5 Mar



Best of Book Bag picture cloud

7 Feb

The Book Bag spring collection Issuu is out now!

3 Feb

A book-like book for the book-like Book Bag…


What’s [the] Issuu?

This blog is now on Issuu!

Haha okok sorry for the oh-too-many “This blog is now on ____!” posts… It’s just darn fun to play with all these cool, new online tools to spice up the blogging experience (and the reading experience too!).

Issuu is a digital publishing website which let you upload and share print materials on the Internet. Embedding books, magazines, or articles on your website/blog gives it a cool, page-flipping effect like so many of the recent e-books on the iPad. It’s also for reading digital publications, like magazines and comics. Something like the Facebook for digital publishing, I guess… I love how all these new tools are based on the freemium model, so that poor guys like me could use them for free and have a cool blog post.


Latest Issuu of the Book Bag lite out now!

Well… meet the Book Bag lite:

As you can see, it’s really a ‘lite’ version of the original Book Bag, with no RFID technology, no unusual ‘floating’ hands to pique public curiosity, no “open book look” to give users the look of carrying around half-pen books as if they were in the midst of reading…

I’m not bitter, I really am not. Hahah.

The main idea is still there – it looks like a book in order to be used like a book, i.e. ‘borrowed’ (users no longer have to borrow the Book Bag lite as part of their loan quota, since there’s no RFID tags) when borrowing other books, ‘returned’ when returning books. So I guess in essence, the Book Bag concept comes down to being a natural part of the reader’s reading experience journey.


What’s next?

So I was wondering how to go on from here, now that this project is coming to a close. After all, this blog really was a project-based account of a design journey, so when the journey ends, what happens next……? I think in the following few posts, I’ll be reviewing the design journey, what were some of the things I enjoyed, what I found challenging, anything worthwhile learnt – stock-take, so to speak.

After all that, what happens depends on how¬†the contest results pan out…. if there are positive results, perhaps this blog will get to live a little longer? Seriously, I’m still not sure about the lifespan of this blog really, and what to do with it…

Any suggestions? ūüėČ


This blog is now on Prezi!

31 Jan

A ‘moving’ story of the Book Bag…

OK I kid. Actually, this cool, zooming Prezi presentation showing the ideation behind the Book Bag had been around since the beginning of this project and blog (see 8 Jan 2011 blog post Brainstorms & Ideation).

But I only just found out how to embed the Prezi presentation into WordPress – thanks to an enlightening post by¬†Panos from wordpress tips blog. So here’s the cool, zooming presentation on how the Book Bag came about, embedded for your viewing ease and pleasure! ūüėČ


Next: meet the Book Bag lite!

Hi. My name is ___, and I’m a bibliophile.

28 Jan

Mugshots of things brought by attendees at a Bibliophile Anonymous gathering hosted on the Book Bag blog.

Book cookie Book clock by Karlsson Book tissue box by qrbiz.com Book USB drive by Genteautoreggente Book case for iPad by Nedrelow Book Bookshelf by Yann Martel and Nick Hornby Book bookend Book case for iPhone Book match box Book Jewellery Box Cabinet Book Box Book cake by skpy Book laptop by Kyle Bean Book laptop case Book necklace Books Coffee Table Book Coasters Book pot by Tokyo Pistol Co., Ltd. Book Seat by Darris Hamroun Taste book by Muji Glow-in-the-dark book Book of lights by Takeshi Ishiguro Book plants by Soo-Yeon Yang Book pillows for workaholics Book Sculpture by Su Blackwell - Alice in Wonderland Book craving by Brian Dettmer Book folding art by Issac Salazar Book as installation art - breathing books by Edith Kollath Book table Book mp3 player by usb.brando.com

Nah… it’s just a random collection of book-shaped or book-inspired things seen on the Internet. Sources are linked to the pictures. I think I’m becoming a bibliophile!


The encore ends, & a new story begins…?

26 Jan

Not disqualified, but not meeting criteria either…

Transcript of dialogue, part II:

Thank you for your detailed explanation and valuable feedback. We have received your Book Bag prototype and must say that your design is very unique. If there is an opportunity, we will re-visit your prototype.

We will not disqualified any entry (including yours) as we value all participants’ efforts and support. However, it is our responsibility to highlight to participants if their entries did not meet the key contest criteria as this will comprise a high weightage in the total score. All entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges.

Once again thank you for your support and participation.


Thank you for taking the time to review the Book Bag and clarifying the situation. I would love to hear any additional feedback from the judging panel, if possible.

I’m also looking forward to future opportunities to work with NLB on higher-order design / design management – of business systems around products/services – such as the possibilities proposed through the Book Bag.

Just to let you know too – I am also in the process of considering an additional, separate submission of a different design.

Thank you for your taking time to reply! ūüôā

So what this this all mean?


