Remembering the old phone call I had with a stranger in the age of COVID-19

In the age of COVID-19, ALL of us are going through unfamiliar and stressful times…whether the lining up to get into the grocery store, trying to avoid a person while pretending that we are not, getting a doctor’s appointment through a video call (ok that was a positive one)…etc. There have been many weird and unfamiliar things/acts we had to learn and get used to.

Besides learning the new social manners(?), I am also observing the new occurrences around me: virtually empty streets, closed stores, restaurants with take-out only option. It is my recent experience of the restaurants’ take out only option made me think about the time I received the phone call years ago. I remember the story of one distressed restaurant owner who called.

Of course, both of us could not have known what we would go through years later, however, his problem at the time was HUGE for him. Although he wasn’t going through anything like nowsocial distancing, closure of non-essential services, etc-what he faced was an insurmountable problem for him at the time… and he wanted to talk to me.

This was how the conversation went.

Continue reading “Remembering the old phone call I had with a stranger in the age of COVID-19”

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!


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?

10 Interior Design Tips for a Stunning Home Office on a shoestring budget

Written by guest contributor, Tess Cain.   

One of the many benefits of working from home is that you can have your own home office. 

Despite popular belief, working remotely is not a synonym for lying around all day, but it is certainly less stressful. There’s not as much pressure and you work at your own pace.

It also means that you get to organize your home office by yourself and however you wish. It’s your home office, your rules.

Nevertheless, there are some practical interior design tips that can help you make your home office stunning and welcoming.

1.  Plan out

Ask any interior designer, and they will all tell you that you should make a good plan of action before you start redecorating. 

Now ask yourself: How do I envision my perfect working space? What do I want?

Updated DrawingSurely, you have thousands of ideas piling up already. Why don’t you put it into words and pictures? Do online research and find some home office inspirations.

You can even create a mood board using the Pinterest app that will guide you. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask your friends and family how they picture your office. You can brainstorm for some ideas together and then design a theme accordingly.

remember: ‘’by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’’

2.  Storage

Good storage is a necessity if you want to have a practical and functional office. Not only will you have a safe place for all your work documents, but it will also allow you to have a well-designed home office. There will be no piles of papers getting in your way all-day.

If you are worried that your office is not big enough for file cabinets, I would suggest opting for vertical storage units because they will make the space look bigger. 

3.  Good lighting

image 1.jpg

Having good lighting can make a big difference to an interior, so place your desk next to a window and take advantage of the natural light as much as possible. 

Imagine yourself at work with a nice window view and sun rays on your desk. That’s the dream!

I would suggest installing good lighting systems that won’t kill your productivity even when the sun goes down.


4.  Add plants

image 2

Plants are another way to brighten up the room and to bring some positivity into it. They have healing and relaxing powers, so you should add ‘plants’ to your mood board right from the start.

Green is a color that goes well with everything; another reason why plants will never go out of style.

Health, productivity, and well-being are essential ingredients for every stunning home office – plants will provide you with all of those.


5.  Wall colors

The home office is not your typical room, so while you are deciding on the color scheme for it, you should consider taking a slightly different approach than with your other rooms. 

You want your office to feel warm and cozy, but still not too much because you don’t want to be tempted to nap all day. 

Green and blue are usually used for painting resting areas, while red and yellow go well with conference rooms where you want ideas to come to life.

According to interior designers all over the world, the best color scheme solution for offices is a mix of natural colors and wooden elements. If you want a peaceful ambient in your office, this is the combination for you. 

6.  Colorful rug

Your home office will become very chic if you put a colorful and creative carpet in the center. It can serve as a great starting point for matching the entire room with it and connecting the pieces together.

Before you choose your furniture or your decorations, explore the carpet options first. As soon as you find that perfect rug, the rest of the room will speak to you.


7.  Mirrors to make the office look bigger

Mirrors are a great interior design tool, especially for small offices. They can help you take full advantage of the natural light and at the same time, make the room look bigger.

Consider placing mirrors across a window so that the natural light can fill up the room. 


8.  Organization is key

Every interior designer will tell you that the organization is key. Apart from being creative, you need to be practical or else your office will become a mess.

Choose furniture that will not only be stylish but also functional. A high-quality desk and chair are a must, so choose wisely. After all, that’s where you’ll work all day.

