Love notes to my design heroes by Myan Duong

Dearest....jpg

This Valentine's day, I stumbled upon a lovely post by IDEO, where designers and writers thanked their design heroes. It was such a sweet expression of another kind of love to celebrate on this day. I liked it so much, in fact, that I decided to write my own love notes to my heroes because they deserve some love. Some of these people are alive and can embarrassingly read these (embarrassing for me, not them) and others I've only dreamt of meeting. Regardless, I wanted to throw that love out into the universe. 


Dear Charles and Ray Eames (but mostly Ray),
You are the quintessential design heroes for anyone who attended any sort of design school. Because I'm a sap, I fell in love with the fact that you were both lovers and creative partners, a union most people could only wish for. Not only were you a beacon for my personal life goals, your childlike wonder and refusal of being pigeon-holed into one medium really made me feel like anything was possible. I struggled all throughout school, not knowing what exact thing I excelled at - always being questioned about what I wanted to do. My answer is as simple as just wanting to make things. You relentlessly inspired me to do just that. 

And Ray, you were a damn boss. In an industry that is still male dominated, you always stood out as a force to be reckoned with and I'm convinced that you propelled Charles into next level designer royalty.


Hey Cord, 
You came into my life at a really important juncture, where I could have decided to settle for a typical design education or make up the rules as I went. With your encouragement, I went with the latter and you only ever egged it on. Even to this day, in my 30's you find ways to uplift and remind me of the potential I can meet and strengths I choose to overlook. I try to tell you thank you every time you share those kind sentiments, but I'm pretty sure that'll never be enough. You continue to selflessly dedicate your life to forming the confidence in others and taking your passion to even the most apathetic students. It's a wonder how you haven't given up teaching after so many years knowing that not all of them will attribute you for their future success. I hope I keep making you proud with every weird choice I make in life. :)


Dear Dieter,
We give a lot of credit to Jony Ive for making products that give us feels, but you were the Godfather of product feels. Your design principles bleed far beyond the decisions I make when creating things - it's how I curate my life and make so many choices. You've taught me both to be thoughtful and not to over think things - which for someone like me is pretty difficult. The beauty of your work is that you make everyone feel like it's so easy, when in fact, it's the hardest task to simplify the way you do. Thank you for teaching me that "enough" isn't a dirty word. 


To All My Creative Friends,
You know who you are. You inspire me daily with your constant evolution and never giving up your creative dreams. You're honest about who you are and are just the right amount of jaded (like me). I'll always know I'm surrounded by individuals that I fully trust and can equally celebrate and complain about the fact that what we do can be both amazing and bullshit at the same time. I owe you everything. I can't wait to see the magic you continue to make. 
 

A few things to do... by Myan Duong

To Do.jpg

I'm never opposed to a good resolution each year, but after years of falling flat in month 3, I've decided for myself not to make too much of them each Jan. 1. I think going for a few small tasks suits me much better. 

These are my tasks this year:

1 ----- Fill my time with more beautiful things. Good movies/exhibits/books/talks/people. My previous post about forgetting what things I love still resonates with me and I miss identifying with things that inspire me. I'm excited to discover some new loves.

2 ----- Learn more about Vietnamese history. It's embarrassing how little I know. I want to change that. 

3 ----- Cook recipes out of my cookbooks. I've been gifted so many great ones and they're collecting dust. Such a shame.

4 ----- Less time behind a screen and read the books in my house (and not letting myself buy new ones until I do). Y'all know my undying love for the interwebs. I'm always connected... but like I said before, having access to too much is almost less inspiring than a really focused connection with a few things. 

5 ----- Start our landscaping project (because if we don't, our yard will continue to look like Jumanji). I'm obsessed with all parts of our house, but this will be a big project that I know we'll be happy we took on. 

6 ---- Designing more things for me. I've walked away from my own work for so long that I don't know who I am anymore - hence the sudden surge in blogging. I miss making things for soul.

7 ---- Spend more quality time with my hubs. We're together all the time, but I know I need to work on being focused on him and making sure he knows how much I love being with him. 

 

It's not a long list, but a solid one for me. Each of these areas of focus will help me feel like me again and I'm looking forward to it. Here's to a more fulfilling 2018. 

About last year // 2017 by Myan Duong

Are you officially an old person when you consistently remark about time passing faster and faster every year? If so, I'm in full on geriatric mode. (*slow down, Time. You're freaking me out.)

Shit, 2017. I have so many feelings about you. 

Sitting back and reflecting on what literally seems like a one minute montage is so hard, but part of my hope of being more mindful, not just in 2018, but moving forward, it seems like it's a good time to solidify the thoughts and emotions I have about the past 365 days. So what happened... let's see...

