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Document of the workshop Lost & Found Organised at SP Design School Singapore Polytechnic From 20 June 2011 to 24 June 2011 Studio Masters Guido Ooms Karin van Lieshout Oooms Studio, The Netherlands Co-facilitators Iain Choi James Lee Venkatesh Rajamanickam Participants Clarice Chau Lin Yuan Lu YanJie Alvin Ng Sing Por Leung Jia Jun Lee Eng Hou Hillary Yap Ee Xuan Priscilla Tan Jia Jia Teo Ying Xuan Ang Sook Yen Jane Ang Jia Ying Samuel Woo Chun Kiat Michelle Tang Wanyun Melissa Misvendy Askara

Caroline Hia Pei Qi Trina Lim Shi Yuen Suah Wei Hong Mabel Low Lester Liao Weiren Nazirah Kau Hui Ling Eugene Yap Wen Jie Zhen Yili Bernard Neo Wei Bin Wong Chen Han Wei Tong Zhou Yang Yap Zhen Kang Ellvixson

Content Development, Editing & Design Venkatesh Rajamanickam Sketches James Lee

PREFACE THIS is a documentation of the workshop Lost & Found organised for the students of SP Design School, Singapore Polytechnic between 20 & 24 June 2011. It is part of the school’s ongoing effort to experiment with the practice of design and reflect upon the process in order to gain a deeper understanding of the design methods. The school organises about 4 to 5 such inter-disciplinary workshops/master classes/vertical studios in a year. For more information on how you can offer a workshop of this nature or participate in one, write to

Photographs Iain Choi Guido Ooms Cover Photograph Nazirah Kau Hui Ling Š Singapore Polytechnic. All rights reserved. 2011.



FOREWORD WE WERE invited to conduct a 5 day workshop at the Singapore Polytechnic. The title of the workshop was “Lost & Found”. Participants were required to work with discarded materials that have lost their original function and for which a new function have to be found. Also in a workshop of this nature, we expect the students to feel a bit lost during the design process but eventually end up finding the essence of what they want to communicate by their design. In that sense the title also signifies losing and finding oneself in the process of creation. The assignment for participants was first to work in groups to collect as much free materials as they can, without knowing what they will be used for. Next, with these materials they were asked to design and make 3 products -- a chair, an adjustable floor lamp and a coffee table. The 3 products have to be part of the same family by concept, material use or construction technique. This assignment demands real hands on approach, explore materials deeply and the ability to make quick decisions and to be creative with limited materials. The programme places an emphasis on practice-oriented, creative work, complemented by short presentations and discussions. We were looking for a new, fresh appearance in products, not scrapheap challenge designs. We are convinced that the limitations of a material are too often not caused by the material itself, but by the creativity (or lack of ) of the designer. We paid attention to concept, detail, construction techniques, ergonomics and presentation. During the workshop we noticed the students were definitely not afraid to work hard. Working in a group was not a problem either. We were surprised by the level of the concepts the groups were able to come up with in such a short time. One of the goals of the workshop was to make the students realize that the quality of a design can be improved greatly during the making of the prototype, if they keep an open mind and every now and then take a step back to analyse what they have made. We therefore encouraged the students often to ‘just do it’ and not try to finalise the design on paper without having worked enough with the materials. What we also noticed though is that their knowledge of tools in the wood & metal workshop is still limited. We think the awesome tools that the school has to offer can be exploited more by the students. Guido Ooms Karin van Lieshout



Alvin Ng Sing Por Diploma in Interior Design, Year 2

ONE OF the most valuable things that I have learnt from the workshop is to design, create from a different perspective: the material. As an interior design student, we never worked on a project putting the material prior to the concept. Instead, we just used the material on our concepts, limiting possibilities. After we formed into groups, each team was asked to look out for different materials. We gathered all sorts of things: wood from wine boxes, cloths, CD cases, badminton nets, window railings, wires and even leaves and twigs. Once we started exploring the materials we collected, I was so inspired by how well materials work together. Putting different materials together to form something entirely different and exploiting the different characteristics of each material, allows us to fully use them. After we combined the material and created many 3D sketches, we decided to use the material which was most interesting and with many possibilities -- CD cases. We arranged the CD cases in different manner; we also did silhouettes on the CD cases like putting UHU glue on it and creating patterns. We put things like wires, cloths and the most inspiring was the one with the twigs. We formed a dynamic structure using the CD cases and we broke the twigs and placed it in the structure. To our surprise it created a harmony so we decided to use the CD cases with other materials to show the material contrast. During the design process we discovered many things, like when we used coffee paper for the table, there was an aroma of coffee in the finished product. There were also compromises made within the group. There was a dilemma of whether or not to use the twigs in our lamp, and we ended up using another idea which was more suitable. Although we faced difficulties, it was overall an enriching and meaningful experience.


