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The Golden Phoenix Wok: A Visual Survey of the Evocative Essence of Chinese Restaurant Signage Designs in Southeast Asian Chinatowns.

This paper is under review for the Eleventh International Conference on Design Principles & Practices at the Institute Without Boundaries at George Brown College, Toronto, Canada from March 2-4, 2017.

Based on a research conducted in 2015 which analyzed how design elements found in San Francisco's Chinatown restaurant signage contributed to their gastronomic identities, this visual research of outdoor signage is a continuation on five Southeast Asia Chinatowns: Singapore (Singapore), Manila (Philippines), Vientiane (Laos), Penang (Malaysia), and Bangkok (Thailand). A total of 86 restaurants are analyzed where three sets of framework: i) interactions between elements on the signage; ii) characteristics of elements on the signage; and iii) interactions of elements and their characteristics on the signage are triangulated to answer the research question, "What are the evocative essences of design elements in a Chinatown restaurant signage could contribute to its impressions?" The signage surveyed suggest four major essences that evoke uniquely Chinese elements: i) persistent and overwhelming applications of Chinese characters and other supportive foreign languages; ii) cultural significance and universal application of red color; and iii) graphical elements with cultural representations that are attributive to Chinese pattern designs, calligraphic characters, and architectural elements.

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The Golden Dragon Wok: A Visual Survey of the Evocative Essence of Chinese Restaurant Signage Designs in an American Chinatown.

This paper has been submitted and accepted at the Tenth International Conference on Design Principles & Practices from 25-27 February 2016 at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ethnic entrepreneurs in America often carve out an economic niche in the food and beverage industry, showcasing restaurants as an authentic experience especially in American Chinatowns. The main goal of this research is to offer a visual analysis in explaining how design elements found in San Francisco's Chinatown restaurant signages contribute to their impressions as a marker of gastronomic identity. A total of 63 restaurants were analyzed via a framework based on the choices of languages as well as other design components represented on their signages. 90% of the eateries positioned Chinese characters above and before English alphabets on their main signboards, fostering a visual significance in contributing to the gastronomic identity of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, California. Considering the enormous linguistic and stylistic differences, a mish-mashed miscegenation of signages from these eateries has also added a unique flavor to Chinatown, much like the different types of food they offer.

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To learn is to experience: How our daily interactions with objects, events, the environment and people can be a classroom.

This paper was submitted and accepted at the Design & Emotion Society conference from October 6 to 10, 2014 at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia.

Testing a premise put forth by Nathan Shedroff (2001) that there is always an experience created by an object, an event, the environment and people, this paper is a report for an experimental course at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. Using experience as a form of pedagogical technique in bridging our experience to what could be learned and shared, 144 students are presented with five predetermined categories to choose from, followed by an individual assignment derived from their interpretations of Shedroff's six dimensions of experience. The course is an attempt to add newness to problem-based learning which engages students in contextualized and authentic problems with realistic real-world expectations. By adding our common sensorial and cognitive experiences that we come across everyday as a catalyst for learning and discoveries, the students are also exposed to other learning outcomes--creativity, collaboration, team spirit, artistic appreciation, photography and crafting.

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Hawking Gawking in Singapore: The polylingualism of visual grammar in hawker center signage

This paper was presented at the Typography Day 2014 conference, from Feb 28 - March 3, 2014 at the Symbiosis Institute of Design in Pune, India.

This paper is a comparative typographic and pictographic analysis to identify the underlying layout and design structures of culinary signage at hawker centers in Singapore. A hawker center is a collection of stalls selling different types of affordable foods, housed in a covered but open complex, with a common seating area. Five hawker centers managed by the National Environment Agency of Singapore, particularly those that offer popular traditional dishes are identified. Compositional elements and principles of organizations which are used as a supportive/graphical form with the purpose to inform and persuade are also discussed to understanding how hawker center signage is designed for a multilingual environment. There are cases of typographical errors, mismatched fonts, unexpected approaches as opposed to rarely radical, but safe, tidy, and usually bland designs, which seems to be the norm.

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Work-life harmony for creative minds in the advertising industry

This paper was a result from the Final Year Project between Dr Suwichit Chaidaroon and I and the paper was accepted and presented by final year students Cheryl Chan, Celine Tham, Tsang Wing Han at the 2011 Asia-Pacific Conference in cooperation with the Queensland University of Technology and the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Advertising, Brisbane, Australia from June 8 -10, 2011.