JOB.png

After almost two years at a startup, I decided it was time to move on. The surrounding circumstances had changed and things were just a little too dodgy for my taste, so for this control freak, it felt like the best time to mosey along. The experience was great. I learned a lifetime of things I never would have otherwise, but among those were what I don't want in a work environment. That's not necessarily a remark on the company, but more so what I think all people should do for themselves - that is to define what is right and wrong for them. Whether it's conducive to my creativity, my mentality or my general well-being, this stopped being that place for me and I'm old enough now to call it when I see it. 

So now I'm at a slightly larger place (by slightly, I mean tenfold) and I feel like it was a good move. Client work isn't always sunshine and roses, but its nice to be around a lot of new energy and each day is well-paced. That statement alone makes me feel like I've aged a million years, but something that I'm coming to terms with is giving up the idea that I have hustle every day to consider myself successful. After years of pushing and fighting, I'm okay with willfully choosing to slow things down and enjoy some predictability so I can focus on other parts of my life. 

FIGHT.png

I believe I've stated this before - I'm not a political person, but I've always been a person of beliefs. Politics and beliefs can be one and the same, but I've always struggled with the manifestation of belief in policy. It's just so difficult to fully grasp the implications of these choices from one life to another, which is why I've always left it to the "professionals" and stepped away. I'm neither educated nor engaged enough to feel worthy of an opinion... 

Until now. The night that "he who will not be named" was elected will always be burned into my soul. It was a sad day and I know I was not the only one hoping that if we went to sleep, we'd wake up and it was just a bad dream. HOW? How in the flying fuck did we just put a man who made a cameo in "The Little Rascals" in the highest office in the land? How did we just validate someone who admitted it's okay to "grab them by the pussy" and then pretended like he wasn't recorded saying it? This confusion. This vomit-inducing rage. This supreme fear is the first time I'd ever voted, or stayed engaged in an election, or professed unabashed political view points on social media. 

The day after this happened, I knew something in me had changed. But I also knew something changed in everyone around me. While it is absolutely impossible to see the bright side of things in this case, the one phoenix from these ashes I am grateful for has been the awakening of all the dormant, angry, inspired people (especially women, let's be honest), including myself. I often ask myself that while it's crazy to think that we'd have to fight this hard for basic human rights and equality, who would I rather be this fired up? Labels aside, I want it to be the resistance of today. First we march... now we run.

GEN.png

I've been blessed in my life to have people who have always supported, encouraged and nurtured my desire to create things. The greatest tragedy in life is passion squandered by lack of support. 

A few times this year, I've gotten the privilege to speak to the talented kids at University of Utah studying multidisciplinary design. One of the greatest influences/professors in my life and now friend is changing lives at U of U like he did in Houston many years ago and it's so refreshing to see him take on that challenge. A large part of me has always wanted to teach because I loved school so much. Everything was an experiment and there were no (real) wrong answers.  It's funny how getting ready to speak to a bunch of students make you reevaluate your entire career. Fortunately, they didn't mind that my overall message was that it's important to know that you don't to have all the answers when you graduate college. If anything, you're better off not trying to force it. The plans I had for myself and the way my life ended up are light years apart and I wouldn't trade it for the limited things I thought I wanted. I wish someone had reassured me of that when I was in school, tbh. 

HOUSE.png

Most everyone wants to own a home one day. It's just pumped into your brainwaves while you're in the womb. So naturally, after the wedding we started entertaining the idea of looking for houses. What turned into a simple exercise in assessing what was possible turned into me being totally consumed by this idea of owning my own little haven. 

After about 9 months of searching, we came across something we went to see "just as reference" for our realtor. The moment we walked in, the attachment was formed and there was no way I was going to let anyone else have that house. Did we think we'd really ever own that house? Hell no. But magical things happen when you stop being scared of what's possible and just fucking go for it. So for our 1 year wedding anniversary, we celebrated by moving into our first home and I've been living in my pajamas ever since, nesting like it's my damn job. Best. Gift. Ever.

My mom's happier than on my wedding day. Go figure. 

LOSS.png

Anyone who knows me knows I hate lumping too many life milestones together. Let's face it, there are only a few major adult ones, why not space them out a bit? Ride the wave, you know? So after we got married in 2016, the questions came pouring in, "When are you [insert annoying expectation here]?" 

2 days after Jonny's birthday I found out we were gonna have a baby. The simultaneous joy and fear was pretty overwhelming. So overwhelming that I couldn't tell him until the end of that week because I just needed to process it. Every time I thought about it, I'd well up with tears. When I did manage to tell him, we were both filled with such warm excitement and love I couldn't have imagined. It was a new wonderful feeling and for a few weeks, the daydreaming was nonstop. 

