The Bookmarkers Affair: The event for book lovers. Because we are one of them.

“Let’s exchange books” is a simple idea that came about from a casual meeting with a few friends in the creative industry. TBA will give an opportunity to people to gather at a place on a weekend to hang out and learn and be inspired.

The Bookmarkers Affair

One of the first community events this year conceptualised by a collective of people who love art and design, this “affair” is for all to experience. The Bookmarkers Affair is an attempt to engage people in a conversation about the books they have read, and willing to exchange their books with another person for a new experience. This experience may be unwelcomed by some, but it is also this kind of experience that, to others, will become a way to lead them into a new friendship and a new realm of knowledge. Not just that, books as a conversation starter can really become an engagement tool in fostering ties and understanding between people.

As there will be varieties of books on display brought in by different vendors, we will leave it up to them to decide how to introduce their books. One thing is for sure, that we will be confronted with stories about art, design, and living. The Bookmarkers Affair is comprised of an array of engaging talks, sharing sessions, and film screenings, including a book/art market that presents a group of people who are ready to share/exchange with you their books or craft products. They might even try to find a new owner for a particular book they have owned for some time, and if you’re up for that kind of experience, be sure to bring along something (a book at best or some kind of print collateral e.g. vintage posters, collectibles, cool souvenirs) valuable to trade with. Books can even be on sale although this depends on the vendors (aka Bookmarkers), and the bartering between the Bookmarkers and the interested buyer.

I hope got you excited about this event already! Find out about the place where we’re putting up TBA here: Event: The Booksmarkers Event @ Sunway Nexis on 11th March 2017

Audiences will enjoy a preview of a design documentary (film title to be announced later), which depicts the design collective’s attempt to create awareness about design as an art, a skill, an interest, a passion, and also an escape. For certain people, design is seen to be an adventure of the inner soul – like art. For others, design is a profession that is to be respected for its ability to empower a person, corporation, and the society – basically, the world. Therefore, The Bookmarkers Affair will engage visitors in a series of public talks that focus on the significance of books in the community from the perspective of a designer or a crafter.

The Highlight
The primary component of this event is the book swap. We gather people who are interested in exchanging books with other people, provided that those books are educational, informative and/or entertaining and generally healthy for reading by the general public. Book swaps are a fun way to meet new people and learn new things whilst improving literacy.

Other than the book swap, there will also be:
– Design documentary screening
– Talks on design by designers and crafters
– Special appearance by Doof Industries (cool bean bags to lounge on for reading)

Get instant updates here: The Bookmarkers Affair – Facebook Event Page

The reason for The Bookmarkers Affairs is to build a tight-knitted community of book lovers. As the saying goes, know thy neighbour as thyself. So, let the book become a conversation starter for you and everyone else!

To find your way there, click here: Show me the map to Sunway Nexis, Kota Damansara



Venue: Sunway Nexis (Ground Floor, near Coffee Bay)
Date: 11th March 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 11am – 5pm

Bonus: Complimentary (free) booth for vendors*

*If you have books to swap, you can get a table at no charge. If you’re a crafter, artist, coffee maker, homemaker, bookbinder, etc, it’s free too.

Reserved for the first 20 vendors.
For booking, kindly email to

“Must do” — before the first meeting

Every time that I have to speak to someone new about branding and my design business, I get thrilled about the first meet. I enjoy the time I have to spend before the meeting.

I would thank the universe for working in my favour and for sending me a lead. (so important, I tell you. We must be grateful.)

Do a background check on this person aka client.

Trash out the design collaterals we had done and check whether we have portfolios relevant to this client’s brand or business.

Share some links from our Tsubaki Studio on Behance site prior to the meeting.

Go through my brand slides.

Think of all the possibilities that can happen during the meeting.

Prepare questions beforehand and keep them in the notebook for use during the discussion.

Glance through my wardrobe and work out that “glam enough, confident enough” look.

Give myself a pep talk in front of the mirror while I ‘paint’ my face.

What if I’m late?! Well, I usually don’t, but maybe it’s worth to share with you in my next post on how I get out from this embarrassing situation. Till then!

Knock, knock Mr Postman is at the door

Oh, I know, that parcel is not for me. Of course not, it’s written in Chinese with our address. I highlighted this to my husband over Whatsapp.


