Putting Pen To Paper: Joan Chang

The Chronicle Notebook Series is an ode to special places that hold special memories, places that keep our stories, those told and those untold. A place is bound to change with time, as we do, but every story it witnesses remains — each memory becoming a part of its history, a part of its evolution, a part of its future.

With the launch of this unique collection, whose cover designs are inspired by four of Singapore’s iconic historical sites — Clifford Pier, Fort Canning, Emerald Hill and Kent Ridge — we invited four individuals — an entrepreneur, a writer, a creative director and an artist to join our "Chronicle: Places and Traces" campaign to share cherished memories held in these spaces. They also talk about their love of paper, and how putting pen to paper has become an important part of their day and work, a ritual by which they process thoughts, feelings, creative ideas, make dreams happen and as a means of self-care.

Joan Chang
@joan._Founder of The Ove Collection & Co-founder of Lloyd's Inn

Emerald Hill
Former nutmeg orchard; The Peranakan Architecture, a the celebration of traditions

Please introduce yourself. What’s your occupation? Can you walk us through your daily work routine?
My work is in real-estate development and hospitality. No two days are the same for me — one day I’m conducting a site visit, the next day I’m churning numbers at the office. Some days are hectic, some days are slower. I stick to regular schedules, which typically means 9am to 6pm for work, 6pm to 7pm for exercise or a run. A few times a week, I set aside time to pen down reflections or mull over something new I’ve learned. Personal time is very important to me as too many social interactions drain me, so I actively set aside time for it.

What significance does paper play in your daily life? How much do you put pen/pencil to paper, and for what purpose usually?
I put pen to paper almost every day. Work-wise, I draw charts which helps me to structure my thoughts — it’s easier than drawing it out on the computer. I also pen down my thoughts and reflections — what I learned each week, and what to actively work on the next week. Something like journalling, only in point form.

How has it helped with your creativity, organisation, or thoughts? 
Putting pen to paper and physically drawing out flowcharts/linkages definitely helps me to segment and organise my thoughts better, and translate these thoughts into execution. Ultimately, without execution, creative dreams remain as just thoughts.

Share with us your thoughts and feelings on the Chronicle Notebook Series.
The collection is an innovative spin to explore these various historical landmarks in the form of a usable product. It is also relevant in today's conversations about diversity and understanding the history of different cultural heritages. 

Do you have any fond memories of the featured locations?
Emerald Hill is particularly meaningful for me because I spent almost 25 years of my life growing up in the vicinity. My mother went to the former Singapore Chinese Girls’ School at Emerald Hill, and there have been many stories exchanged about what life was like then.

I used to take walks around the shophouses there quite frequently to discover new shops and bars that have popped up over the years. What's also interesting is that the shophouses remain preserved, but the building landscape surrounding the neighbourhood evolved over time to a modern facade. Today, right next door you have the Design Orchard building, which stands in quite a contrast to the Peranakan shophouses.

Read more from Dennis Cheok, Kah Mun Chan and Karman Tse.

We would like to thank Dennis, Joan, Kah Mun and Karman for joining us in this Chronicle: Places And Traces campaign to share the significance of putting pen to paper, and their memories of Singapore’s historical landmarks. #byndartisan #PlacesAndTraces