Keep your desk well-organized and clutter-free. Office tools such as binders can help you with that. Essentially, cleaning every day after yourself comes a long way. 

Your messy cords can be arranged using special cable kits or even better, hidden behind your furniture. The less visible the cables are, the better!


9.  Resting, meeting area

Meeting areas might be essential if your business requires you to meet with clients and team members. However, even if that’s not the case, you should still try and make a special resting area for yourself. 

Your home office should not only be welcoming for others, but for you too, so save some room for a small sofa and some cushions. Trust me, you will feel and work better in a space like this.


10.  Add inspiring elements


small-room-lighting-6The finishing touches are what will make your office stand out from the crowd. It shouldn’t look like every other office, but it should be a mix of you and your lifestyle.

Choose your accessories depending on your life aspirations. You have a favorite inspirational quote? Frame it and put it in a visible area so that you get a boost of energy every time you see it. There’s a piece of art that inspires you? Get a framed replication and enrich your home office with it. 

Final thoughts

The first question you should ask yourself when you enter your freshly done home office is: 

Is this me? Does my home office represent me?

Feel free to ask your friends the same question. If both you and your friends think your office is you, then you did a good job.

If your home office makes you feel like you are not even working, then your business and life will blossom. 

And isn’t that the point?


If you have great design stories  to share with the  readers, please check out the WRITE FOR US section and let us know!

Why you need to have Hat Attitude!

Design is Design!

I have always believed in the sentiment above…. Well, more correctly design processes work the same in all design fields;  start from the ideas, and then those get translated into visual images of sketches, physical models, etc. and then finally seeing the physical outcome of your idea.  They work the same in whether designing a building, dress, or a hat!

I have also enjoyed meeting various designers, and learned about how their thinking process started and eventually arriving at the final product. I met such a designer, Amparo Findlay (, and poked her thoughts on all things related to hat design, hat attitude, hatitude.  Here is Amparo’s story on building the hat empire….   Continue reading “Why you need to have Hat Attitude!”

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.

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Want to excel at university education, make sure to do this ONE thing! (PART 2)

Going to university…it is a huge milestone time for all of us: leaving the comfort of your home, meeting tons of strangers, and mostly preparing for another turning point in one’s life, adulthood. It can be both scary and exciting at the same time. Is it even possible to “prepare” for such a change? One high school student decides to tackle this intimidating aspect by packing early… way early. Xinyun( aka Angelina) decided to travel to learn about her chosen career choice, architecture in Japan before starting her university education.

It is her personal observation of the cities, culture, people, and even ice cream shops in Japan, and how they all intermingled to create a distinctive Japanese style with particular attention on building designs.  Read this continuing story and comment and ask questions.  Xinyun is more than happy to share her experience with you.

Continue reading “Want to excel at university education, make sure to do this ONE thing! (PART 2)”

Proof that My Fair Lady styles are relevant as ever

This week’s post is another tribute to the past since I am such a fashion history junkie.

If you have not seen the 1964 Film of My Fair Lady, featuring Audrey Hepburn, you’re seriously missing out. In the Edwardian London, Professor Higgins (a rich, but tactless phonetics expert), makes a bet that he can turn Eliza Doolittle (a young woman selling flowers with a strong Cockney accent) into a proper English speaking lady. The two get to work on Eliza being able to pass off as a duchess at the Embassy Ball. It’s witty, comedic, and it will tug your heartstrings. And not to mention the costumes! Oh god, the flamboyant, stunning, ornate costumes!! I can’t event begin to describe them! *ahem* Anyways, here are some modern day fashion trends that I find reminiscent of My Fair Lady. 

Continue reading “Proof that My Fair Lady styles are relevant as ever”

Can You Bee-Live It’s Spring? How to Spring Clean & Decorate

Despite the cloudy rainy weather of Spring, I can’t help but whistle along with chirping birds and the late sunsets. We definitely do have a lot to miss about Winter, but we know it’ll be back sooner than we expect! Spring cleaning is a long standing tradition. Did you know March is the best time for cleaning? Historically, it was because the weather was warm enough to open windows and doors, but not warm enough for insects to be an issue. Then, the wind would carry the dust out of the home. It’s absolutely one of my most favourite traditions, not only because I get to clean out everything but also because it means I get to decorate! 

Continue reading “Can You Bee-Live It’s Spring? How to Spring Clean & Decorate”

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”