Clarice Chau Lin Yuan Diploma in Interior Design, Year 2

THROUGH THIS workshop, I have learnt things that were beyond what I could learn in a normal classroom. I have learnt new ways to explore different materials. We could burn it, melt it, break it, soak it and basically do anything with it to free the boundaries of our perceptions of the materials. Something that the Dutch designers mentioned will remain etched in my mind -- “It’s not what you can do with the material; but what you can do with the mind”. This was proven during the 5 day workshop. In our team, we soaked normal A4 paper in coffee. We did not know that the result of soaking coffee would be sticky and nor did we know the residue/coffee powder could create a nice marble-like texture. It was a pleasant surprise for us. The icing on the cake was it gave off a nice coffee aroma. Our coffee table is now not an ordinary coffee table, but a product in which the users can experience the sense of smell. We also learnt that we should always take a look back at our design, analyse it and decide on the next step. Sometimes, we are too engrossed in our work that we forget to look at it in different perspectives, so it is always good to stop, think and then continue.

I have also learnt that whatever concepts you have came up with in the beginning will keep changing and it is never stagnant. We started off with breaking the CDs, to create reflection. But this idea was never used. At the end of the day, the final product may be a far cry from what you started off and it might turn out even better. Hence, we should learn to embrace change so that we can improve.

Lu YanJie Diploma in Interior Design, Year 2

THE WORKSHOP was very enriching and I had fun making the products. The concept of our group’s furniture is the contrast of materials. Hence we used transparent CD cases as the main material to construct the furniture and then to bring out the concept of contrast of materials, we added other materials like “coffee paper”, grass, oat and wood. We created a basic unit using two CD cases and then we stacked 27 such units into a cube-like structure for the support of the table. The table top was then made with two layers of closed CD cases for stronger support. Many challenges and surprises occurred while we were constructing the furniture. The coffee table is a good example. At first we were worried that the CD cases will not be strong to be a coffee table as a single CD case is quite easy to break. However, after the coffee table was finished, we were actually surprised that it was strong and can hold many cups of coffee. The “coffee” paper was another surprise to us, as we did not know that coffee can actually create such interesting patterns and texture on just ordinary paper, and that it can have a coffee aroma. We created different kinds of “coffee” paper by sticking oats and small pieces of broken wood on the “coffee paper” for different furniture. In conclusion, I really like the furniture that we made. The challenges and surprises just made our design better. Hence in this workshop, I learnt that it is not scary to have challenges, we just have to face it and solve it, and it might just make the design even better.


EGG CRATES BEING ABLE to attend the workshop conducted by Guido Ooms and Karin van Lieshout was a good opportunity I did not want to miss. The lovely couple taught us lots of ways to work as a designer and they broadened my insights for ways to explore materials -- and that is, to just go crazy with it. They shared with us things they practice and what they like to stick to, examples K.I.S.S – “Keep It Simple Stupid” or the Nike slogan “Just Do It”.

Hillary Yap Ee Xuan Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

Simple phrases like these just open gateways to answers when in doubt. “Just do it, try it, make it” made me realise that real actions, not said but done, does wonders because you never know without trying. The outcome might not be the outcome you thought it would be because things just change along the way, no matter how fully you have planned in your head. “Don’t be afraid to kill your Darlings” is another phrase Karin said that made quite a deep impact on me. To think of an interesting and outstanding concept is brilliant. However when you throw in too many such concepts together at once, the whole project might just start to tangle. In order to keep things simple, no matter how outstanding an idea is, if it doesn’t suit, just remove it. To discard an idea is not a bad thing, at least now we have a new thing to take away from the experience. Furthermore throwing away an idea does not mean it can never be used again. It can be stored in our brain and when the time is right, we can always present it again.

