Date: 18 June 2019 – 14 August 2019 
Address: Pacific Activity Centre, Blk 454, Fajar Road Fajar Spring, Singapore 670454

Hours: 24 hrs

During one of my consultations when I was discussing on my residency plans with Nur, I was introduced to Participate in Design (P!D). P!D is a non-profit organisation that specialises in applying techniques of participatory design with the community. They are involved with many high-profile projects around Singapore. I was very keen to work with them as I feel that I would be able to learn more about participatory design and co-creation during my time with them. When I saw in their monthly newsletter that they were looking for a volunteer artist to design a feature wall at a senior activity centre, I jumped at the chance.

The Objective

P!D collaborated with National Council Social Service (NCSS) for the “Our Kitchen Programme”, where they co-designed the community kitchen with the members of the centre and the staff at Pacific Activity Centre, Fajar Springs. A feature chalkboard wall was constructed at the centre of the community kitchen. The objective of the project was to create an aesthetically-pleasing design that would help to liven up the space. Chalk was suggested to be used as the main medium.

The 1st Meeting

I met up with the centre staff to discuss on some of the ideas:

These were some of the pointers:

  1. The wall can be used as a board to display their menu (practical use instead of just aesthetic reasons)
  2. The staff are against using chalk as a medium for the wall (they tried writing their menu on the wall, but it is not feasible due to the uneven surface of the wall. The chalk writings are also difficult to clean. In addition, it also causes chalk residue to fall and dirty the floor.)

Suggestions we came up with during the meeting:

  1. Installing a whiteboard on the wall for the staff to write their menu (easy to write on and easy to clean)
  2. Using another medium for the wall, possibly acrylic, which does not smear and would be more durable as a permanent art display.

The Design Process

One of the challenges I faced was to transform the feature wall into something that is aesthetically pleasing and at the same time has practical use. Some initial ideas I had were doing a photo wall (for fostering a sense of belonging and community) and facilitating a co-creation workshop with the members and display their work on the wall. The photo wall idea did not go through as there was another part of the centre where they could display their photos. The co-creation of art idea had administrative issues so that didn’t go through as well. After a series of discussions and brainstorming, the final intention was to use the wall as a menu display. A mural of healthy food and positive messages was to be created – in hopes of livening up the space and advocating healthy eating. A pastel colour palette was chosen to imitate the look of a chalk drawing. The installation of the whiteboard and the mural took 3 days to be completed. I had 2 of my friends, Roop and Jovin, who came down to help me.

Final Outcome

I really enjoyed the interactions and conversations I had with the seniors and the staff at the centre. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. On one of the days, I was even invited to join their weekly communal potluck lunch gathering. As for the feature wall, I am happy with the final result of the artwork. Some of the seniors were telling me that they were feeling hungry just by looking at the wall. Some of them were also reading the messages on the wall aloud. Seeing the smiles and happy faces of the seniors when they were looking at the completed artwork was a heartwarming moment for me. As designers/artists, we should apply our skills to help our community and, in the long run, positively impact our society. I hope this permanent display will continue to inspire the people who visits the centre.

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