5 days after my birthday we went in for a second check up. Our first glimpse of the baby was an embryonic sac and at this checkup nothing had changed. Essentially, the baby we were preparing for wasn't quite ready to be a baby - so we were going to have to have it removed so that my body would stop thinking it was pregnant. While we never technically formed a baby, the room we made in our hearts and minds was real- not to mention we had just let our immediate family know. The loss of that alone was more devastating than I could have predicted and its taken me a good while to be able to verbalize just how I feel about it. 

Right before this happened, I had my tarot cards read for the first time. I don't normally prescribe to things like this, but what struck me was the accuracy in which it described me as person in dire need of control. (You think?) A few cards specifically called out the notion that things completely out of my control will occur and it would best serve me to stay resilient and remember there is value in the things we can't prepare for. Is this loss the Universe's cruel way of teaching me that lesson? Who knows. It definitely popped into my head when this happened. I couldn't have predicted how devastated I would feel being hollowed out of a dream I had always had or feeling like I failed at something I was supposed to naturally be able to do, but what it did so was fortify the desire to want to start this family. Together. Now. We now know we're more ready than we thought.  

Punctuating the year this way has made it tough for me to set my usual intentions for the new year. Sure, I'll drink more water, go to bed early, be nice to people, yada yada. Most of my hope for the new year lies in the ability to heal and grow in a wabi sabi kinda way. I'm hoping that as I'll still make my plans and my lists, I can find it in me to loosen the grip and let my life unfold more, evolve more freely.

All in all, 2018 is gonna be a great year. I can feel it. Despite all the future twists and turns, I see a pretty full glass. I hope I can share more thoughts - mostly for my own piece of mind, but I'm wishing you (whoever is reading this) immense hope and growth in 2018, too. 

 

Impossible to forget, but hard to remember. by Myan Duong

Have you ever gotten that point in your life where you just, like, forget the things that used to make you you? The movies you loved, the music you'd obsess over, the hobbies you had, the kinds of thoughts you'd lose yourself in.

You get so lost in your routine - keeping up with work, family, friends, responsibilities, being quasi-healthy (jk)... showering? It's a rat race and you're just trying to survive. I feel like this is veering toward a diary entry that precedes an Eat, Pray, Love situation, but it all just goes to say that I feel like I've lost touch with "who I am" these days. It's probably more of a comment on how self-centered I was in my twenties because all I ever did was sit around thinking about the proverbial Zoolander, "who am I" question. Don't get me wrong, being 30 is fucking rad and I would not go back - BUT, I do miss just occupying myself with the task of cultivating skills and experiences. So, with all this existential bullshit going through my head, I decided to make a list of shit I want to do/learn/revisit to rediscover "me." 

*cue the Garden State soundtrack*

Areas to explore

Ceramics :
The last time I've played around with trying to make things with my hands was during my Hidden Vices days. I really miss the entire process; dreaming up concepts, sketching, prototyping, getting my hands (and everything else) dirty, being able to hold something that I created. I'm determined to take a class this year and hopefully make some semi-functional pieces. 

Watercolor :
Again, one of those things I used to love so dearly. I remember in college, I never left home without my travel color set and a notebook. It was so nice to have a medium that wasn't strict or perfect and to really just let myself freely fuck around with no judgement. I wished I were better at it, but then again, I didn't care. That was so nice. I need more of that in my life. 

La Guitarra :
Did you know your girl used to be in the praise band in church many moons ago? Church is where I discovered my love for music and singing. It was the way I really felt connected to God, myself and the people around me. That sort of went away when I stopped going to church (a whole other story I'll have to tell later), but the want and need to make music still lingers. I wanted to sing a special song dedicated to my husband at our wedding, but the crushing pressure of being so rusty and performing in front of all our loved ones forced me to chicken out. I still deeply regret that. In the very least, I want to learn that one song well and sing it for him. 

Reading and Writing :
No, not like a 5 year old. I've never been a "writer" per se, but with the revival of this blog and the desire to be better at communicating through words, I find that I'll do this by reading more. I'm making it a point to try to slow down, turn off Apple TV, put on a record and grab the nearest book (even if they're mostly picture books in this house), and dig a little deeper. Maybe you'll see the fruits of that labor in these posts.

Seeing Shit IRL :
It's hard not to want to retreat to my cozy house and grab my laptop and just absorb art at my finger tips, but I need to make a concerted effort to see shit out in the world. Living in Austin has its benefits and drawbacks. There isn't an amazing museum district or vast array of city pockets to explore like Houston had, but there's something. I'm just going to have to get off my ass and find it. A few faves so far: The Blanton (not too shabby!), Austin by Ellsworth Kelly, Laguna Gloria, The Contemporary

Learning about Vietnamese History:
I've never been a history buff. I have the memory of a starfish and I pretty much know cliff's notes if you're lucky. I'm GREAT a regurgitating podcasts though. Anyway, one thing I'd really love to do this year is dig into the history and cultural nuances of being Vietnamese - the war, the people, the country. I'd be deeply saddened and disappointed with myself if I had nothing to pass down to my kids. 

