We are hiring! – fashion and design bloggers

Are you obsessed with all things design:  Fashion, Lifestyle, Interior, Architecture?

Love blogging, reading blogs and keeping up with the latest design trends? If so, we are looking for you.  We’re looking for designers to create our content and grow our blog.

You’ll have to be up-to-date on the latest trends, have a keen editorial sense as well as be highly web literate and self-motivated. You’ll not only have to have a vision for what makes a great blog but also play an instrumental role in growing a community around design contents.

Continue reading “We are hiring! – fashion and design bloggers”

Why blog is a great networking tool

People ask me all the time why I created this blog.

Once they are done with the why question, the next popular question is how to come up with what to write about, and then it follows with how I can possibly have time to write weekly.

All valid questions…I myself ponder on years ago before the blogging adventure started; they were wondering if I had some grand vision for this huge project such as how this blog was going to transform me into a super blogger who was going to get fame and fortune.

Although, I was definitely open(?) to the super blogger status, I was also realistic. With less than stellar writing skills combined with trying to build my architecture business at the same time, I knew achieving the superstar blogger status was unlikely.

Now, going back to the why question.

“Why did I start the blogging adventure knowing that it was going to be long and a difficult process?”

The answer – I had time, quite a bit of time…

While building my architecture practice, there were many “down” moments; getting rejections from various project proposals, clients deciding not to actually build the project I spent months designing, not getting a response to marketing emails I sent out….endless down moments.

In the flurry of activities with no results, I decided that I was going to create something that was not going to be rejected: my own blog!

 

How the blog started

I am one of those people who need to have clear direction and outcomes when it comes to  projects, goals, tasks anything I was going to spend time on. I need to know why am doing certain things and how I was going to do it and even when it’s going to be completed.

It sounds like a positive trait…until it isn’t.

I drive myself and also the people around me crazy throughout the process. Therefore starting something, especially a project that is going to take time, but with unknown outcomes was not an easy decision to make.

However, I decided to push through the unknowns.

tips_coverThe easiest decision I made at that time was that I knew what the topic of my blog was going to be: DESIGN. Having definite opinions about all things design whether they are architectureinteriorfashion comes easy for me…Don’t get me started on the sculptural quality of certain leather thigh-high boots and how we all need to have one! I can spend hours.

With well-defined (?) blog ideas, I was ready. Ready to conquer the blogosphere! (is this a word?)

After the decision, my type-A personality kicked in as I had done in the face of tackling a project. I wrote down all the todo lists for starting the blog. After spending a day researching technical requirements like the domain name, hosting, etc, I was finally ready. Ready to share my amazing design stories with gazillion readers!

 

Unexpected benefits of connecting with like minded people

Initially, I planned to write one piece per week.

I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult… It was not like I was writing an essay for professors. I will just spend some time thinking about the ideas, write an outline for the piece, and then start talking to my iPad. How hard could it be?

Oh, how wrong I was.

Not only writing blocks which I expected, but I also had design blocks as well.

2012-02-04-during critSuddenly, I became a person who had no ideas, opinions…I was kept going back-and-forth about what I “should” write about. I was questioning everything…myself, writing topics, style/tone of writing etc. I was afraid to enter the “publish” button to post the blog.

While I was struggling to write one piece per week, I came across an article about a famous author and how he dealt with his writing difficulties.

He states that his writings “become” clear while he writes rather than in the beginning. 

He did not have all the ideas in the beginning, but with some ideas, he starts typing away. To get clear about the writing topics, he said, “just start writing” and wait for those unclear ideas taking a certain shape.

He also stated that his “true” writings happen at the editing process, not in the first draft.

I decided to try his method: bad first draft and better drafts afterward. I approached the writing as if I was having a phone conversation with one of my close friends.  Instead of thinking about the structures, vocabularies, styles, tones etc, I started talking into my iPad pretending it was a friend who I had not seen years.

 

Helping with connecting with local designers, architects 

While experiencing the “easier” writing process, I noticed something else on the blog: stats. The blog had the information on the readers; who was reading the post, how many, from which countries, what time of the day…helpful information for struggling writer.

That was how I found my regular reader from Brazil!

I was floored. The reader’s comment about how she appreciated my writing style- funny, honest and yet informative-made the day! I felt like she was a friend who understood what I was trying to do.

With that encouraging comment, I decided on my target audience for the blog:

design enthusiasts who appreciate things in life with a keen sense of design with funny and straightforward communication style.

d2683-pale-pink-moodboardFrom that fateful day of my first follower, I slowly started getting more readers, followers, likes, etc including the local ones. I was approached by several designers in Toronto who wanted to submit their own design stories to the blog.