Priscilla Tan Jia Jia Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

THROUGH this workshop, I have learnt that simple and basic materials around our everyday lives are actually much more useful than what we have come to expect. These materials seem fragile, cheap and weak, but through the experiments my group and I did, materials like the cardboard egg trays can create beautiful patterns and shapes that are attractive and are actually physically strong as well. Guido is right, we worry about things that may not exist and we think of problems that may not exist as well. Sometimes worrying too much may stop us from doing things that we may achieve. Also, by doing things that we like to do, not only will we get a good product in the end, but also a fun experience throughout. With fun, there would be lesser stress and hence we can work better! I learnt to appreciate mistakes, not to be afraid of them and that from mistakes we may achieve something good and beautiful. I learnt that people from different backgrounds may provide us with different perspectives and ideas and hence it was fun to work with people from interior design. They also gave me a whole new set of thinking. I have also picked up that things may look a little boring from its appearance but if we were to add some elements to it, like lights, it may give whole new dimension to it.


WIRE-FRAME Jane Ang Jia Ying Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 3

THE BEST take away from workshop is that the design process should be about not thinking too much but just doing it. In my education, such a process has not been used and this workshop taught me to do so. During introduction on the first day, the facilitators mentioned that they like walking in the woods, thus their wooden USB stick was born. I like the idea of using your hobby and applying it into a design project. Many a times especially in school projects, the destiny of the projects are set by the lecturers. Thus some of these projects may not define me as what I want to be as a designer. However in the near future, I would definitely use my hobby as an inspiration for my design. As this entire workshop is centred in material exploration, I learnt that there are two different ways to approach a material in product design. The first approach is to use materials in an obvious manner. When one sees the final product, one knows what material it is made of. The other is to dissect the properties of materials, finding the qualities and amplifying such qualities in products. There is no right or wrong approaches in design. However I feel that the approach of dissecting the properties of material will allow me to discover more. An example would be folding, cutting, heating, scratching plastic. After cutting a plastic bottle, I realised that small scraps of plastic looks like glass. Through

GOING through the workshop was definitely a great lesson learnt throughout the week. Beginning a project but having to refrain from thinking of the product was not an easy task. Every material test that we did, we kept linking it to the product which actually restricted us when we could have done more of different tests. Hence we could have pulled ourselves back, concentrating on the tests and even exaggerating some of their properties. Although the material that we chose had lot of good properties to make use of, and was already very beautiful in its original form, we still got a number of surprises while working on the tests. When these trays are empty, they appear fragile. However when they are stacked they provide very good support which actually surprised us. It was able to take a person’s weight.


While working on how to construct the products, we took up quite some time to make decisions and leaving too little time for construction. However, what I think we did better was to just continue with what we had and see what kind of product eventually popped out. This actually saved up quite an amount of time and we progressed. As we continued constructing the product, we discussed on the challenges and changes that we can make, decide on the final outcome and finally came out with the furniture and lamp.

Teo Ying Xuan Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

I ALWAYS like the idea of using scrap or leftover materials in design. During this workshop we were told to build three pieces of furniture, a lamp, a coffee table and a chair with the limited material that we found. I am glad this workshop taught me how to utilise the materials that can be found lying around urban landscapes. I learnt that it is important to understand the properties of material followed by synthesizing the materials to form bigger structures. For example, the metal clothes hanger. Instead of just using it as a piece of metal wire to tie objects together, it can also be used as foundation of a structure.

Ellvixson Yap Zhen Kang Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

Samuel Woo Chun Kiat Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

THE WORKSHOP titled Lost & Found was a refreshing way of interpreting design through the most basic of design elements: material. The workshop tasked attending students to create pieces of furniture with only discarded material, that which would sound impossible at first. However, after a more intimate experience with the raw material itself, one would realize that most of its supposed limitations lie in the designer himself. The workshop lasted a mere 5 days with only 3 of the days being set aside for us to create our furniture pieces. We learnt the importance of not over thinking about ideas and letting go of our inhibitions when it comes to design and simply let our bodies and the raw material translate themselves into something completely different than we had envisioned. Many design principles would cause one to scrutinize one single design idea from many perspectives; however in this workshop the most important aspect of design is simply to be spontaneous. Learning to let go thus becoming one of the most important lessons we were able to take home with us from the intensive 5-day workshop.


At first, the bending of wires, untangling and getting poked was extremely annoying, considering how we had not touched wires for so long. However, the more we bent, straightened or curved the wires to form our structure, the more exciting the design process got. We explored and came up with more structure and design variations. The coloured wires gave vibrancy to the furniture and the fishing line added a sense of dynamism to the collection. We strategized our craftsmanship by banking on our strengths. I worked on the adjustable floor lamp and had fun with the colours, the twisted structure and finding ways to make it stand firmly.

