Waking up in Boleh Land

…is something I look forward to all the time. It was the waking up part (not sleeping) that I missed the most while I was abroad. Usually, I have my pups ready to spring up on me when my eyes meet theirs. They’d wait for my cue to jump as that is a signal to cuddle in my arms and then continue sleeping with me. Now I have stopped doing so after learning the hard way that I am sensitive to animal fur. So, as to not disappoint my pups, the moment I sense them walking into the room, I give them a pat on their heads for being so warm to me and hospitable day after day. I put my feet on the ground. They start doing little hops. They wag their tails non-stop. They are generous with their smiles, their big round eyes looking at me. That’s what I like to see each time I wake up in Boleh Land.

Mel and Pi (right) have enriched our lives greatly and taught us the values of patience, kindness, of keeping calm and the simple joy of being around dogs.

CUTOUT Magazine Named Best of Golden Pin Design Award in 2014, Puts Malaysia on the World Map of Design

Malaysia’s very own independent design magazine takes home a coveted trophy and international recognition for good design under the Award’s Visual Communication category

cutout magazine golden pin design awards 2014
CUTOUT Magazine with the Best of Golden Pin Design Awards 2014 trophies

Malaysia’s CUTOUT Magazine was picked by international jury members to win Best of Golden Pin Design Award in 2014. Just 21 of 416 nominees from across the huaren (Chinese-speaking) world took home the prestigious trophy in a stunning award ceremony at Taipei’s Songshan Cultural and Creative Park tonight.

Jay Lim the founder and principal design consultant of Tsubaki Studio, who won a Best Design award places high standard and quality on CUTOUT, saying, “It took us six years to produce this magazine. We put a lot of effort into this project. It’s possible to say that CUTOUT is the only dedicated Malaysian graphic design magazine, and we’re grateful that the jury members appreciate the Malaysian design industry.”

As the editor-in-chief of CUTOUT, Vivian Toh was emotional in her acceptance speech: “It is an honour to receive this Award. It is the greatest gift thus far, and we thank you for believing in us. I want to think that we’ve made our parents and our country proud for without their support there will be no today. Just like Golden Pin Design Award is a platform for competition and the exchange of Chinese design from around the world, CUTOUT is a platform for designers from Southeast Asia to gain global exposure.”

Judged by Tommy Li, brand designer and consultant from Hong Kong, who is renowned for his “black humour” and “audacious” visual designs, has this to say about CUTOUT: “Although the Malaysian design industry is still in its infancy, this magazine already possesses an international style and contributes greatly to the local design industry as a leader in the field.” Li is a multiple award winner himself, having been a recipient of over 580 design awards to date.

The Golden Pin Design Award celebrated its 33rd year by opening up the Award to international submissions for the first time, which came to a total of 1,901 entries. The significance of this Award can be felt and seen expressed through diverse range of works by design studios and agencies from the world namely China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, America and Australia.

And the press release begins to roll out

By morning I will have the local media receive this wonderful news about CUTOUT’s sweet achievement at Taipei’s Golden Pin Design Awards. This is only the first press release. Hopefully there would be a couple more written in different languages for different media platforms by Sunday noon.  This is worth it – I’m feeling determined.


Scaling heights of 40,000 ft above sea level to Taipei

…I knew I was in for a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t really thinking about where we were going, anyway. Honeymoon in Ximending? Okay, good! Anywhere but KL for a week. All I wanted to do was to relax and unwind – that’s all that matters to me and for my husband to have some time out from work.

Upon our arrival at the Taipei International Airport, there weren’t many people at the waiting gate. Suddenly, I heard loud voices from what sounded like they came from young boys and girls, and what I saw was heartwarming. Indeed, they were a young group and two boys were holding up a big red banner saying “Welcome Back”. They looked to me like university students and had I been the one they were welcoming, I’d be really moved by the whole camaraderie.

The street in Ximending at night. Bright lights and chatters. Sun sets early in this part of the world and day turns to dawn by 4 o’clock in the evening.

At the very least, I was constantly being reminded by him that going on this trip could make a big difference to us. But how different? The answer lies in the Golden Pin Design Award 2014. I’ve always had a strong feeling that we stand a chance. You gotta believe in yourself and believe that you can. So, this same dialogue went on and on and on until the big day arrived to announce the winners.

When you think you’re lost, you’re not even close. Just look up and translate what you see into memories in your head. You’ll find your way eventually. That’s what being on a trip is about – discovering the undiscovered!