This list will probably keep growing as I start to wake these old loves, but I'm a fan of starting small and letting the journey take me where it's gonna go. Alright... now let's get cultured, motherfuckers.

#ALJETSNODUONGS by Myan Duong

MJ_One_Year.png

As cliche as it is to state, I can't believe how fast this year flew by... mostly because that means we've been married for a whole year! We did it! *Whew*

I look back on the day itself and wish I could've just slowed time down or frozen it (you're lucky, Zach Morris) so that I could stop and admire all of the amazing people who came together to celebrate, all the details that we set up, the happy glow in my husband's eyes. It really was one of the absolute best days of our lives and feel so fortunate that we got to plan it just the way we dreamed it would be with the help of so many gracious people. 

Post wedding, the first year certainly wasn't the hardest, but it wasn't all cake and sunshine either. We learned that as you start shift your focus and plans, you really need to work hard to build a life that make you both happy - even after ten years together, that's a challenge. Being married somehow amplifies all that. I am so grateful for the partner that I chose and that he chose me back.

This year we went on trips, got new jobs, had new arguments, made new inside jokes, laughed, cried, and get this... we bought a mother fuckin' house! That's right, mom and dad! Your kids are badass adults (kinda). We are so stoked about the new chapter and the chance to bear witness to each other as we grow. My husband's pretty great (and I don't think I'm even a little biased). I think he likes me, too. 

Happy Anniversary, love. You da best. #aljetsnoduongs

An Apology to Houston by Myan Duong

Houston-01.jpg

Lots of people have been writing their love letters to Houston after the devastation that is Harvey (this one and this one are just lovely). Anyone who knows me doesn't need a letter to know that I'll cut you if you talk bad about my hometown. So it goes without saying what an incredible place it has in my heart.

What I will do is apologize to Houston on behalf of all of us that needed such a numbingly sad circumstance to point out all the beautiful things about you. How you have cradled generations of immigrants and their children with such a warm welcome and limitless opportunity. The way you kept so many of us from feeling the real cold of the recession - graduating without a clue of what to do and where to go. How you can hold many so newcomers and let them truly experience the American dream; to be able to buy houses, raise families, maintain a decent job. I'm sorry we had to see all our favorite restaurants and dives underwater to fully express how much color and joy they bring to our lives. 

I'm grateful that you were wise enough not to repeat Katrina, risking so many lives in an impossible situation. We all really feel like you did your best. And now, as the water starts to find its way out, we'll truly begin to see your character. When the adrenaline drains from our bodies and the real work starts. I hope that you know you set the bar very high. That devastation only resembled compassion and determination when lobbed at you. (I'm also sorry I couldn't be closer to console you). You weren't bitter when your (or rather "the") President couldn't bother himself to actually come into the city at the height of your pain. And when he did come, you still welcomed him and thanked him. Way to take the high road.

I'll take this experience with me. And when I feel at the brink of some trivial breakdown, I'll try to remember how you handled yourself and draw from it as best I can. We are here for you, Houston. Thank you for showing us what real strength can look like. 

#houstonstrong #texasforever

So I started vlogging... by Myan Duong

It seems like forever that I've been priming myself to start this project. I'm obviously not good at writing about my life, but I certainly find the energy to film it somehow. Last year, I challenged myself to create 15 second monthly recaps on Instagram and miraculously accomplished it knowing that I wanted to eventually make full fledged videos. So here we are. The start of something really disastrous or really cool. Here's to my Youtube dreamz coming true.

Hope you enjoy. **be merciful.

 

 

by Myan Duong

  💀 P O P U P S H O P 💀 Don’t miss the Manready Mercantile x New Living Pop Up shop this weekend, y'all! — 
321 West 19th Street, Houston TX 

 10am - 7pm Caturday (I’ll be there!) 
11am- 6pm Funday 

 #hiddenvicesjewelry

💀 P O P U P S H O P 💀 Don’t miss the Manready Mercantile x New Living Pop Up shop this weekend, y'all! —
321 West 19th Street, Houston TX

10am - 7pm Caturday (I’ll be there!)
11am- 6pm Funday

#hiddenvicesjewelry

us/02 by Myan Duong

image

Despite popular belief, Galveston can be really pleasant. 

J’s lovely family from Iowa came to visit a few months back - so I’m backlogging the fun little Houston adventure. It’s sad that it takes visitors coming into town to really make your city (former city) come to life for you. 

P.S. I’ve been just as terrible as I predicted at taking more portraits of us. Go, me!

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image