designing-thesis My friendship with thesis, by P 

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So, I bid goodbye to my best friend today. She is size A0, folded 8 times into an A5 map. It is hard to describe my feeling after I dropped her off at D104-something. I just know that the past 7 months with her have been a great adventure. I have walked thousands of miles and have surely learnt a lot. Together, we’ve experienced all sort of feelings and emotions too. The road ahead is still long and full of challenges, but I’m glad at least it’s not covered in the midst of uncertainties and doubts anymore. I know where I am heading next and I am more excited than ever to start a new journey.




There is a problem with understanding everyday life in our highly connected and socially mediated reality. That is, we either get bored of the ubiquitousness – lost in the landscape of mundane modernity; or we pick up on new trends such as a minimalist, decluttering lifestyle which has accidentally filtered out the many delightful myths and enigmatic details that everyday life has to offer.

In order to make sense of the everyday life and truly embrace the beauty of it, paying attention to the everyday life ‘itself’ is an important first step. There are two ways of doing it. The first one is to put everyday life under a microscope of theoretical articulation and discourse analysis. The second one, a much more ‘playful’ and heuristic approach, is to go out and walk in it.

Psychogeography is the study of the impact that geographical environment has on human’s mind and behaviour. This paper is a personal documentation of my psychogeographical action research journey over the course of seven months in three different urban settings: Hanoi, Paris and London. It aims to discover and ‘map’ the connection between tangible and intangible manifestations that figure everyday life as a grid of cabalistic entanglement. That includes interrogating everyday life in terms of its dynamic processes, its multi-faceted physical layers of architecture and design objects; its social and historical connection to different cultural groups; and last but not least, its relation to cultural theory and Psychogeography as a learning approach in Higher Education.


To the lights that shine my path, thank you for your patience, your kindness and time:

Dr Mark Ingham, Dr Silke Lange, Tuan Nguyen, Duc Le, Asif Syed, Peter Phu, Chi Vu, Kan Thai, Xuan Phan, Quang-Anh Hoang, Austin Mitchell, Design Management & Cultures comrades and last but not least, my family.


Updates on Year 3

From the beginning, this Entangled Curiosity WordPress blog has served as a place where I documented the learning process of whatever unit I was doing. Some of the blog posts were actually being assessed as parts of the assignments. I can’t really say I haven’t enjoyed the little satisfaction of looking at the archive, of what I have managed to put together in the past 2 years. It is a mess because I haven’t treated it with much care. But at least now that my course is going to an end, and if I am ever asked what I’ve learnt at university, I will know exactly where’s the place to go.

Anyways, Year 3.

In case you haven’t noticed, besides the joy of writing 10.000-word dissertation on a topic of choice (still can’t decide whether it’s a yay or a nay), we also have two other units: Major Project & Professional Practice. The reasons for their existence are:

Major Project: to put your theoretical and contextual studies into practice.

Professional Practice: to prepare you for the workforce by putting professionally both of your theoretical & contextual studies, and practices into a proper portfolio/CV that is to be sent to employers the moment you’re finished at university, or even before that.

(& Thesis: to write about whatever topic you’re obsessed with, but essentially to look at them from your course’s disciplines -e.g: How do you look at the impact of social media on teenagers from a Design Management & Cultures student’s perspectives?).

None of these units requires a blog post,  but I guess since I’m still here and still keeping track of their process in one way or another, it’d be nice to share a few screenshots of what I’ve been up to recently academic-wise.

Major Project:

Currently working on the final proposal.

Me writing this is actually me procrastinating from getting this done:




Mayhem! Madness! I see chaos, I see messes.

But things are falling into place and I am now super excited to get this all written down and so I can actually go out there and explore everything on foot.

Professional Practice:

I don’t really have anything to show. Most of what I’ve done has something to do with Emotional Intelligence, Strength Finder test results or reflective writing, so I guess they exceed the level of personal information allowed here on this blog. But if you are curious and want to discuss EI and Strength Finder, or how they get involved, don’t hesitate to message me or leave a comment.

Ah, also:

Sam  Since I only have classes on two days per week now, I decided to fill my time with a Screen Printing Induction, which has two separate sessions. I’ve finished part A last week and about to have the second one next Thursday, so excited! I hope I will be ready to get some Christmas cards printed out before the break!

The only one time when holding your phone horizontally doesn’t work ====>

(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ︵ ┻━┻

We also had an introduction to Web Design, which, in my opinion (not exclusively), should have been considered to be in Year 1. I had lots of fun nevertheless. Look at what I’ve managed to do:



(Kudos to T for showing me this trick! Html tags are awesome!)



Fall in Richmond Park

One of the most idyllic places in London.

Good for a healing walk and long, meaningful conversation.

Or no talking at all.


