Project Revival at the 2-Day Challenge!

While The Upcycle Project was concluded as of 2013, this March we brought it back for a brief but intensive two days at The Upcycle Project: 2-Day Challenge, kindly hosted by Bishan Public Library from 22-23 March 2014! This workshop was part of the Press Play series curated by the National Library Board, a very exciting line-up of arts programmes at our public libraries that included street dance, typography and crafts. 

Participants with their first iteration of prototypes at the end of Day 1

Participants with their first iteration of prototypes at the end of Day 1

Our participants brought such great energy and enthusiasm to the workshop, and took to each part of the programme with gusto - from on-site fieldwork which involved engaging library users on their needs and experiences, to brainstorming, developing and prototyping design ideas using upcycled materials. And because participatory design is about seeing everyday people as legitimate stakeholders and involving them at every step of the process as far as possible, we 'live' tested the prototypes with the library users at the end of the two days to seek their feedback on how to improve the designs.

Sharing stories from their fieldwork with library users

Sharing stories from their fieldwork with library users

Second iteration of upcycled prototypes in progress

Second iteration of upcycled prototypes in progress

Second iteration of upcycled prototypes in progress

Second iteration of upcycled prototypes in progress

'Live' testing with users - curious but cautious at first...

'Live' testing with users - curious but cautious at first...

'Live' testing with users - ... and then they took over and made it their own! 

'Live' testing with users - ... and then they took over and made it their own! 

'Live' testing with users - many thoughtful feedback obtained

'Live' testing with users - many thoughtful feedback obtained

Ta-da! Introducing the Pic-Mat which the children loved 

Ta-da! Introducing the Pic-Mat which the children loved 

Ta-da!! Introducing the Go-cart which many people found useful! 

Ta-da!! Introducing the Go-cart which many people found useful! 

We're so proud of everyone for having faith in the process of community engagement and participation and doing such a great job with the resources they were given. For us, this really goes to show how much creativity and resourcefulness we all have, as long as we are open to all possibilities and think and build with our hands and hearts. 

The Upcycle Project through the lens of Amelia Tang

All the objects and items collected in Phase 1

All the objects and items collected in Phase 1

At last, the exhibition has come to a close. Thank you for all the support - we've had a good run and are happy to have been able to share the stories, objects and relationships that were such an integral part of our journey with the residents and designers, with you.

And for those who didn't manage to make it to the exhibition, here are the images that were showcased, courtesy of Amelia Tang

See you again next year in 2014!

Snapshots of a Community: Exhibition Launch & Sharing Session

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On 22nd November 2013, we unveiled the final phase of The Upcycle Project - an exhibition of the project’s journey with an interactive installation - at a cosy launch party held at Fast Food for Thought, 8QSAM. To kick it off we had a sharing session where the participating designers spoke about their experiences in the project to an audience that included other designers, supporters and also over 40 MacPherson residents who turned up for the opening. 

The exhibition, held at The Civic Museum by School of Thought, showcases snippets and snapshots of the relationships that were formed around each object and the lives that it has touched. These images and stories together form a larger narrative of the collective capacity of residents and designers to contribute to the neighbourhood, using the resources and skills that they hold. As part of the exhibition, our team created an interactive installation, Who am I in my neighbourhood?, inviting visitors to discover their community personas through a series of questions.

The Upcycle Project Team 

The Upcycle Project Team 

The Upcycle Project Team & Yvonne from MacPherson Community Club 

The Upcycle Project Team & Yvonne from MacPherson Community Club 

The Upcycle Project Team with Sonia from The Civic Museum

The Upcycle Project Team with Sonia from The Civic Museum

We couldn't have achieved any of this on our own, but worked together with an amazing team to crystallize the exhibition and launch.

This project would not have been possible without the participation of these individual designers and organizations:

Liang Yanjie, Genine Loo, Ng Xin Yi, Priscilla Foo, Jonathan Yue; Ibnur, Diana, Farah, Robin and Poh Hong from Sustainable Living Lab & Designed; Liew Hwee Min from ReStore; Tan Hong Guan from Prodd Design


Curated and Produced by Participate In Design 

Photo exhibition in collaboration with Amelia Tang of MeLa de Gypsie Photography 

In collaboration with The Civic Museum, School of Thought, Fast Food for Thought 

Supported by MCCY, MacPherson Community Club, PAssionArts 

Photographer: Jonathan Yue  

Phase 2: Featuring Designed and SL2

We have been receiving updates from Sustainable Living Lab and Designed on their co-creation process with Mdm N. We are super excited to see the end result of this collaboration! It has been amazing seeing the beautiful relationships developing between the designers and residents.  

Phase 2: Featuring Genine + Yanjie, the design duo

A lovely post by our designers, Genine and Liang Yanjie who got their hands dirty designing and making a games table for Mdm C as part of The Upcycle Project. There was so much thought behind the upcycling the old coffee table to now becoming a fun games table so that Mdm C can play with her friends and grandchildren. Click on the link below to read more.


The Upcycle Project has moved into Phase 2!

Our apologies for the silence on the blogosphere. One of us just got married and another is often knee-deep in work + our other P!D project, and amidst all this we are still progressing - our deepest thanks to all the designers who have come on board Phase 2 since July!

Some time back in July we sent out our design brief for Phase 2 inviting designers that we know or have heard of, who have inspired us or piqued our curiosity, to join us in The Upcycle Project. Truth be told, none of us knew what to expect -  this project is after all meant to be an experiment in participatory design. But soon enough we started getting a few positive replies and we were always happy to meet each one in person.