The past decade has seen a proliferation of research studies on work and life interfaces. However, research in this area so far has often focused on the "balance" or the "conflict" between the two preeminent domains in the lives of individuals. Friedman, Christensen and DeGroot (1998) highlighted that most companies view work and personal life as competing priorities in a zero sum game, in which a gain in one area means a loss in the other. However, they believed that rather than being competing priorities, work and personal life are actually complementary. Supporting this view, Hill (2007) proposes that "harmony" rather than "balance" be used when talking about the work-life issue. He defines work-life harmony as the ability to effectively integrate work responsibilities and family or personal aspirations. Therefore, rather than limiting questions about work-life to how time in one domain can be reduced to make more time for the other, more helpful questions would be about how both domains can complement each other.

This study builds on Hill's definition of work-life harmony in the context of creative individuals, namely copywriters and art directors, in the advertising industry. For the purposes of this study, a creative individual is defined as someone who manages the process and outcome of a creative solution. The preponderance of research on work-life balance in the advertising industry has mainly focused on countries in the West, centering on the reasons behind the male dominance in the industry (Mallia, 2009; Broyles & Grow, 2008; Kazenoff & Vagnoni, 1997). While the issue of work-life balance in the Singapore context has received considerable academic attention, there is a dearth of research in this area for creative individuals in Singapore. Given that creative individuals are typically known to be subjected to the "punishing hours" of the advertising industry (Mallia, 2009, p. 5), the potentially complementary nature of work and personal life would have important implications.

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Storytelling through Expressive Typography: How famous people inspire us through words as reflected by graphic communication students.

Presented at the Typography Day 2011, from March 3 - 5, 2011 at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India.

Through a typographic project, 13 undergraduate communication studies students at a major university in Singapore explore hand-crafted letters through various ornamental, exploratory as well as digital letters to bring out the "rawness" of meaning in selected quotes of their choice by a famous person, living, dead or fictitious. Underlying the interpretive and illustrative natures of the project lays the fundamental elements of storytelling such as setting, character identification, plot, mood, and movement. In short, by selecting a setting, the audience is provided a sense of time and place. Working with quotes which essentially are typographic in nature, the students are confronted with the task to identify a character in the quote which makes their composition relevant in order to create an emotional tone for their expressive letterings, identified as mood within a plot which ties the sequential events together.

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Opposites don't attract: The tug-of-war between sans and sans serif fonts in print advertising

Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication at University of Nicosia, Cyprus, June 14 - 20, 2010.

In the past, typography was not seen as an element of design as writers were less conscious of the ability of typeface to give meaning. Today, many different typefaces are available and more are being propagated on the web. Typography is crucial in emoting feelings as research has shown that consumers go beyond what is being implied from the message when reading a product label. According to Jass & Childers (2002), an advertising message comprises of three important components, a visual image, a verbal message and a voice used to convey the intended communication. From verbal to visual experiences, typography has enhanced the meaning of text it represents. Typefaces are used as the voice to "speak" to consumers on many occasions. Typefaces should be viewed as more than a design as they are a major tool when used in communicating at all levels, from advertising, reports, business writing and legal writing or magazines. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how typography has impacted visual communication especially in the area of print advertising. We found that through the principle of consistency (Lidwell, et al., 2003) in font usage, brands capitalize on typography in communicating their messages which further emphasizes the importance of the appearance of verbal messages through typography.

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Food Defines Us: A Visual Discovery of Singapore's Gastronomical Culture.

Paper presented at the Computer Graphics and Visualization and Image Processing 2009 Conference in Algarve, Portugal from June 20 -22, 2009.

This paper was published in the IADIS International Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems proceedings edited by Yingcai Xiao, Tomaz Amon and Piet Kommers.

Singapore is a city of many names, one of which is "food paradise." Yet, there is a lack of research in the field of gastronomy in Singapore. This project seeks to explore the social and cultural implications of food, and investigate the correlation between food and identity in multiracial Singapore. Captured through the lens of a digital SLR, this research is a visual narrative that makes use of visual semiotics to analyze the implicit and explicit meanings of food in photographs. By explicitly documenting activities related to gastronomical events, we hope to deconstruct and contest the realities of signs embedded within. The photos are organized into three broad categories: i) food forms a central tenet of our identity which connects us to our past, present and future. In other words, we use food as a medium to reach out to our ancestors and loved ones as well as the spiritual entities beyond us; ii) food defines the way we live, work and play. As such, food becomes a telling factor in explaining who we are and our place in the world by investigating the setting in which we consume food. Finally, iii) food gives us energy, order and life as such that the realizations of our material environment are governed by how things are designed, manufactured, distributed and used.

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Opposites attract: Juxtaposing extreme of symmetry and asymmetry to generate visual ideas

Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on the Arts in Society in Birmingham, United Kingdom from July 28 - 31, 2008.