With more readers coming to the blog each day, it also created more physical connections to designers who wanted to connect outside of the digital community. Meeting these designers in person, and learning about their stories was an unexpected benefit I never thought of when I started my blog adventure.

From these get-togethers, I came up with even more blog ideas.

 

My blog is helping me with my business

I did not see this coming…. when I started my blog adventure years ago.

Remember why I started the blog…..time on my hand. (code word for slow or no business). I started because I had time, and also wanted to improve writing skill, and possibly make tons of money through being the superstar blogger:)

Although the super blogger stardom illusion doesn’t seem within my reach, there were many unexpected/happy surprises along the way.

Beginning of this year, I was contacted by one of my LinkedIn contacts who was a structural Engineer looking to find the architect for his client. He wrote to me through a LinkedIn message that he read the blog piece I wrote and wanted to talk to me about a project!

Logo_Final

It was like the moment the Brazilian leader who made the first comment on my blog! Except that it was 10 times better. Ok, 100 times better!

Not only for the potential project possibility but the perfect stranger who wanted to recommend me to his client because of my writing piece! I was ecstatic,

The project is on hold at the moment due to the client’s financing options… From this experience, I learned to appreciate the biggest WHY of the blog. It was the best networking tool connecting like-minded people, whether digitally or even through physical meetings.

Since that fateful connection back in January this year, more and more people contacted me through social media platforms due to my blog. There are even non-designers who appreciate the writing style/ information as well as many people who want to sell things to me.



Final words

These days I “try” not to ask the why questions too much…. especially, when it comes to long term / unclear but interesting projects. I am realizing that you cannot have all the answers before you start something…

Sometimes you just need to drive-through the unknowns.

I learned that there might be a much bigger prize at the end of the long tunnel even with unclear, fuzzy efforts if you have the energy to push through to see it.

What has been the big adventure you tried without having all the plans, strategies, contingencies etc.? Do you agree with my assessment?





Why design is not valued, but the execution is

“I have already selected a very good and reputable contractor for building my new house, I JUST need to have someone to design my house “

WHAT!!! 

It is a recent phone conversation I had with a potential(?) client who is looking for an architect to design his custom house. He got my contact information from a person we both knew. While I was mentally making a note to call my contact to give my piece of mind, I took a deep breath and decided to hear him out. Continue reading “Why design is not valued, but the execution is”

Can’t decide on your future career? This is what I did.

Do you know how high school students deciding on their future goals, plans or even more immediate plan such as university major?   It can be a stressful, scary and also the most exciting time for their lives.  Meet Nicole Cao who went through those those feelings,  and how her trip to Germany solidified  the decision to study Architecture.  Here is her story…

I remember the exact moment where I made the decision only because it was so spontaneous.  For someone who takes a decade to decide what kind of cheese to get on their sub, this was particularly strange.

There wasn’t a hint of doubt or hesitation when I decided to do a foreign exchange year.All I knew was that I wanted to get away.

“What do you want to do when you’re older?”

It was the beginning of grade 11, my classmates were busily discussing their post-secondary aspirations: business, engineering, medicine, etcetera.

“What do you want to do when you’re older?”   I had been running from the dreaded question my entire life, and my time was starting to run out. It seemed the more research I did on possible careers and undergraduate programs, the more lost I became.

As someone who’s into math and art, architecture seemed like an obvious choice, but I still couldn’t make up my mind. I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for using fancy protractors, drawing straight lines, and making detailed technical blueprints.

My artwork always featured things that were alive (animals, portraits, plants) with emotional qualities.

” how could I devote my life to sketching out inanimate buildings?”

I needed more time to explore and think before I could make a confident decision. At the time, I couldn’t imagine how much a year could change my perception.  Fast forward eight months and a pile of paperwork later, I’m picking up my luggage at the Frankfurt International Airport.

My first host family is just beyond the gate, holding a big welcome banner with my name on it. We greet each other, and they start speaking to me in very fast German.

“It only took a few seconds for me to realize that Rosetta Stone and Duolingo had failed me miserably…”

 

1. The realization hit me hard; I have no clue!

And so the adventure begins.

A new country, a new language, a new culture. A fresh start. The unfamiliar environment excited me.  Learning became a part of everyday life. Whether they are:

  • new German vocabulary,
  • taking the trains in new city
  • how to make rhubarb jam,

As the months passed, I slowly developed a “sense” for the language in a variety of ways: conversations with strangers, listening to music, and reading graffiti.

