Design

Getting Lit in the 80s

Although my mother was never a hoarder, she did collect items that had sentimental value. Growing up, the cabinets in my house were peppered with old sport trophies and handmade mother’s day gifts. Unique amongst the antique trinkets and memorabilia of her youth, was her collection of old matchboxes. These originated from the height of the disco craze in the ‘80s and early 90s, when matchboxes were not only useful to keep around, but also served as miniature advertisements for the clubs. For my mother, these became keepsakes and a capsule of memories to remember. Every time she went to a new disco club, she would make it a point to collect their matchboxes.

While spring-cleaning late last year, we stumbled upon her matchbox collection, slightly discoloured and dusty. In an effort to find out more about life in Singapore during her youth, I convinced my mother against throwing them out, and encouraged her to share the stories behind these tiny boxes. With them came a glimpse into Singapore’s past, and a snapshot of memories that seemed almost a lifetime ago.

Although this is just a small fraction of my mom’s collection, I would like to share 3 of the most interesting matchboxes amongst her treasures.

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1. Zouk

Zouk is definitely a familiar name for many Singaporeans but I’m sure many of us are not aware that it opened in 1991 and is Singapore’s oldest club. My mom speaks fondly of their ‘Thank God it’s Wed” event that has since evolved into the popular Mambo Jambo.

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2. Fire

According to my mom, Fire used to be the hottest and biggest disco in Singapore in the early 90s. It would be tough to find a 90s party goer that did not recognise the name of this three-floor disco burning in the heart of Orchard Plaza.


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3. Atlantis

An underwater-themed disco off Grange Road, Atlantis was one of Singapore’s first themed disco. It’s elaborate interior was the brainchild of a Disneyland designer that helped materialise the vision of the club’s owner.  However, despite its extraordinary interior, the club was forced to close its doors when the recession of 1985 rolled around.

Have you been to any of these clubs?

Postcards from Finland I - Watch this space

Last year, Heist lead design researcher Naima won a scholarship to do her Masters at the EIT Digital Academy in Finland. Immersing herself in this new culture, Naima been writing a series of posts about her life in Finland, from education to depressing winters. We’ll be sharing her experiences over the next few weeks. Here is Part I of Postcards from Finland.

Hello from snowy Helsinki

Hello from snowy Helsinki

I had high expectations when I chose Finland for my Master’s Degree - it has one of the world’s best education systems and it’s free! In fact, for Finns, it’s actually paid! Finns receive 500 Euros/month for studying. The experience here so far hasn’t disappointed me.

The education system in Finland aims to produce creative problem solvers. Assignments - mainly group assignments - leaves room for freedom so students can decide for themselves how to get to complete their task, how much work to put in, and what exactly they should deliver. Students make their own judgment calls with rational thinking and their decision-making skills. Courses are multidisciplinary and professors request students from the Engineering, Design and Business courses to form as diverse teams as possible.

Exams are very rare. Finnish education keeps students curious, active and with just enough free time to not forget the world of opportunities outside school. Most students get subject-related part-time or even full-time jobs, and student-organized events such as Slush - the world’s leading start-up event - and Junction - Europe’s biggest hackathon - are thriving. Specific student accelerator programs encourage and support students to launch their own start-ups.

Oh, and hierarchies are super flat. Professors are always addressed directly by their first name and students are encouraged to discuss and even question the professors' statements. And isn’t that what studying at university should be about - questioning the status quo, exploring oneself and breaking new ground?

Flat Hierarchies:    A much shared meme in Finland, and a true story. The man sitting on the stairs in the second row is the current Finnish president Sauli Niinistö

Flat Hierarchies: A much shared meme in Finland, and a true story. The man sitting on the stairs in the second row is the current Finnish president Sauli Niinistö

Finland is a country of trust, honesty, and directness. Bicycles do not really need to be locked. I have friend who wanted to get rid of his old bike and left it unlocked at the metro station - yet it was still there 6 months later! Another friend lost his phone on the way home, and once he noticed it, he remotely launched a message with his address on the phone. The finders returned the phone within 10 minutes. And there are several similar stories - it’s not just a single act of kindness or luck.

Conversations here also tend to be very direct, which may come as a culture shock to some. Small talk is considered a waste of time and people are encouraged to just go straight to the point. Getting listeners to read between the lines may also not work. It is also a norm to not “state the obvious” in conversations, so if you have nothing purposeful to say, just bear with it and enjoy the silence! Stressful at first, these moments of silence with Finns are great for personal development. Honesty plus trust, then, can go places.

Move

There are several meanings of the word move. It doesn’t necessarily have a good or bad connotation, it very much just is. However, as a verb, one of the meanings of move is to make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction. Over the new year, Heist moved. We moved into the new year, and we moved out of The Working Capitol into our very own studio.

Moving can be an exciting or harrowing experience. It often is both, even for someone who has experience. Moving is inevitable. Everyone would have moved at some point in their life, whether it’s your home, country, office, school or job. Because moving is inescapable, we thought we’d share five things we learned from our recent move.

#1 ANYTHING THAT CAN GO WRONG, PROBABLY WILL

No matter how much planning you do, something will go awry. Setting up the internet for our new office is the perfect example of this law of the universe. We’d gotten in touch with two internet service providers, but due to the festive period, only one was prompt in getting back to us.  Naturally we went for the service provider who replied to us and they estimated that the service would be set up by end January.

But that didn’t happen. We are now in February, and actually, it still hasn’t happened.

After a site inspection, we were told that a new cable had to be laid from outside the building - which of course, is a heritage building protected by multiple layers of permissions and rules….  And this would mean a three to six month wait for the system to be set up. We simply couldn’t wait and had to end our agreement with service provider A. We’ve since been working with service provider B and hope to have everything sorted soon, so prayers are welcome!

#2 DON’T PANIC

Those are the two words that open The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the two words I tried to live by throughout the entire process because, see point #1.

#3 BETTER DONE THAN PERFECT

I learnt that it’s best not to be afraid to make decisions with imperfect information - because the truth is by the time you get all the information you want to make the decision, it is often too late. From choosing tables to ordering the right style of couch, I often had to make decisions on my own and hope it all worked out!

#4 DON’T WALLOW IN THE PROBLEM, FIX IT

Again, see point #1. Having to work in an office without internet is a big hurdle, especially in today’s system. But finding a smart solution - multiple SIM cards and hot spotting through spare phones took us just a few hours to sort. Spring into action, ASAP

#5 PRIORITISE

Everything is urgent, but not everything is important. Prioritising is key if you want to remain sane, not just with moving but in everyday life. Take into account both the long-term and short-term goals and milestones in order to know what should come first, and how much time should be dedicated to each task. This helps you track and build your task list, and you’ll feel accomplished as you progress and check each task off!