Tag Archives: YEE DESIGN

#15: BE ORIGINAL, BE REMEMBERED

August 14, 2015

Chandelier and dining room at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)

Design enables life to be vibrant. Design resonates.

Be creative. Be original. Be remembered.

At Poon Design Inc., we believe architecture communicates more than aesthetics. Architecture communicates ideas. Architecture expresses everything from our culture and the community we live in, to the specific needs and solutions for each of our clients. We call this content.

Design tells a story. Whether it is the design of letterhead or a blog, a restaurant or a hospital, the design says who the client is. And who the client aspires to be.

Mural and sushi counter at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)
Mural and sushi counter at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)

At our restaurant design for Chaya in downtown Los Angeles, the style of their cuisine, Asian Fusion, inspired our architecture. We fused the modern world with traditional Japanese culture. At one end of the restaurant, an art installation/chandelier comprises 1,500 plastic toys, created in collaboration with British sculpture Stuart Haygarth. At the other end, Japanese artist Ajioka hand painted a 35-foot wide, classical Asian landscape mural on planks of Hinoki Cypress.

For the bar, Poon Design transformed a Venetian mirror into an ambitious element that frames the area and the experience. Rather than the traditional Venetian technique of layered mirrored surfaces, we laser back-etched mirrored panels with our own modern interpretation of the historic European patterns. Carrara marble, brass sheets from Spain and blackened metal details complete the composition.

Bar at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)
Bar at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)

Our aggressive spirit to embrace and further a client’s identity extended far beyond architecture and interior design. Sure, we custom designed the furniture, the lighting and the landscape. But we also designed Chaya’s graphic products, from business cards to ad posters, from website to matchbook covers, from event packages to menus.

Ads for the Chaya restaurants, by Sue and Danny Yee with Poon Design
Ads for the Chaya restaurants, by Sue and Danny Yee with Poon Design

We went further. We curated the art and interior styling, and even provided commentary on the waiter uniforms.

Still no stopping. As is a personal passion of mine, Poon Design assisted in the programming of the restaurant’s music, ensuring that the acoustic atmosphere coalesced with the architecture. Both the physical environment and the aural environment evolved together as the day progressed: from brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner, to late night drinks.

Our Chaya project was honored with an international design award from The American Institute of Architects for Best Restaurant.

Private dining room and garden patio at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)
Private dining room and garden patio at Chaya Downtown, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)

Poon Design’s design process is a journey, one that involves vision, creativity and artistry. When we design, we take the client on a trek that leads to delightful discoveries of higher purpose. We also balance our lofty aims with the grunt work of logistics—agency approvals, budgets, schedules, and maintenance.

We believe good design is the architecture of place-making. It is the art of making certain that when a visitor arrives at your project, he or she comprehends the ambitions behind it.

In the end, it boils down to essence. Good design is the challenge of capturing the essence of a project, revealing it in distinctive physical form. Good design means breaking new ground to build something groundbreaking. Good design means forsaking the tried-and-true for something exceptional, something that is potent.

#14: EVERYTHING IS DESIGN

July 31, 2015

Poon Design business cards, by Danny Yee with Poon Design

Design is everywhere. Whether decorating a home, building a new city hall, master planning a park, or embarking on a high speed rail—design is at the epicenter.

Design is indeed everything, from cake decoration, the season’s latest fashions, make up and blow outs, websites and branding, planning a wedding, a hybrid engine, to the ergonomics of a toothbrush handle.

Design is the nexus of all this and more.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado, by Anthony Poon (while w/ HHPA)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado, by Anthony Poon (while w/ HHPA)

Staggering: estimated 75 million viewers per month of HGTV, 1 million subscribers of Architectural Digest, 1 million subscribers to Sunset, 300,000 readers of Dwell, $100 billion comprising the US construction industry, 100,000 members of The American Institute of Architects, and so on. And the numbers grow daily.

Print and online: Metropolis ,Communication Arts, Interior Design, House & Garden, Wallpaper, Elle Décor, Architecture, Architectural Record, A+U, Detail, Dezeen, The Architect’s Newspaper, arcspace, designboom, Architizer—just to name a few.

So many TV shows, books, websites, blogs, conventions, and media.

The design of a museum or a shoe store—the announcement often headlines the news. Architects as iconic figures in movies, DIY everywhere, prefab homes, style as content, going green—it is all part of a dramatic movement of design being universal. Everywhere.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat retail store, Beverly Hills, California, by Poon Design
Vosges Haut-Chocolat retail store, Beverly Hills, California, by Poon Design

In the past decades, stores have sprouted that made “design” approachable. Retail placed design on a mainstream platform and within the reach of consumers, with stores literally called Design Within Reach. The traditional Crate and Barrel offered a new hip and youthful company called CB2. Pottery Barn inserted their own design studios within their stores, led by in-house “designers.”

Each of these retailers sold design as a lifestyle, not just a commodity.

Even in the tabloids. Though it was a while ago, I can’t forget how Brad Pitt praised his own love for architecture. He also criticized how Jennifer Aniston, his then-wife, had no understanding of modern design. Jennifer countered with how Brad’s sense of design was cold, and that she preferred warm and cozy. (Was this about design or demeanor?)

With puzzling audacity, Brad then criticized architectural education, and somehow landed his dream job as an “architect” at the office of Starchitect Frank Gehry. Brad Pitt bellowed, “I’m really into architecture, structure and design. Give me anything and I’ll design it.”

Oscar-nominated actor Brad Pitt and Pritzker Prize architect Frank Gehry (photo source unknown)
Oscar-nominated actor Brad Pitt and Pritzker Prize architect Frank Gehry (photo source unknown)

I don’t know how and when design moved out of the privileged Renaissance world that commissioned Michelangelo and Palladio as architects. With great fury, design moved into everyday hands—from weekend warriors at Home Depot, to domestic goddesses wielding Martha Stewart paint swatches.

I welcome this movement that has delivered design to the general audience. With design topics at the forefront of conversations and with resources accessible to everyone, the world is a more thoughtful, delightful place.

© Poon Design Inc.