This Sunday is the day! If you’re in Singapore on November 10th, come to our showcase where I’ll be exhibiting The Apocalypse Project at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. The following Sunday is our panel talk. More details about the events here.

Here is the showcase flyer, courtesy of ArtScience Museum:

Showcase Flyer

I’m excited, and I hope so is my newly costumed Apocalypse Squad:

The Apocalypse Squad

I feel like we’re astronauts. Hope to see you!

(Or maybe re-crew-ting for The Apocalypse Crew. Haha. Ha. Ha. Uhm. Yes. Anyway, back to this post.)

Last week, I was busy recruiting students to be exhibition attendants for our Art/Science Residency Showcase on November 10th. There are too many pieces in my part of the show that I can’t do it alone. I posted this ad in Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore, where I currently live.


I was expecting to have to beg the students, as it’s midterm crunchtime for most of them. However, I now have six awesome people who have agreed to help! And for two of them, they come with this interesting application letter:

Dear Catherine,

It is with great interest (and perhaps some desperation) that

XXXXX / Chinese Male / Year One Law / Year One Tembusu

and, I,

XXXXX / Chinese Male / Year One Architecture / Year One Tembusu

enlist as exhibition attendants for impending The Apocalypse Project.
After having read your A4 print of a woman wearing a hazmat respirator in our recently-LED-lit elevators of Tembusu (the dimly lit environment did enhance the dystopian intent of your exhibition, though making posters slightly harder to read) , here prize two eager students at your disposal.

We believe that your exhibition would prove valuable, enlightening and practical if we were to face the brink of extinction (have you yet not seen the signs?).
Perhaps we could also offer our insights during the tour, perspective of a Law and Architecture student (if our professional endeavours prove relevant, if not useful).

We will be faithful minions to your cause – to educate people in end of the world preparations, as gaily as possible.
We will be the last two remaining outlasting volunteers, lasting in resolve, even if it were the last few days to the end of the world. Last.

I hope you find our response to your conch call and enthusiasm appealing, if not incredibly weird (both strange and funny).
Hope to hear from you soon.


I replied back with a ‘yes’ and an attempt to be as clever in language—something about how I didn’t know whether to laugh or to lock the front door—and here was their reply:

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 1.52.44 AM

What crazy person wouldn’t hire these two?

On another note, I wonder what kind of emails I’ll get if I design something more complex, such as a dating service or something.

In the middle of researching for smells for The Apocalypse Project, I came across Sifr Aromatics, an independent niche perfumery located on Arab Street in Singapore.

Oh true apothecary! Johari Kazura of Sifr Aromatics

Oh true apothecary! Johari Kazura of Sifr Aromatics

Mr. Kazura is a third generation perfume maker. He learned the business on the job, and also took some courses in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. Perusing his shop, I came across all the books I read during the time I was doing some of my graduate school projects on smell. His store is a beautiful cornucopia of beautiful Eqyptian bottles, as well as antiques.



Thanks to the store, I finally came up with a list of smells for relaxation for The Apocalypse Project. You know, when that time comes when we have to evacuate climate change disaster areas and people are panicking. The list includes lavender and lemon. Rose was a good candidate, too, however, it’s too expensive and thus not a practical choice. Peppermint was added to the list because it promotes alertness.


Sifr is Arabic for “zero.” Johari says that in perfumery, “You start with nothing … you are a blank slate … and then later you end up with something.” And that something, smell, permeates.

Sifr is located at 42 Arab Street. Contact Johari Kazura at and visit their website here. Many thanks to Mr. Kazura and Hanz Monifiero Medina for all the help!

This past Hari Raya Haji, a holiday in Singapore, I went to the Night Safari with a couple of friends. I’m always interested in how cities look at conservation, which to me has the tension of having flora and fauna thrive in their natural habitat and having humans be a non-intrusive witness to them in the hopes that they will be inspired to care for these organisms.

No flash allowed, people! But thanks to the safari’s simulated moonlight, I was able to take some photos.

Here’s a pride of lions (siblings, I’m told). I love big cats!

An otter!


Birds hanging out.


This photo is a bit blurry, but it’s all I have left of my first glimpse of a Malayan tapir. What a beautiful creature!




Today in the lab, I figured out some ways to turn a garbage bag into a dress. You know, in case that day may come when we can’t afford clothes any longer and will have to resort to trash to clothe ourselves.

Naturally, for The Apocalypse Project.

Here are some photos taken by Lin Kuek of the Future Cities Lab. Thanks, Lin!

A garbage bag can be a skirt:


A sarong:


An off-shoulder dress:


Or a halter:


I can classify the past few days as Learning Things I’m Very Interested in But I Probably Won’t Want a PhD In. It’s great to be learning from others while on a residency. Here are two events:

1. Numbering Climate Change: A Carbon Workshop by Dr. Ingmar Lippert

It is the middle of my residency, and one thing I realize is that while I am currently doing a project on climate change, I don’t want to label myself as a “climate change artist” necessarily. I think that I specialize primarily in how I do things, instead of what I do them for (i.e. a focus on systems over outcomes, though it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the latter). There has been and always will be a leaning towards environmentally themed projects—something I cannot undo, since I travel a lot and I’m usually outdoors. But I don’t think the bulk of my day has been about reading climate change reports (thank goodness). As an interaction / experience designer I have mainly been looking into turning bigger, more macro issues, into personal experiences that people can relate to (and hopefully care about after they encounter the project).

That being said, I think that projects should have a lot of research going on in the background, even those things I’m not particularly thrilled about. And in this case, it meant me voluntarily going through a workshop this Saturday on how the carbon market works. Led by Tembusu instructor Dr. Ingmar Lippert, it was about the politics of carbon trading and how the carbon market entered its current state.

Ingmar, laughing at my horror of dry academic papers. Thanks, man.

It was a whole day affair, and I missed taekwondo that day (and you all know that never happens). But for the record, I was very enlightened and I do not regret doing it, even if it meant reading all these depressing academic papers. I also caught myself repeatedly talking about how the users (meaning the people) should have been more involved in these systems, especially as local communities suffer the most during carbon offsetting projects. Like I said, I’m definitely here as a designer. Does anyone remember this line from a certain awesome movie?

2. Is Singapore a Model City?

This Monday, the Tembusu Forum hosted four speakers to talk about and debate  the question, “Is Singapore a Model City?” Included were Professor Heng Chye Kiang, Dean of the School of Design and Environment of the National University of Singapore; Mr. Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Livable Cities, Ministry of National Development; Professor Ian Smith, Principal Investigator of the Future Cities Lab; and Dr. Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of Singapore’s Housing and Development Board and Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of National Development (a wonderful speaker, by the way!). Professor Tommy Koh introduced the speakers and moderated the discussion afterwards. They gave great talks, but it was even better when the students asking really smart questions. As an expat, it’s always interesting to have a crash course of a city’s history and dreams for the future.


L-R: Prof. Heng Chye Kiang, Dr. Cheong Koon Hean, Prof. Tommy Koh, Mr. Khoo Teng Chye, Dr. Ian Smith

Here are some sneak peeks into the things I am working on for this residency.

I am reaching that point when my projects are deemed too crazy by people that I have to be the one to model it. The first photo is by the lovely Cheryl Song of the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, who has patiently put up with me.

1 - Climate Change Couture - Catherine Young

2 - Climate Change Couture - Catherine Young 3 - Climate Change Couture - Catherine Young 4 - Earth vs Humans - Catherine Young


Follow the project site at