Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Architect, designer, and founder of Crème
Hometown: Brooklyn by way of Japan.
Studio location: Brooklyn.
Describe what you make: We make things by taking big ideas and breathing life into them. More specifically, we create (in collaboration with our clients and builders) objects, furniture, identities, and spaces that are more than just physical things. We challenge their potential and give them care and thoughtfulness. We give them a soul.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: It’s very hard to pick one, but recently we participated in a community outreach mentorship program over the summer with St. Nicks Alliance as a part of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s Summer Youth and Workplace Challenge. It was a very rewarding experience for our team and we hope to continue to invest in our youth and community while supporting and promoting diversity in design.
We also completed our first full hotel interiors project as a firm with the Hyatt Centric Center City in Philadelphia, which felt like a big milestone. Some of our more conceptual projects, like the Timber Bridge at Longpoint Corridor and The Gourd Project (a self-initiated exploration to develop a sustainable product to help combat plastic waste) challenge me in a different way and are also important to my own goals around sustainability and community involvement.
Describe the problem your work solves: A huge part of our work is actually centered on identifying the problem, before we can work to solve it. In some of our most successful projects, we were given a pretty straightforward goal to start, but saw opportunities to solve problems that were technically outside of our scope. Once we had the freedom to identify larger obstacles that the client didn’t realize existed, the whole project came to life in a much more elevated and exciting way. We don’t just look at the piece that’s handed to us. We look around to see how the work we’re doing can breathe life into the bigger picture.
Describe the project you are working on now: We have a lot of projects in the works that we’re really excited about, including a new restaurant location in Tokyo, and a very cool hotel F&B project in Kagoshima, Japan. We’re also working on a full hotel interiors project in Silicon Valley, a master planning project in Austin, and are happy to announce that we’re teaming up with the RedFarm team again for our fourth project together.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: We’re currently working on a ground-up residence for a couple in Hudson, New York, which will be completed by the end of the year. We’re also working to bring The Gourd Project closer to a market-ready product and will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in April to hopefully help us move into the next phase of our goal to replace plastic cups with versions made from a renewable resource.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: Something I realized after working from home during the pandemic is that I really love having plants around me when I’m working. I’ve been able to fill my home office with them and brought some plants from my garden inside. When we do eventually get back to the studio, I’d love to have more plants around to remind us of our connection with nature. I find their energy and biophilic design to be really soothing, which is something I think we can all appreciate. When we’re in the studio, I really value surface area for collaboration and can never have enough tracing paper. I’m still a big believer in hand sketching and encourage my studio members to start their process away from the computer whenever possible.
What you do when you’re not working: There isn’t always a clear line for me in terms of working or not working—I can’t really imagine myself ever retiring and so much of being in design just naturally overlaps with parts of your everyday life. I really like being involved in revitalization projects within my community, gardening, and playing with my son, Luka, who’s four years old and in that “building things” stage, which is really fun. I also have a motorcycle that I use to get around the city, so I ride that almost every day.
Sources of creative envy: This was surprisingly hard to answer. A lot of things come to mind, but if I had to choose one source, I’d say Christo and Jeanne-Claude. I guess that’s two, technically. I envy the simplicity and clarity of partnership they had and greatly admired what they were able to accomplish together. I appreciate the simplicity that masks all the complexity behind it. The projects they did took years and years, and they dealt with politics, budgets, community outreach—all just to make something they thought was fascinating, which usually didn’t have any huge theory behind it. I really like their work.
The distraction you want to eliminate: The internet in general.
Concrete or marble? Concrete.
High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse.
Remember or forget? Remember.
Aliens or ghosts? Aliens.
Dark or light? Light.