ATTENDING the workshop has opened me up to a different culture and a creative one at that. Although it only lasted for a week, I feel that I’ve gained much exposure in terms of ideas and approaches to design. We were encouraged to be different and that different is good. Also, we were asked to be more expressive with our questions and thoughts.

Michelle Tang Wanyun Diploma in Interior Design, Year 2

Many of us worked with materials that we may otherwise ignore like leaves, branches/twigs, newspaper and plastic bottles. My group worked a lot with fishing line, coloured wire hangers, hot glue and metal wires. It was the first time many of us tried the hot glue gun and we learnt how to be ‘free’ with it.


My group didn’t really express our ideas with each other as outwardly as the other groups did, however, we did many 3d mock ups/sketches and we realized that our train of thought was roughly the same, organically shaped furniture, mostly wire structure with fishing line and hot glue overlap.


NEWSPAPER THIS WORKSHOP taught us a lot about making use of the properties of materials. Before thinking of the design of the product, materials were first explored thoroughly in order to understand their properties. One of the tests that our group did was making newspaper balls by crushing newspaper and shaping it into a ball. We found out that combining a lot of the crushed paper together actually made for a good cushion. Another experiment of newspaper is to roll it. The newspaper is strong despite it being just thin papers but when a lot of these papers are rolled together, the roll has strength and is able to hold weight. So we decided to use newspaper as our core material. The newspaper balls are taped together to make the chair. However, we faced a challenge when the backing of the chair was not strong enough to be leaned on. We decided to make the chair in a different way by using a net and filling it up with the newspaper balls to create a bean bag. A different method is used to construct the table which is rolling of newspapers as to make the table strong and sturdy. Many rolls of newspapers were tied together to make the table. The rolling of newspaper is used for the stand of the floor lamp as well as it needs to be strong and stable to hold the light bulb and the cylindrical covering formed by a layer of newspaper and wire which encircles the light bulb. The final products depict the different properties of newspaper as our concept. The bean bag chair focuses on the softness of the crushed paper, and one can feel the surface of the crushed newspaper while sitting down comfortable on it. The coffee table shows how strong the newspaper is when being rolled together that it can be used as a table. The translucent property of the newspaper was exploited in the design of the lamp shade. The layer of newspaper helps to soften the light while the printed text created interesting shadows.


Melissa Misvendy Askara Diploma in Interior Design, Year 3

BOTTLES & PIPES I PARTICIPATED in this workshop in order to gain more exposure and insights into furniture design. We started off by not purchasing manufactured materials but by collecting materials wherever we can find before we know anything about what we're going to do with them. This is to ensure we start off our assignment with a need to think as innovative as possible to make use of the limited materials. Thus, we're able to explore deeper into the potential of different materials and expand our limited knowledge on the capabilities of materials. The workshop also introduced a new method of design - to design through making instead of to design through thinking. Majority of our designs for our assignments are based on process of research and critical thinking to address problems to the best of our knowledge. But through this new method of designing through making, we are able to bring our design to the next level as we found out more ways of using materials through continuous experimentation which we would not have been able to with our former habit. Some of the greatest challenge we faced, is getting used to switching off our brain and experimenting with materials to gain deeper insights on the capabilities of them before turning our brain back on again. But as we slowly got the hang of it, we were surprised by the results of playing with each material which opened up new possibilities to address our assignment requirement. Unfortunately majority of our materials were not suitable for construction, but with perseverance and innovation, we were able create functional products while bringing out the natural beauty of each materials. Last but not least, having to work with students from other design fields broadened our perspective towards design and usage of materials. Conflict of ideas also posed a big challenge. But through this workshop we have learnt to compromise and cooperate towards a common goal, and that it is possible to bring each new idea by anyone in the team to a greater height. Finally we learnt to refine our presentation skills on delivering our products and to sell the core concept behind our design at a professional level. With these valuable experiences we gained through a short period of a week, we have grown more confident about taking on new challenges in the future.