I became independent of English during the third month and my confidence increased along with my German proficiency.

“Hiding in my reserved introvert shell just wasn’t an option.”

Throughout my year, I was constantly aware that my time was limited. Hiding in my reserved introvert shell just wasn’t an option. I learned to become more assertive and proactive. I joined the rowing team, did horseback riding lessons and even danced in the school talent show.

Like a fairytale!

I pushed my capabilities and learned many things about myself, including the fact that I’m definitely no prima ballerina. Despite the range of available activities, my favourite pastime was simply exploring every nook and cranny of the country.

 

2. My architecture education starts in Germany…

Luckily for me, my first host family was full of avid travellers.

They were eager to share with me the many wonderful landscapes of Germany. I adored the traditional half-timbered houses that crowded the streets of each city’s “altstadt” (German for “old city”).

The variety of patterns and colours made them unbelievably charming. I felt as if I had stepped into one of my favourite fairytales or Disney movies.

Germany is famous for this type of architecture. These houses, built in the middle ages, have stood through war and survived modernization. Strolling along the quaint cobblestoned streets I caught an intimate glimpse into another time period. Each house was a physical testament to centuries of history and, they were very much real.

Who was the first inhabitant of this 400 year old house? What did they do all day? How did they think? What did they believe? Did someone in the 1400s park their horse where that BMW is now?

Germany captivated my imagination. Many German cities are associated with classic childhood bedtime stories. The story of the pied piper who lures rats and children with the music of a magic pipe is set in the real town of Hameln.

Neuschwanstein

The city centre and dedicated museum are decorated with statues of rats and pipers in tribute to this story. The tale of the four animal musicians takes place in Bremen, and this classic Brothers Grimm fairytale is celebrated in souvenir shops and artwork all around the city.

It’s interesting that folklore and tangible locations can be connected in a way that makes you wonder if magic and mysterious phenomena really did exist. It was all part of the charming character of Germany that amazed me.

Along with the well-preserved historic buildings, today’s Germany has made huge advances in architecture. Modern buildings like the Elbphilharmonie stand in stark contrast to the medieval villages and castles.

Germany’s physical environment seemed to embody its cultural development and progression. How did these changes occur? I began to wonder how people, culture, time period and environment affected each other. I began to see how a space is very much a reflection of its inhabitants, past and present.

These initial questions soon lead me to discover the power and emotional impact of architecture.

Continue reading “Can’t decide on your future career? This is what I did.”

Talking Minimal

Design is a key factor that orients how our daily life functions and constantly influences us. As designers, we consider elements such as forms, materials, colours, decorations and more, just to make our life more interesting and efficient, and blah-blah-blah. Sometimes, talking minimal is just enough.

Continue reading “Talking Minimal”

The Psychology Of A Designers’ Workspace

Hello readers! My name is Crystal Yung and I am a new contributor to the OnahJung blog and marketing assistant for Studio Jonah. I am an architecture student studying at the University of Waterloo. The feature image (at the top) is our first year studio. (Photograph is taken by my classmate, Lisa Huang).

I graduate next year so I’ve been exploring the design industry. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to gather experience in varying work spaces through my co-op education.

Continue reading “The Psychology Of A Designers’ Workspace”

Want to excel at university education, make sure to do this ONE thing! (PART 1)

Each year around September, I get emails from my undergraduate education, Cornell University that there is a number of highly qualified Canadian high school students who want to apply for architecture education. I would interview the students and write evaluation/ recommendation as part of the admission process. One can predict that such experience would be a rewarding one, however in my case, these chance meetings turned out to be more than “rewarding”….it was a chance for ME to get educated!  I met such a student, Xinyun( aka Angelina) Huang this year. This is her story of how she got prepared for her education.

I signed up for the Japanese exchange without much hesitation. People said it was a great trip– the food was cool (melon pocky, colorless milk tea, etc.), students were really really nice, and there were so many cool experiences such as making washi papers and drawing on Japanese Lacquer that is culturally unique. When I declare my interest in architecture on my request form though, I never really expect to be hosted by a family with two architecture major parents. They got super excited and want to show me Japan’s architectural side.

In the beginning, I was bored…

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Ever since I was interested in architecture, I start researching for some architectural exhibitions wherever I go. There are many good exhibitions in Shanghai, where I spend my holidays. However, most of them are kind of boring. I was drowning in walls of descriptions with jargons and I have no idea what I am supposed to know and where I am supposed to look. When I thought every exhibition would be so hard to interpret, my mind is completely changed after visiting Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (where we went).