Concurrently, we were also meeting residents at their homes to understand them better. Some of these were people we met at the The UpcycleArt Village in April, and others we crossed paths with along the way.

We then started matching each designer with a resident whose needs we felt the designer could meet. To date, we are happy to say we have completed two rounds of exchanges - in time for Raya! - and are looking forward to the others that are to come.

We love our designers.

We are eternally grateful for the residents who have opened their homes and hearts to us.  

And of course, to our team of volunteers, you are a blessing to us all and to the project.

The Faces of MacPherson by Amelia Rhea

As part of The UpcycleArt Village, the awesome and talented photographer, Amelia Rhea, from the Basically Team, took photographs of residents at the UpcycleArt Village.

"The idea was to not only share works of art about people and events outside of this community but to also feature local residents in their everyday life as works of art.  In exchange for being part of this project Amelia also shared the portraits with the families; instead of merely treating them as subject in our work, we wanted to also give them something in return."    

- taken from

It is really amazing to see a different perspective of The Upcycle Village.

Enjoy the images! 

To view more of Amelia Rhea's work, click 


The UpcycleArt Village (Part II)

We apologise for the long wait for Part II of the Village! P!D was on hiatus for the past couple of weeks as we needed time to recharge and reflect. Now that we're back, we're raring to go and will be rolling out Phase 2 of The Upcycle Project in the weeks to come.

But for now, to complete our recap of The UpcycleArt Village on 27th April -

The exhibition of objects and stories and the Community Exchange were not the only things that were happening that day. There was also a host of fringe activities to complement the exhibition, such as perfomances, upcycled craft workshops, etc. We saw many happy faces as people of all ages learnt to make bags out of old T-shirts and bobby pins out of fabric scraps, among others. Thanks to all our wonderful facilitators and instructors for bringing out these local talents within the MacPherson community!

In the evening we were also happy to host the 6th installment of BASICALLY,  otherwise known as BASICALLY, 06: Upcycle!. BASICALLY is a platform for local creatives to share their works, and we couldn't have been more delighted to have them join us in the heartlands. Amidst the awesome showcase of music and film, we also shared about P!D and The Upcycle Project, made new friends and reconnected with old ones, and were just glad to see the outdoor living room that we had created out of the objects be part of this experience.


None of this would have been possible without our key project partner, MacPherson CC, and of course our lovely volunteers, each of whom came into our lives in their own special way: Genine, Yanjie, Anthony, Caleb, Calvin, Martin, Renhui, Adib, Set, Chris, Mavis, Nadira, Adeline. We are thankful for each and every one of you for all your help and contribution to this humble initiative, and look forward to having you join us in Phase 2.

The UpcycleArt Village (Part I)

And so we close Phase 01 of The Upcycle Project with a bang - with lots of fun, laughter, hard work, new friends and good cheer all around. On 27th April we curated a pop-up community space at Aljunied Ave 2, turning a selection of the furniture and objects we have collected and (for a few) upcycled to date into an outdoor living room. People from all walks of life - residents young and old, families and children, old and new friends from within and beyond MacPherson - came down, had a seat, and chatted with us about the project and how they can help.

We were very fortunate to have, as part of the exhibition of collected objects and their stories, these brilliant illustrations by Anthony Chung, an architect by day and talented artist by night. Anthony was one of the participants in our Saturday Sessions previously, and did an amazing job translating some of the stories and ideas from these Sessions visually. His drawings, as well as those by other participants, were displayed on giant hang tags that accompanied each object, telling stories of real and imagined pasts. 

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Those of you who visited our Village that day would have participated in the Community Exchange that we were running all day, where stories, ideas and suggestions for The Upcycle Project were bartered for sweet treats and fun activities. We are grateful to each and every one of you who took part in the exchange, and for your willingness to share your stories about the exhibits, give pre-loved items from your homes and suggest things that your friends and neighbours in MacPherson would find useful.

Part II on the Village will follow shortly, so do look out for it!

Making Maggies


Thanks to everyone who came down on Saturday and joined us in our effort to Make Maggies - our original* log stools made from magazine overstock - for The UpcycleArt Village on 27th April. We had a lot of fun teaching it and hope you enjoyed the hands-on process as much as we did. It was a great opportunity for us to make new friends with youths living or volunteering in MacPherson, product designers, environment advocates, and many more.

We will be exhibiting the Maggies that were made at this workshop at the Village, so be sure to join us then! 

For those of you who were not able to make this session, don't fret! We have put together a PDF tutorial that you can download here

*Maggie is co-designed by P!D in partnership with Genine Loo, Christopher Chan and Yvonne Gao. Many thanks!

Behind the Scenes: Making Maggie

A shout-out to Chris, who is part of the Dream Team behind last year's youth-organized countdown party at MacPherson; Yvonne, our partner at MacPherson CC and a constant source of support to us in many ways; Helen, also from the CC who dropped by and helped out; and Genine, a new friend and eco-warrior whom we are very happy to have got to know, and who does super interesting work in both the arts and upcycling scene (check out her website and blog!). 

The group of us spent half of last Saturday building and testing out prototypes, upcycling publishers' overstocks into stools. The whole process took more time than we had expected as we experimented with different ideas of making the stools and had to figure out the best way of creating strong, durable joints, but we were all really happy with the end result : ) 

We'll be conducting a workshop on 13 Apr 2013 (Sat), from 10am to 12 noon at MacPherson CC, where we'll teach participants how to replicate these log stools that we've affectionately named Maggie. Look out for our online sign up form, or simply drop us an email at by this Friday, 12 Apr.