Lester Liao Weiren Diploma in Interior Design, Year 3

NATURE Wong Chen Han Diploma in Interior Design, Year 2

THROUGH this workshop I have learnt that the journey to becoming a designer is not an easy one. We have to learn skills that might seem unrelated to design, such as connecting wires and fixing a light bulb. We started by working with materials that we collected prior to the announcement of the design brief. Limited by the materials we collected, I began to think of ways to create our furniture. In relation to the theme of the workshop 'Lost & Found', I had an idea of collecting materials that are available in our environment. Thus we came up with the design of using grass, tree branches and string them together to build our furniture. In addition to designing the furniture, we looked to create an experience that other furniture would not be able to give. It was the idea of bringing outdoor indoors. As I experimented with different materials, I came to realise the different properties and the different ways we can use them. In conclusion, it was a very busy yet fulfilling week for me and I hope to attend more of these workshops in the future. Finally we learnt to refine our presentation skills on delivering our products and to sell the core concept behind our design at a professional level. With these valuable experiences we gained through a short period of a week, we have grown more confident about taking on new challenges in the future.

I FEEL that this workshop has really helped me understand more about how a designer works in a real company and how to approach design through material exploration in a project. We started out with looking for unwanted stuff. Then we started playing with them by breaking, cutting, gluing etc. We found out a lot through this material experimentation -- there were stuff like a simple water bottle looking nice even when cut into different parts. Construction challenges that we faced was with our chair made of water bottles -- we had a hard time holding them together and be able to withstand a person’s weight. With the help of Guido & Karin, and my group’s perseverance, we did it. Like what Guido & Karin said, from the Nike slogan, JUST DO IT, we manage to complete all our three furniture in a week. In the end our products might not appear to belong to a family but I felt that it does, as our concept of stacking connects them to a family. Perhaps due to the different materials used it doesn’t look like one.


When I look at our complete products, I felt our group’s effort in display there. We had fun during this workshop. At the end of the workshop, I do agree with K.I.S.S, keep it simple stupid principle. Why make something so complicated when it can be made simply yet beautifully. I am really glad I could be part of this workshop and look forward to the next workshop.

Nazirah Kau Hui Ling Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 3

Wei Tong Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

DURING the 5 day workshop, our group produced a set of furniture consisting of a chair, a table and a floor lamp as required by the brief. The concept behind our furniture was to use materials taken directly from the nature to create an outdoor experience within an indoor interior space. We went around and gathered branches, cut weeds, plucked leaves and picked stones within the school compound. As Singapore Polytechnic is a school and not a nature reserve, we had difficulties in gathering some of the materials we wanted due to the small diversity of flora and fauna. One of the challenges faced by us was on the limitations of materials available and also the quantity. On the other hand, it was also very time consuming for us when come to gathering the materials. As we are not equipped with the proper tools, it was really inefficient and it took us around 2 afternoons just to cut the weeds used to build the chair. In the end we decided to use branches and twigs to construct the table and floor lamp, while weeds to build the chair. As for the chair, the weeds were tied together in bundles by strings and individual bundles were later on connected by strings to form one single piece. For the table and chair, only strings were used to connect and joining the joints. I though it may not work out at first, however it was a nice surprise as the strings were strong and the furniture was sturdy in the end. It was fun working with materials gathered by ourselves. The set of furniture turned out to be satisfying. However we all think that improvements could be done if we have more time.


FOR THE WORKSHOP our group worked on the idea of using natural materials to make our furniture. I thought that it was a very interesting material to work with. Natural materials all come in organic forms and thus they do not have a fixed shape. Therefore, while working with these kinds of materials our group needed to be very creative in making use of the properties of the materials to make the product. This in a way made the furniture making process both challenging and fun.

Zhou Yang Diploma in Experience and Product Design, Year 2

However, gathering the natural materials was one of the toughest parts of our making process. Especially for the chair which was made entirely of weeds, we had to go to the hill behind the InnoVillage to cut them. It was really though work as we needed a lot of weeds to form the chair. It took us about two days to finish collecting enough weeds to make the chair. Though it was hard work, our group really enjoyed the process of cutting the weeds. It was a great hands-on experience as we would not have had this kind of chance anywhere else. Overall, I think that through this workshop I learnt more about the different kinds of materials in the market. I believed it is something that is very crucial for designers. Designers need to know about the different kinds of materials in order to work with them to create magic. Thus, I believe this workshop was an eye-opener for me and I was glad that I got this opportunity to work with designers from overseas.


Lost& Found, Oooms Workshop with Singapore Polytechnic  
Lost& Found, Oooms Workshop with Singapore Polytechnic  

THIS is a documentation of the workshop Lost & Found organised for the students of SP Design School, Singapore Polytechnic between 20 & 24 J...