So we drove an hour and went to this park that is so far away from Tokyo (where the school is), and we walked into a normal park. Kids were running around, there are little tents scattered around grassland. When I get a little bit confused, I saw a huge ancient Japanese architecture standing right in front of me. I wish somebody could record my time for the sprint because it is probably my personal best.

The museum is like an architectural Disneyland!

It is huge, and from my host family, I know that those are the prototyped architectures removed from their original place because of city planning. For the first time, I am allowed to go into the actual buildings to experience what it feels like to live in that place, and what do people do in those buildings.

The collection of the buildings is really diverse in the sense that it collected all the kinds of buildings that were significant historically wise throughout different eras. There are tiny shops such as “Kodera” Soy Sauce Shop, which is built in 1933 and then moved to the park in 1993; there is a huge public bathhouse; there are private houses such as the house of Korekiyo Takahashi, or a farmhouse of a family. There are brochures in English for tourists to take so I would know the historical significance and also the purpose of its design very well. For example, this “Kodera” Soy Sauce Shop is originally built by its owner, and the park kept its appearance in the perfect shape, even including the living space for the owner’s family! There are many empty sake bottles on the shelves as well, which makes it look so realistic and lively. From my host family’s memory, they could picture it in its original location, and how they go to the shops and buy soy sauce.

 

Where is the entrance?

Another interesting building is the Tea Arbor “Kaisuian.” The total floor area is only around 17 m2, and at first, I could not even find the entrance. My host mom pointed at a little door, and said, “that is the entrance.” It only came up to my waist, and I wonder if any adult with their traditional cloth could get in. It was said that since tea ceremonies are sacred and pristine, the little door prevents people bring in their swords and start a fight in the room. The ceiling is also really low, which force you to sit down.

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Aside from those ancient-looking buildings, there are also many modern buildings around the park. For example, the House of Kunio Mayekawa is really modernly designed, even though it is actually built in 1042. From my host family, I learned that Kunio Mayekawa is a really famous architect who has worked with Le Corbusier for two years. This personal residence has a big living room, and the design makes the air flow freely through the house. There are also many unique designs with the furniture. Even though the law restricted the floor space, the house seems very big because of the compact design and floor plans, such as the high ceiling for the living room and the low ceiling for other rooms. My host mom also pointed out that the wall from the entrance is made of volcanic rock, which is purely decorative and a tribute to the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

As you can see so far, my architecture education has already begun! without even stepping a foot in the university buildings!  Stay tuned for the next post to hear what I realized at the end of trip. Would love to hear your experience!

Manchester – Differences from Toronto in Fashion & Lifestyle

I had the liberty of studying abroad in Manchester, England with my best friend (who is still thankfully my best friend after living together). Observing, not in a creepy way of course, Manchester’s street style and how people lived was a huge part of my experience. Fashion is not just about what people wear, but also how they live- how they shape themselves to interact with the world around them. It is interdisciplinary. The combination of all these differences is what makes Manchester seem like another universe.

Continue reading “Manchester – Differences from Toronto in Fashion & Lifestyle”

The Essential Library Of An Architecture Student

Gone are the days where picture books were fun. These days, being preoccupied with picture books make me cringe more than a book filled with non-stop text. Why? Studying architecture means learning visually is imperative, but sometimes lines on top of lines assembled to create a window section detail leaves me stunned and overwhelmed- a 0.05 dashed line to resemble a vapour barrier? Bring me back the essays!

It’s also no surprise to hear university students complain about their books they buy with the money they don’t have and the time they don’t use to read said books (pretty much paperweights at this point). It’s hard to quantify textbooks’ worth, when, as a student, it may not always be a priority. In the end, what do we learn from these books that we don’t learn in class or at work, or from others?

Continue reading “The Essential Library Of An Architecture Student”

The Birds And The Bees (No, Not That!) And The Design Of The Natural Landscape

Spring (dramatic pause) is almost here. There’s even a spring in my step as the temperatures rise this week. Even though the official first day of spring isn’t until a month from now, the sun has definitely started coming up early and setting late. People seem just a tad more cheerful, and outdoor events seem a lot more popular. Some things are better done in bright sunlight, pretty flowers, and great company, right?

Continue reading “The Birds And The Bees (No, Not That!) And The Design Of The Natural Landscape”