This paper was published in the International Journal of the Arts in Society.

Visual communication, in the context of a marketplace at large, has little meaning or value except in relation to a client. Nonetheless, the two components, "visual" and "communication" denote that it is more than a business exercise. Primarily associated with two-dimensional images, the interdisciplinary field of visual communication engages different subject areas which converge to create communicational objects. For visual communicators, part of the challenge in a creative process has to do with working through the restrictions geared towards the reality of a marketplace. The designer creates a message or a solution for the client, who in turn, intends it for a specific audience. Critical to communicating is the need to make sense in a marketplace context. If the solution is predicated on satisfying a set of objectives, then the act of designing also implies some amount of control in creating aesthetical solutions.

Working within these constraints is a struggle in and of itself. In addition, expectations for a creative and aesthetically pleasing design solution must be met. Compromises are sometimes necessary. The result often fails to satisfy all stakeholders because it is chained to communicative interests, whether they function within economic, political, propagandist, or selfless agendas. Negotiating the various influences involved in the design process can be daunting for an untrained designer. Therefore, there is a need to develop an objective framework that captures both business and creative interests, which in turn, will help students of design. The extreme opposite model developed in this paper acts as a framework for students to perceptively generate visual ideas.

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Deciphering creativity: A potential transformation in art and design classrooms in Singapore.

Paper presented at the One Voice International Conference & Forum for Educators, San Francisco, California, USA from July 5 - 9, 2008.

From an artistic phenomenon to humanistic ideology holding that creativity is a fundamental human attribute (Rogers, 1961), to creativity as a teachable skill (Runco, 1993), to creative personalities (Amabile, 1983; Craft, 2001; Cropley, 1992; Dellas & Gaier, 1970; Sternberg & Lubart, 1995), creativity is arguably a fluid concept that has manifested itself in a variety of ways. By casting creativity as a catalyst to communicate ideas for an intended message, the author wishes to demystify the concept of creativity into a catalyst for purposive communications. Critical to the communication process are considerations for the content of the message, recipients of the message, execution and delivery formats, and the context in which it serves: economic, political, cultural, environmental, and societal realms. Without considering them, there is no defined focus to effectively deliver the message. Whether creativity is a personal attribute, cognitive skill, motivational environment or social factors, the paper serves as a traversing.

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Do computers undermine the creative process?

Paper submitted for the Design Thinking and Innovation: Towards a Global/Asian perspective, Temasek Design School, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore from March 29-31, 2006 conference.

The utilization of technology in pedagogy has many facets of inherent benefits as well as challenges. While teachers are caught in the conundrum of teaching a generation of technologically savvy students, they must also allow them the opportunities to explore their own strengths and weaknesses with a piece of so called anti-creativity equipment. To the students, computer technology is where automation, accuracy, expediency, presentation, execution and implementation are made possible. This paper is about understanding the many aspects of the design process and tools used to formulate some recommendations for educators and students who use computer technology.

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Recommendations for Design Educators and Students Who Embrace Computer Technology.

This paper was published in the International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.127-140 (2006).

In view of what the strengths and limitations of computers in education are, it is interesting to note that the utilization of technology in pedagogy has many facets of inherent benefits as well as challenges. While teachers are caught in the conundrum of teaching a generation of technologically savvy students, they must also allow them the opportunities to explore their own strengths and weaknesses with a piece of so called anti-creativity equipment. To the students, computer technology is regarded as an extension of their central nervous systems and limbs whereby automation, accuracy, expediency, presentation, execution and implementation are made possible. In this paper, I intend to explore the influences of computer technology in design education as influenced by market-driven frameworks, followed by my recommendations for design educators and students

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The Influences of Computer on Idea Formation in Design
Paperback measuring 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches with 260 pages in English published by VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K. on July 18, 2008.
ISBN-10: 3836453037
ISBN-13: 978-3836453035

To purchase online click here.or search under the title of under author's name "Kok Cheow Yeoh"



My visual interest involves the integration of social message in the form of activism with themes within humanistic, social, religious, commercial, educational, and spiritual contexts to facilitate social tolerance and communal understanding.

Areas of academic interests:
- Visual Communication
- Brand consulting
- Development of visual identity systems
- Environmental graphics (Signage)
- Publication design
- Package design
- Advertising & promotional campaigns
- Experience design

Projects supervised:
- Visual Communication-related campaigns
- Advertising and Promotional campaigns
- Hybrid projects (Combination)
- Qualitative research projects

  © Kok Cheow Yeoh. All rights reserved.