the term Mcdonaldization and Disneyisation.We also discussed about about Disneyization which had really interesting pointers. The assignment we had was to visit Westfield Shopping Center and think about how it’s Mcdonaldized.

Basically, there are 4 key dimensions to the McDonalds Model.

  1. Efficiency
    McDonalds has a very basic system of getting customers to order the food and to collect it. Customers walk into Mcdonalds and automatically look up for the large menu display, queue up then make the order, then move to the right and wait for the order to be brought up to the counter. What i’ve realised about McDonalds is that the food don’t usually take longer than 10 minutes to reach us, which makes it very efficient for people who are in a rush but would still like to have a meal. Also, by providing a drive through, they give people that are on the go an option to buy their meal.Westfield: Many people visit Westfield to get their shopping done, and during the weekends it can get pretty crowded. The least that people want to be doing is to be queuing up waiting for a space in the carpark. Valet services are being provided to consumers who don’t want to be waiting, allowing them to start shopping the moment they reach the mall. It’s also efficient in a way where there are ATMs situated around the mall and in lift lobbies, consumers need not specifically look for one when they need cash. Westfield also proved a service where they could “look after” your shopping for you while you carry on your day at the mall so that the big bags would not get in your way.
  2. Quantified and Calculated Service
    What McDonalds have in their menu is the value meals where every burger or main item comes with a choice of fries and a drink. It’s usually sold as a bundle with an attractive price, making consumers think that they are paying less for more food.Westfield: If you notice the way they situate the escalators in the mall, they are pretty far apart from each other. The way access is given to the consumers is being calculated. By doing so, consumers would have to walk past several shops before getting to the escalator. Over time, this increases the sales and the amount of time consumers spend in the mall. There are many anchor stores in Westfield like Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, John Lewis. However if you think about it, these anchor stores are placed strategically at the back of mall and not by the front entrance. This is done so that for consumers who specifically want to drop by M&S maybe to just grab household items, they would have to walk through the mall, passing by more shops on the way, “enticing” them to shop before reaching their intended destination.

     

  3. Predictability
    Consumers visit McDonalds knowing in mind what to expect already. They wouldn’t be caught in a situation where they’re not sure of what to do. No frills.Westfield: We all go into a mall and automatically know what to expect. There’s no surprises. Consumers know automatically what to expect. Shopping malls have pretty much the same layout and same stores. Sitemaps and directories are placed around for consumer references and also, with predictability, consumers know that they need not worry about the sudden change in weather as being in the shopping mall would keep them protected and sheltered.

     

  4. Control
    The way the food’s prepared and served is controlled well by the company to ensure that every serving is equal, this maintains the company’s profits and makes sure that no food would be under or over served. When everything’s being served and done in a systematic order, it brings about a higher turnover rate and increased profit margin. As technology advances, we find that we are less in control as the computer takes over most of the “thinking” and “doing”. And as things become more automated, humans are being replaced with machines.

We talked about these 3 ideas from the term Disneyization.

  1. Theming
    Where separate elements combined into one cohesive image presents an integrated space. Using Disneyland as an example, other than the rides that have been designed with the disney theme in mind, the entire park is like a facade on it’s own. The “Main Street” where visitors walk through as they enter the park has been thoughtfully designed for it to look like a city on it’s own. Storefronts and shops have be carefully designed to match up with the rides and the idea of disneyland being a magical place.Westfield: The mall has very large displays with glass finishes to give the mall a higher class feel. It sets off a different vibe as compared to shopping along oxford circus even though the shops are pretty much the same. This gives consumers the feeling that they are shopping in style. 

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    According to Adamson, who’s a craft theorist and historian, he mentions that it’s challenging for the mall designer to make the shops look desirable to customers. However, the ways that could be worked around it in order to prolong the customer’s stay in the mall which increases the amount of money spent is to have no clocks, no windows, plenty of daylight. This is similar to the designing strategy of a casino. Casinos have no clocks and windows, as a result, visitors lose the sense of time while playing, resulting in them spending more money at the casino.
     

  2. Hybrid Consumption
    What makes Disneyland a successful place is that it’s not only a place with theme parks, but it’s combined with other services, increasing the forms of consumption by the visitors. Other than the rides, Disneyland gives visitors the option of shopping, eating and staying. This creates a longer list of reasons for them to stay on the site, and longer hours spent at Disneyland brings about more expenditure.Westfield: When you enter Westfield, you’ll be greeted with 2 rows of shops holding expensive brands. The area of Westfield is called the Village and it’s designed slightly different from the other side of the mall. This side of the malls boosts a higher, upper class finish with nicer lighting. Within the area, there’s a mini bar area of shoppers to sit and chill. Other than shopping, Westfield has services like a children’s area for parents to put their kids if they want a piece of mind while shopping, they also have a cinema and beauty parlours. This way, the mall is suited for anyone.

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  3. Merchandising
    Disneyland sells their own merchandise at almost every corner of the park. There’s no way to avoid it. The stores sell specific merchandises after you’ve exited the ride, enticing you the buy a souvenir to remember the ride you just took.

Branded Spaces – Entry 01

So we’re back from the summer holiday! And this is my first entry for my CTS topic : Branded Spaces. I thought that the five experience design principles were quite interesting to begin with. With reference to what Pine and Gilmore has written on the experience economy, business must orchestrate events that are memorable to the consumers, and this memory itself, becomes the experience.

The first experience design principle is “Theme the experience”. I think what would make good examples are places like disneyland, TGIFriday and the given example by them, The Rainforest Cafe. Generally, i think theme parks are all themed experience. The main aim is to get consumers to be attracted and drawn to things that have been made attractive and memorable, and is likely to have an impression on them. For example, in Disneyland, even the cafes and restaurants are themed sell food and snacks designed based on Disney characters. The staffs and ride operators wear outfits or headgears that goes along with the disney theme.

Next on the list is “Harmonizing the theme with positive cues”. This allows the consumers to live the experience to the fullest. For example, the staff in Disneyland welcomes the visitors with “enjoy your magical adventure”, instead of “have fun”. This evokes a more emotional factor and makes the consumers feel “this is so magical! i’m so excited!”. Harmonizing the theme also ensures consistency throughout.

Of course, because positive cues is very important, it brings us to the next point which is “Eliminate the negative cues”. By doing so, it makes the environment more friendly, giving the consumers a better impression. It could be just using the right words and appropriate facial expressions. Back the example of Disneyland, the ride operators and park staff all work with emotional labour and are made to smile and act all excited and happy just to be able to let the visitors think that “hey, disneyland’s really the happiest place on earth”.

No touristy area is complete without memorabilia. Every touristy place you can think of definitely has their own souvenirs for visitors to remember them by. For instance, i think that Disneyland’s make a very smart move where almost at every corner, they have pushcarts that sells Disney character headgears, be it the Mickey hat or the Minnie Ears. People purchase them for the very sole purpose of remembering the event, and have absolutely no use for it once they leave the park. At every corner where the visitors walk, they are unknowingly being enticed into buying one. According to Business Insider UK(2015), “Over 84 million Mickey Mouse ears have been sold since Disneyland opened, making the ears the most popular Disneyland souvenir of all time.”

Lastly, what makes an experience good in a place is making consumers use their 5 senses. This gets the consumers to engage in the experience by heightening their senses. The more senses are being engaged in an experience, the more memorable it would be. One example i could think of referring to disneyland is the smell of churros and popcorn in the park. So walking around the theme park not only gives the consumers a visual experience with all the nicely designed rides, consumers would constantly get a whiff of churros or popcorn from a nearby pushcart, attracting them to stop and buy some before carrying on.