May’s Top 13: Creatives of Asian Heritage
It’s Asian Heritage month in America and we could not be more excited to have the opportunity to dish on all our favorite creatives with Asian roots. It’s no surprise that, this month, we had well more than our typical 13, with a few “bonus” options for you. It’s just so hard to pick only a few. I think you can fully expect us to try this again with a more specific craft like…favorite Asian Chefs / Musicians / Graphic Artists / Architects / Stylists / Interior Designers and so on.
But for now, check out these impressive creatives whose compelling contributions help to make all our worlds a brighter, much more gorgeous place to live!
Dava’s Picks: Founder and Chief Creative Officer
- NOZ NOZAWA is one of our favorite interior designers, with a flare for eclectic patterns and energetic color combos, their designs are eye grabbing in all the best ways. Plus, Noz just designed the brand new Fillmore District store for our friends at Fiat Lux! If you’re in the bay, go see some gorgeous design in action (and grab yourself something shiny too, we won’t tell).
- The playful interactions of graphics and typography in the projects from design-duo, Lee Yunho and Kim Kangin, are deeply curious and compelling. Their shop at DDBBMM in South Korea is absolutely on our bucket list.
Andre’s Picks: Associate Creative Director
- One of the best shows I’ve binge watched in the past year is Warrior (trailer here) on HBO Max. It is based on an original concept and treatment by Bruce Lee, and is executive-produced by his daughter, Shannon Lee, and film director Justin Lin. Set in 1870’s San Francisco during the Tong Wars, it focuses on the Chinese Immigration and discrimination amongst the Irish community who sees their jobs taken from the cheaper labor. A racially diverse action packed martial arts Western that pays homage to Lee’s original vision.
- The New York based artist and designer Sho Shibuya gradients creations brings me nothing but visual delight. During covid lockdown he started to depict the morning sunrise as painted gradients on the cover of the New York Times. It became part of his daily ritual, “I wake up at 5am and read the news. I get to go to a deli at dawn to pick up a physical newspaper, which is when I take a photo of the sky.” And to me, during that time as I would see the beautiful paintings come across my little window from across the country.
- Ashley Ng is a San Francisco based designer whose graduate thesis “Po Po Says” helps educate young children about Asian American history through storytelling, illustration and design. Po Po (maternal grandma in Cantonese) shares 8 different events in Asian American history. Teaching her that just like many people throughout history, the United States of America would not be what is today without the accomplishments of Asian Americans.
Jane’s Picks: Sr. Strategist, Writer and Project Manager
- Ok so, Horiyoshi III is nothing short of a tattooing legend! Widely considered the master of traditional Japanese tattooing, he is still creating incredible full-body works to this day. His infamous, historical tattoos have helped begin to dispel the negative stigmas and educate his fellow citizens about the respect latent in every work of art he creates. Americans would not have the great love of the traditional irezumi style of work, had it not been for Horiyoshi III (aka Yoshihito Nakano).
- You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll definitely cringe (and then laugh some more); the comedic stylings of the incredible Ali Wong are impressive in many mediums. She’s not just a famous stand-up comic, she’s also a prolific writer, and highly talented actor! Her Netflix movie, Always Be My Maybe, is the sweetest, most fun romantic-comedy for anyone who lived their teen years in the 90’s. Say it with us now “Hellooooo Keanuuuuu!” Some of us (we won’t name names) may have seen it more than a few times since it launched in 2019.
Brenna’s Picks: Creative Project Manager
- Signs by Meng Nguyen definitely have us swooning over those crisp lines, bright contrast and specific look and feel that only hand-painted business signs can achieve. This great historical craft has such a special place in our big branding hearts, and Meng gives it a flair that you can feel in every brush stroke (of genius).
Elaine’s Picks: Designer
- The book Chinatown Pretty will put a smile on your face. Produced by the talented photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu, this delightful book celebrates the ingenuity, flair, and beauty of San Francisco Chinatown and its longtime residents.
- Check out the works of Taiwan-based design studio O.OO. They craft exquisite, experimental designs with a Risograph, embracing the imperfections and difficulties generally associated with the process.
Meb’s Picks: Designer
- We love Grace Duong’s tarot deck, Mystic Mondays! Its neon gradients and interpretive vector illustrations are fresh and inspiring. There’s a Mystic Mondays app as well, and lots of other goodies at the website.
- Hieu Tran is a San Francisco-based designer who posts an ongoing series of typographic posters right to Instagram!! We love the variety of styles he explores. Check out the whole series!
Suzanne’s Picks: Operations Leader
- Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and creates infinity installations, but is also active in painting, film, fashion and poetry. Her work is based in conceptual art and shows attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism and abstract expressionism. At 92-years-old she has been acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan.
Xiaoxiao’s Picks: Junior Designer
- Zoey (Xinyi) Gong is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) nutritionist, chef, consultant, visual artist, and the founder of Five Seasons TCM, a BIPOC-founded boutique wellness brand. With an eye for beauty and cultural heritage, she has poured her passion and TCM knowledge into the entity to share her understanding and perspective of TCM foods and nutrition through educational content, functional products, and its avant-garde aesthetic.
Zili’s Picks: Junior Designer
- Yohji Yamamoto is one of fashion’s most pioneering and idiosyncratic thinkers, often finding lyrical parallels between clothing and the curiosity of the human condition. His unstructured, “anti-fit” silhouettes with their asymmetric lines, distressed finishes and raw seams create a masterful sense of dishevelment. His work often turns to ancient Japanese draping and European tailoring techniques for inspiration.
- Zhang Jingna, born in Beijing and raised in Singapore, is a fashion and fine art photographer and director based in NYC and Seattle. Imbued with love for the Pre-Raphaelites and Japanese anime, Jingna’s work interweaves Asian aesthetics with western art styles, bringing unique visions of painterly and fantastical images to fashion and fine art photography.