So, I went on and did the unwrapping of the parcel aka the gift like Christmas came early 😀

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.21.19 PM
*oin=pin – typo error; always happens with the auto correction

With permission, I cut open the top of the parcel, and gently tore apart the top flap of the brown envelope (it’s thick, good quality kraft paper). I don’t know why I do that with envelopes but I’m the kind of person that wants her soon-to-be discarded items to still be as neat as can be.

Yup, confirm sure. It is the certificates from the Golden Pin Design Award that we’ve been waiting for, and oh my, look at the finishing!

Gold stamping at the right places...
Gold stamping at the right places… (front, the cert and back)
Then I put two of our latest covers together with the certs
Then I put two of our latest covers together with the certs
Then, I grabbed the awards from the black cases where we put them...checking out the natural lighting from the sun
Then, I grabbed the awards from the black cases where we put them…snap snap with backup from the sun’s natural lighting

What a way to end the year! I hope to see our new friends in Taipei again. Also hoping that there will be many more designers from Malaysia participate in next year’s Golden Pin Design Award and lavish their life stories with moments like this.

谢谢金點設計獎! 我们会做的更好! (Thanks to Golden Pin Design Award! We will do better!)
谢谢金點設計獎! 我们会做的更好!

Thanks to Golden Pin Design Award!

The team at CUTOUT Magazine and TSUBAKI Studio are thankful for the recognition you’ve given us and we will do better! 😉

A phone call that got me thinking about the triviality of graphic design

Like the image of a light bulb over my head, there came a question from a brief chat with a professor today. We were talking like old friends coming together after a long time of absence in each other’s life. Greetings were exchanged. He heard about the news and congratulated me and my team. I, on the other hand, was thinking that a stage experience of this magnitude shall be felt by many more Malaysian graphic designers (or visual communicators) in their homeland Malaysia, if not overseas. I wanted him to know that.

Believe it or not, such experience can truly change a person. After all that talking, I wanted to know if there is any award out there in Malaysia that dedicates a design-driven category for visual communication. One which the eyes meet the visual, see the breadth and depth of it, change the way we look at things graphically and forget about the monetary returns that you make out of that design. Turns out to be the answer is no. Or maybe, not yet. 

This is a replica of a production set used by artists and their backup dancers when they are making a music video. I was standing there and thinking what a life it could have been for me if I had followed my childhood dream.

I want to believe what Tommy Li believes that Malaysia is still in its infancy when it comes to design, and the room for innovation is as big as space can get. If you want to do a products-based business anywhere in the world, the originality and authenticity of a product is always favourable. Whether it is marketable is a puzzle worth your time spending on and piecing it together.

Back in Malaysia, the next best thing we can possibly hope for is obtaining a Good Design Mark. The Good Design Mark is neither an award or competition but rather a respectable recognition given by Malaysia Design Council to manufacturers and makers of furniture, interior design, industrial design and products with an aim that the Good Design Mark can help boost commercial marketability and profitable opportunities.

I certainly think that visual communication and graphic design is part of the game plan. Well, they just don’t get the same airtime, so to speak. I’ve said this before and let me reiterate that graphic design is not art. Graphic design is a way of communication through graphics, where part of its role is to break down hard facts and information into digestible formats, which can be called as infographics, illustrations, typography, wayfinding and others.

Where do graphic designers stand in the hierarchy of design? How is one being perceived in society? A tough job with undesirable working hours – is that what it’s all about being a graphic designer? Questions, questions, and more questions.

A sleek idea to show people the way. Can you tell? The Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store in Taipei is located within the vicinity of the Songshan Cultural & Creative Park.

Of course, I want to think that they are problem solvers and culture integrators. I know of those who integrate graphic design in their work and they are called visual communicators (because their aim is to design well to communicate well); and those who can operate a computer to create mind-blowing graphics are called graphic designers or crafters (because they spend plenty of time crafting their skills / brushing up on their talents until they forget the basic human communication). Regardless, like manufacturers and makers of furniture et al, any kind of designers – as long as they design for a living – are thinkers (and emotional beings, too) and should be recognised for their work – whether it be in the form of an award, a promotion or a bonus.

Although some may think that graphic design is but a fleeting moment – either setting trends or following them, whose works are usually produced from emotions of the heart – the word permanence cannot be applied to design, tangible or intangible. To say that design will be recognised and awarded for its permanence or durability is like hiding truths and telling one side of a fairytale when there are more sides to it. Design is not antique. It’s not destructive. It builds things such as concepts, art directions and styles. It changes according to time and experiences.

Forget about permanence and learn to appreciate graphic design even for a fleeting moment.

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.