The righteous pain of the entrepreneurial designer

Early communication is key

This is a key lesson for designers who dare propose design pieces as a larger business proposal to clients without getting prior buy-in or feedback – your client may simply not want your extra effort! Or they may have other business goals in mind which they didn’t share with an outsider. Or they simply think a designer’s place is only to design pretty things and isn’t about making business proposals. Or they may just not be ready to hear what you are proposing and had to brush you off so that they could move ahead with the project. Or they found you meddlesome in their inner operations. Or or or…

No matter what the reason, to be truly effective and innovative, all sides and stakeholders have to buy into it, or else an idea dies at the seedling stage, no matter how ground-breaking or game-changing the innovation is!

I guess in this case, unlike typical outsourced design projects, there wasn’t the privilege of seeking early buy-in due to the contest format. I wonder if there had been anything I could have done earlier on that could have prevented a U-turn like that… though my feel is that the answer would have been the same, even if I had clarified earlier. And I would have still went ahead to design this Book Bag anyway, as I believed in that it’s the best solution to a real-life problem (not the artificial limits set for the sake of the contest). I had bore out a hope that the Book Bag solution would be potentially mind-opening that it could bypass the administrative barriers…but I guess that wasn’t realistic enough.

The truth is…in the corporate world, implementation is the other half of the battle for innovation where the odds of success are even slimmer (than the success of creation of innovative ideas). The other “faces of innovation” – so aptly put by Tom Kelley in his book¬†The Ten Faces of Innovation – are the “Organising personas” such as the “Hurdler” and the “Director” who can overcome the obstacles and make the other half (the implementation half) of innovation truly happen.


Next move?

I’m considering the Book Bag submission as submitted and under consideration for the contest, though I’m not sure how open-minded the judging panel might be in assessing it.

I’m also thinking of sending in a similar but ‘dumbed down’ entry. It feels a bit like betraying the originality and intention of the Book Bag, but does it? I think I made my point through the submission and the email dialogue to and fro, advocating for the holistic perspective behind the Book Bag concept. And there’s little else more to do, but to sit and wait for the stars to align and the “East wind to blow”, as the famous Chinese proverb so said. There may be some conceptual weight left to leverage yet, through a second separate entry. If ¬†the ‘lite/free’ version gets through and gets popular widespread buy-in, then people may want to buy the ‘HD/paid’ version for more value. This is the freemium business model so popular with web-based services such as Skype, Flickr and apps in Apple’s App Store, and analogous to the situation perhaps…

So……another long design journey of the Book Bag version 2 or Book Bag ‘lite’? NO!!!¬†That would be too painful and painstaking. I’ll build on the work done already, and let you know soon if it’s even possible!





The design story encore

24 Jan

“Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up.”¬†‚ÄĒ Tate Linden.

Indeed. Just when this design story seems to be coming to a close, an encore performance reveals itself. Read on:


ne fine day, I opened up my email inbox and saw that NLB had replied to my email submission. Here’s what they said,




“Dear Jason,

Thank you for your entry and the efforts took to create the brown bag.
Perhaps the contest requirements are not clear and thus cause some confusions. We are sorry about it.
We are looking for a design that will convey the message to encourage library users to return the bag after use. The winning designs will be printed on reusable bags similar to those shopping bags sold by NTUC and Cold Storage.
Hence, would you like to re-submit your design since we have extended the submission deadline to 31st January 2011.

We look forward to your support and participation.”

I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I angry or anything. I really wasn’t. Somehow, I was kinda expecting that this would happen. Why? ‘Cause I knew what I proposed was beyond the design brief, but with right reasons. This came as a surprise to the client, hence it’s no wonder that they would reply as they did. In an ideal scenario, as designer I would have discussed and negotiated with them right at the onset of the project (ideation phase) for a design that goes beyond mere stylistics/aesthetics, as I had done through the Book Bag proposal. Taking into consideration the business, technology, people ¬†aspects around a product design, I had quite simply designed a business proposal rather than a product; the Book Bag¬†was a higher-order sort of design, with the “product” as just one of the means of achieving a particular business goal. Sometimes this is called design management.

This is the kind of design that I’m really passionate about, as it’s more holistic in perspective and encompasses EVERYTHING. I’m tired of the pigeon-hole specialisation and compartmentalisation of the modern work-place. Just do your part and let others take care of the rest. Work in silos. Be efficient, but be emotionally removed from the larger picture. I wish to overcome this epidemic sense of myopia and tunnel vision in our every activity and our work, and to challenge myself and others to re-seek that fulfillment that comes from being part of a larger purpose.

So anyway, here’s my reply, not in retaliation nor anger, but in passionate advocacy to clarify the larger perspectives behind the Book Bag:

Click on image to read zooming version.


Next: the design discourse with NLB continues…