Location: Richmond TW10 5HZ

Opening time: 7:30 am – 8:00 pm (November – February)

Transport:  Richmond Station – National Rail or District Line (and then catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham)



Columbia Road Flower Market

Honestly, I do not know how other people do it, but I am barely making it through this hectic, crazy (yet exciting) final year. The amount of work seems to require me to stay indoor and have my eyes fixed on various kinds of flat surfaces for the least of 8 hours per day. Sometimes I just wish that I was doing another Parks & Rec marathon but unfortunately, not all screens are equally entertaining.

Being a third-year student can be very stressful. No, it IS stressful, and hence, it is important to stay both physically and mentally healthy. From going out to breathe for 15 minutes a day, practicing kendo on every Friday to release all the stresses or spending half a day out walking in one of the parks that London has to offer – those are my attempts to stay balanced. However, when it seems like even those are too much to afford, then all I have left to do, is to contemplate the  white chrysanthemum pot – a manifestation of nature that I brought back from Columbia Road Flower Market a while ago, take a deep breath and hope that all the deadlines will soon pass so I can rush back into the arms of Mother Earth.

Below are some pictures I took during my visit to Columbia Road Flower Market. Hope that you can find and acquire your own nature companion/friend/emotional supporter here.


Location:  Columbia Rd, London  E2 7RG

Opening hours:  8am-3pm Sun

How to get there: Hoxton/Shoreditch High St Overground

How I go about my choice of thesis topic

Time flies.

I am writing the last assignment of Year 2. It is probably also the last paper I have to write for a taught class. As of tomorrow, there will be only seminars, our Thesis and Major project in Year 3.

I am taking my time to write my thesis proposal. I have my checklist for choosing a subject in front of me. There are about 14 things in the list. I am stuck at the second one: subject should be of use in future career path.

I have changed my mind for about 4 times. I could not settle down with one idea for too long. Sustainability, arts management, art history, folk arts, traditional arts, art education, self-sufficient lifestyle, social design; they all are interesting topics. But their sparks didn’t last long enough as my curiosity soon found the answer for each knot they had to offer. The more I read, the more I became uncertain about what I wanted to do.

I told myself to keep reading. I told myself not to wait for inspiration to arrive to start working. Motivation is overrated. I just need to keep going; even if it means I have to start over and all over again. I just need to keep searching until I find my sparkle.

And I did. I found my topic roughly 48 hours before the deadline. As I am procrastinating, typing this here, there are about 16 hours left. And I still haven’t got a word out.  I started collecting all the books available to read for 9 hours continuously yesterday. My mind literally exploded, though in a good way. The euphoria it brought me was overwhelming, so much my jaw ached. This is it, I thought, this the kind of sign I am looking for. This is what keeps my curiosity captivated. And though I am still confused and haven’t got my research questions articulated, I have my keywords and know where I am heading to.

Now my proposal will probably not be 2500 words as required. But as I continue to read, I know for sure that together we will go far.

Okay, maybe that was a little overconfident. Risky, and possibly way too ambitious. I am actually a bit paranoid. Sometimes I wonder why I always have a thing for abstraction. I wish Michael was here to give me a push, even if it was as brutal as he did when I was heading to a mist in quest of an answer for my entangled curiosity.

“This is tough! But go for it anyway!” – As he might have said.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, now it’s time to take the first one.

“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence.” (Doyle [1890] 1995: 89-90).


Me wandering in Arita, a little town in the middle of nowhere, an accidental stop during my journey around the Southern of Japan, 2013.

*October and November 2016 updates:

Okay, my topic has changed constantly in the course of time. It is changing as I am writing this sentence right at this very moment. The good thing is that it still keeps me up at nights thinking relentlessly in excitement for the unknowns that the journey I am about to embark on has to offer.


Online portfolio

The final outcome of Practices and Projects Unit 2 is  a portfolio of any format (printed or digital). I first defined portfolio as a collection of works that one is proud of. And by ‘to be proud of’, I meant those works need to be complete, in both content presentation, and most importantly, have to capture some sorts of personal aesthetic and professional skills.

Wrong! I was wrong. Not entirely wrong, but still wrong. It turns out that people as readers and employers, or in this case, my tutors, are more interested in the process of making and learning than the final outcome.

During the past one year, I have been on many different journeys with Projects and Practices. Through all the projects that I have done, it occurs to me that it is not only about what I have learnt, academically, but also, about how I have grown as a person. I sure learnt a lot. Projects & Practices has given me the opportunities to expand my horizons of understanding and depth of various subject knowledge and skills; and to explore my strengths and personalities as I set off each project. Through the making of this portfolio, I have spent some decent time for self-reflection. Though it does not cover everything I have been taught, this portfolio was set to capture my learning curves in the most honest way; and hence (I hope), give a sense of who I am as a design student, the one with that entangled curiosity.

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