I would like to report the presentation & panel discussion event “ConversAAtions: Building a Design Practice” hosted by Asian American Arts Alliance(4A) in May 29th, part of NYC×Design.

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On the far right of the photo: Dong-Ping Wong

In this discussion panel, young Asian American designers spoke to us about their journey, what they envision for the future of their disciplines and they provided practical advice to aspiring designers.

I don’t really care about my ethnicity to create my work

In the U. S., People often joke that Asian Americans parents push their children to become doctors or lawyers for higher social status and salaries. In fact, some of the panelist’s parents wanted them to be in those fields too. They were not encouraged to be designers because they considered the profession unstable. Even though the guest speakers faced unique experiences as Asian Americans, they do not think their ethnic background influenced their choice of work

Q. Moderator A4 executive director Ms. Lisa:
"Did you face any difficulties to become a designer as an Asian American?"

A.Fashion designer Ms. Angel:
I wanted to become a fashion designer since I was little. However, my parents wanted me to become a doctor like other parents. Even after I graduated from college, they said “it’s just a path, just a path”, they didn’t take it seriously. It took a while for them to become supportive of what I do now.

Q. Ms. Lisa:
“ Have you ever thought ethnicity affects your work?”

Architect Mr. Dong:
I don’t think my ethnicity has ever affected my work.

As designers, the panelists sometimes see their identity in order to get an idea though, I felt that their experience has influenced them.

A designer is also a business person

Due to the development of digital design tools and an increase in freelance jobs, people without work experience in design can become professional designers. When the moderator asked the panelists for their advice to aspiring designers, they advised that one should have the mindset like that of a working business professional.

Q. Ms. Lisa :
“Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?”

Illustrator and designer Ms. Sophia:
When I started working for myself, I took the client’s orders personally. It was hard to switch my mindset. Therefore, you may also face that situation in the future. But never take it personally, and be professional.

Designers work with teams and clients. A designer needs to become a business professional with great interpersonal skills and have a professional mindset.

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I also interviewed one of the guest speakers, Mr. Dong-Ping Wong, in his office.

He told me about his work and his motivation behind it.

Mr. Dong-Ping Wong interview

Mr. Dong-Ping Wong has his own design studio(Food New York)  in Chinatown, NY. He works with many international clients and his studio focuses on designing environments, from ground-up structures to renovations to landscapes, all with the intent of transforming how people relate to the context, culture, and resources around them. A key indicator of his style and direction is the +Pool (a floating swimming pool in the East River, between Manhattan and Brooklyn in NY). It’s an ethos which carries through to Wong’s newest company, Food.

Currently, he is energetic about working on a few local public projects and continuing international projects.

+POOL


My childhood experience in CA might affect my works unconsciously

Q. Do you think your childhood experience affects your work?

Yes, I think so. Our first project was at a shop in HongKong(HK). HK is actually a very tropical city. It’s a very concrete city obviously. People are always rushing, you may not feel like you are living in nature/natural setting. So we just wanted to play out nature vs concrete. We put a small piece of nature in front of the shop as a way to give nature back to the city. I assume that my childhood inspired this idea, I grew up in CA. I just like nature.

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Off the white HK


The way we differentiate ourselves from others is how we communicate with clients

Q. What makes you different from the others? Do you do something different since you are fairly young in this industry?

I believe how we communicate with clients sets us apart from others. With the emergence of SMS and various mediums, architects are no longer isolated, they can communicate directly with clients and end-users through these platforms. Since we work with non-architects, we use hand drawing and sketches to explain what we are trying to do so they can understand us easily.

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Increase public space that citizens can easily hang out in

Q. What do you want to do for local public spaces?

What I felt about NY at the beginning was that we don’t have enough spaces for people to hang out. At Food, we have worked on many international projects. We are now trying to do more for local public spaces, especially around our home inChinatown,NY. We have worked on two projects in Chinatown so far. I hope we can work on more of these projects in the near future.

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Project 1. Gateways to Chinatown

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Project2. Food Radio “Office Hours” @ Chinatown


Event summary

Event:ConversAAtions: Building a Design Practice
Date:2019/5/29
Place:Asian American Arts Alliance
Guest speakers:

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