The Songshan Cultural & Creative Park is just 5 stops from Ximen Station, which is 10 minutes walking distance from the hotel we booked in. On the way there, the streets in Ximending are identical and I couldn’t quite register my location most of the time. Every corner of a building tends to have a fruit stall and kiosks selling things. You can’t get lost in this maze; you just have to look up at the buildings and learn about them as each building has a unique build, colour and height.

Much to our delight, our Taipei friends treated us to a hearty dinner at a place not far away from Ximending the night before the Golden Pin Design Award ceremony.

One blurry take before we both joined the rest of the Design Mark winners and design masters at the Eslite Performance Hall in anticipation for opening of the Golden Pin Design Award ceremony. Celebrities turned up to show their support to design too!

I still prefer travelling without a camera

…and let the motions of daily life play in my head. I just returned from Taiwan late last night with this tune from Anna Kendrik’s Cups as though playing in the background. Our flight got delayed for about an hour and because of that I got to see more of Taipei’s barren land from the “take off” point before we really said our goodbyes. Now I’ve come home feeling motivated!

It’s great making new friends with the people from the Taiwan Design Centre. The places I’ve been to, like the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park where the prestigious 33rd Golden Pin Design Award 2014 was held, got my body chilled from the cold for hours but I was kept warm with their great hospitality.

A walk at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
A walk at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

It felt like snow when I was out walking in the park but it wasn’t snowing . The drizzle felt soft as it hit my face and disappeared as it touched my mom’s grey sweater.  There’s always something that I would bring along with me on any of my trips so I could still feel at home even when I’m far away from my family. Wish you were here to experience the winter in Taipei! 

CUTOUT Magazine the only entry from Malaysia in the 2014 Golden Pin Design Award, wins a Mark title

That’s good news, isn’t it?

 I’m so happy about it.

The fact that our country Malaysia is there in the list of winners just makes me feel proud. I know my husband feels the same way too. You don’t know how many times he pestered me and reminded me to submit the Award’s online application form. We almost didn’t make it. But you see–with determination and faith and by making our entry count, we may stand a chance.


It turns out that there is only one entry from Malaysia and that’s coming from us. What about the rest? A total of 416 designs from 5 Asian countries have been selected as Mark Winners.

416 designs from 5 Asian countries take home the Golden Pin Design Mark win
416 designs from 5 Asian countries take home the 2014 Golden Pin Design Mark win


What makes this year’s Award interesting is that the Taipei-based Award is open to international companies to participate for the first time. Companies designing innovative products and projects for the hua ren (Chinese-speaking) market are eligible.


In other words, for example, a Chinese-speaking design company (TSUBAKI) designing an English-based magazine (CUTOUT) for a Chinese-speaking publisher (The Kraft Store) can give the magazine a shot at the Golden Pin Design Award 2014.


Did you know?


For the first time in the 33-year history of the Award close to 40% of the Mark winning entries were submitted by companies based in other countries and administrative regions in Asia including China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore.


Chinese companies led the international pack with 147 Design Marks across the Golden Pin Design Award’s four categories: Product Design, Packaging Design, Visual Communication Design and Interior Design.


Of the 46 entries submitted by companies from Hong Kong, 15 win a Golden Pin Design Mark in the Product Design, Visual Communication Design and Interior Design categories, respectively.


Taiwanese companies remain in the majority with 249 Design Marks across all award categories.


There’s something more exciting…


All of the 416 Golden Pin Design Mark winning products and projects are in the running for a coveted 2014 Golden Pin Best Design trophy. Judging for this honour took place on 8 October, in Taipei, Taiwan where an international jury of experts was assembled.


The best designs will be announced at the award ceremony in December. Which means each of us 416 Mark Winners have an equal chance of winning that trophy.


Who will be the lucky one?







Thoughts on CUTOUT winning the Design Mark – Golden Pin Design Award 2014

Congratulations to CUTOUT Magazine for being selected as one of the Design Mark winners of the Golden Pin Design Award 2014
Congratulations to CUTOUT Magazine for being selected as one of the Design Mark winners of the Golden Pin Design Award 2014


CUTOUT started out as an independent magazine five years ago, since 2009. It was the time that I remember quite a few memorable things. For one, I can remember tearing pullouts from other favourite magazines of mine, and then putting them together to give me what we all now call as CUTOUT.


I’d like to make it clear that it wasn’t as easy as getting a license from KDN to operate a publication. It wasn’t really just the two of us that believed in our idea. There were others that made sure we fought hard to see CUTOUT fly, and it flew up high indeed with their blessings and support.


I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts on CUTOUT’s proudest achievement so far so that you would understand how it could have possibly happened.


I characterise CUTOUT as a people’s design magazine. Our decision to let fellow designers to become writers is primarily driven by the fact that the design community comprises so many precious voices and talents that we believe it would be a treasured thing to showcase to the world.


How did we get this far in winning at the Golden Pin Design Award 2014, being selected as one of their Design Mark winners? Everyone’s thinking it’s the design. The magazine looks nice and the content is great. Beyond all that matt-finished look, the answer lies on the other side of the coin. Let me explain.


First, there’s “willingness”.


We are lucky to have friends who helped us in ways they could with no requirements. If not for them, we would have missed out the quirky teaser ads. They were our best critics – and models!


Second, there’s “contribution”.


These people have been with us since day one and will never bend their rules just to please us. And I like them more because of their personalities that are so different and unique. To the writers, designers, contributing editors, interns and our very own team, we won the Award for you!


Third, there’s “support”.


We have made many new friends (and sometimes run into acquaintances) during the roadshows that we have organised in the past. The support that we get from the lecturers and students is indescribable.


Fourth, there’s “sharing”.


We understand the importance of understanding design from its basic core, so CUTOUT creates a platform whereby design practitioners can speak to an audience of learners about 3 basic things: what is design, what design can do and what they do with design. This may sound simple but it’s not, and the credit goes to them who accepted my invitation and at the same time, allowed themselves to grow into better, courageous speakers.


And lastly, fifth, there’s “element of surprise”.


Our decision to stay independent led us to more unexpected adventures and interesting places. It has also given us all cool projects and fantastic tag teams. All of these only make the heart fond of the good times but let me explain why it’s actually the opposite. All these things that we’re doing, we’re doing for you who might one day be a part of the creative industry.


Our motivation is simple – we want to make the best out of the times we have now by testing our limits as individuals and set breakthroughs. We want continue to inform and inspire the new generation of designers with anecdotes from the great thinkers and doers of this industry.


It is CUTOUT’s first time taking home an international award. I am ecstatic and happy to find out that we have been selected as one of the 416 Design Mark winners out of 1,901 entries. Design Mark winners are in the running for the next big titles there are in the Golden Pin Design Award 2014, which will be announced in December.


We don’t know of our chances in the game but it does make me feel hopeful about the future. How we got to this far after five years is because we have you – supportive families, friends, partners and readers. We want to show you our thanks by dedicating this win to all of you.






The first time I see glow on my face I smiled…

…to myself not because I just had a good time with the laser facial treatment but because at that moment afterwards, I see this woman in the mirror and she’s not perfect but she’s happy. The redness on her cheeks and those tiny bumps (seem annoying to her but not anymore) can tell that that her skin is tired from all that stress plus being sick for weeks.

Making a visit to Glo Laser Centres and meeting their laser specialist, Erin, was not in my personal schedule. I met her husband first for a business meeting last week. They opened in early October and he wanted to see how our agency (J&K Brands) can add more ‘glow’ to their brand. In all seriousness, I made sure I got as much information as possible about the services they are providing.

While it was necessary for me to have a go at the laser treatment, like any individuals out there I have had my moments of doubt whether (a) laser is safe; (b) is the process painful; and (c) can my skin take it.

So, Lucas, Erin’s husband also her business partner, assured me that I would enjoy nothing but a pleasant experience — and it only takes 15 minutes to complete one session and absolutely no downtime. I take this information very seriously. From what I understand, ‘no downtime’ means your skin recovers and regenerates cells as soon as the laser facial is completed. And, you can put your make up on instantly without worrying it would clog your pores. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend you do that but it’s a personal thing, you know? When Erin says it’s ok, then ok-lah!

So, I had SkinfixTM laser facial done on me, and then she always remembers to rub a little sunblock onto my face. If I so wish, I can apply a thin layer of BB foundation on top of it and draw my eyebrows, and I’m a happy girl for the rest of the day.  So much so I left Glo Laser Centres with glow on my face, and ideas started flashing in my head thinking what would be best for their business.

Ah, I love my job!

Erin the laser specialist at work. Glo Laser Centre is in Mid Valley Megamall, Lot No. F-081. Clicking on the pic will take you to the webpage.

This is what I like about their packages so far. There are NO packages. No lengthy follow-ups. No up-sell. But heck, why worry? Go with an open mind. Learn how their non-invasive laser facial works for your acne, pigmentation, dull skin and wrinkles. I was surprised it was a lot easier that I expected.

When you drop by, just ask for their New Client Introductory Treatment Offer. That’s 3 treatments for the price of RM238. On usual days, one single treatment already costs that much. Well, I heard that you can share out your treatments with family and friends and still keep your pocket whole, which is great!

Well, some people would say that good things don’t last. And, this applies to the offer. I know it’s not for very long.