While listening to the Valentine episode on Planet Money the host's are shouting out their Valentines. What I thought was a peculiar shout out, turned out quite insightful. Ann Wroe the obituary writer for The Economist was one of the admirers. Sometimes she writes about a famous person, sometimes its not. When asked about her process. She explain's she only has 36 hours to turn around a project. She likes to look for autobiographies. She's not interested in what others have to say about the deceased. She only wants to hear what the person she's profiling has to say about themselves. She say's "I'm trying to get the human soul. I really believe in the soul. Therefore what I'm doing is capturing souls." The host  says  "I think that's the reason why she's so memorable when she writes. Because when she writes, she's actually becoming someone else." 

The irony is awesome.  An obituary writer capturing souls. So funny.  

Creativity is capturing souls. Creativity is empathy. To empathize with someone or something is to understand. It is when we fully understand and immersed we can become better, we build greater. 


I watched their documentary last night (see previous post) and wanted to learn more about the duo. So I listened to their latest episode "Creating." I especially love @ 16 min 20 sec. They compare the creative process to the tourettic person along the subway and bus line. The person is yelling to themselves and/or to a wall. We've all seen this. Yes, this person is creating a ton of content. Yes, this person is gaining a ton of attention, but is that worthwhile content? Is the content fruitful? Is he/she creating something meaningful, and for the better good of the world.  


One thing I've been trying to be conscious about is my spending habits. Buy when I need and not what I want. Yes, I impulsively buy shoes and camera gear quite often. Like I said. I'm trying!!!! I'm hoping to draw inspiration from this documentary. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm excited to watch this when I get home tonight. Give it a look. 



If you haven't noticed by now design is a subjective trade. Similar to our taste in music. You and I are unique because we're individually influenced, and we classify good design differently. So how can we identify if our design is good? Cause what's good to you, may not be as seductive to me. Kanye West said a line that resonates here. "For me, first of all, dopeness is what I like the most." Kanye's dopeness is loaded with personal introspection. Again, it's subjective. If I may dissect, he's tying all of his personal experiences, idea of taste, visual appeal and constructive criticism to articulate something intuitively dope to him. Keyword, himself. Simply saying dope may be misleading to the untrained eye. Because what's dope to him, may not be dope to you. If we formulate dopeness, it means 3 things:  aesthetics, crafted intention, and unwavering confidence. Good design is the sum of all three.


Own a look like Picasso owns Cubism and stick to it. Be consistent in applying the look. If you're working with a family of things, define a common style to tie them all together. It's best practice to choose a look that fits your project, and retain it all the way through. I'm not asking you to stick to one style for the rest of your career. Just stick to one style for the rest of your project. Visually it'll be perceived as aesthetic confidence. You'll thank me later. In the industry we call this Design Language. In the long term try other design languages. The best designers adapt different styles over time.


Good design is not just good looking objects. Having a beautiful object but a weak idea, is like building a skyline with shit foundation. It's a tall tale with a weak plot. Eventually it folds into itself. You'll be surprise how far a strong and deliberate idea goes. Seth Godin said it best "No one is asking you to be that person who invent something that never exist before." I believe the best designers identify a problem space, finds the solutions that already exist, and bring them together. For example camera phones. At some point in history it became cumbersome to lug around a film camera, and rolls, and rolls of film. At a one-point someone saw the opportunity to combine the camera with a memory card, and inspired a shift in camera technology. Cameras became smaller, thinner, and lighter. Small enough that at another point it became cumbersome to lug around a digital camera and a cell phone. Someone saw the opportunity to combine the digital camera and cellphone, and inspired a shift in smartphone technology. We're not asking you to design something that never exist before. Truthfully we are curators of the present, we identify the problems we live with today, we orchestrate and combine solutions that already exist, therefore we design for the future. This is how you build strong ideas. Qualify it with real world science, the more realistic the science the stronger the idea. 


Lastly be your number one fan. Like Kanye, loves Kanye. Be proud of what you produce, and don't produce anything you're not proud of. Unfortunately there is lots of vanity in being a designer.  Yes, be humble but also be bad-ass. You have a to command a level of respect for your designs. Companies hire you for your subjective opinions. Have confident in your work, because If you're unsure so will your cleint and audience.



Today I celebrate HoBo's one year anniversary. Its crazy how time flies. I'm happy to report back, I've blogged a shit ton this year. Unfortunately I haven't done any long motorcycle trips yet. Spring is around the corner though, and I have a few moto camping trips planned. I've saved up and bought proper equipment over the winter. Can't wait for the weather to warm up a bit. 

Life After Death by Terry Dang

We were both born in '87, four months apart, so for four months I lived without you. We are Cousins, you are like a brother. Of those four months we were blips, atoms, too young to understand the concept of separation. We've done everything together since, from our first steps, to our first drink, and the first Marlboro. Whether good or frowned upon we experienced it together. When you left in May, I felt how real the concept of separation is. A large part of me withered away that day, leaving me to only feel robbed of those memories, as if my childhood, our childhood never existed.

It is a bit odd, how life has now come full circle. I'm back at square one, but instead of four blank months I'm facing a whole lifetime without you. It is extremely challenging and very painful, but it took your death for me to realize how much you can really love a person. We all have our own reasons why we don't express our emotions more often. Personally, with you, I wish i did more...

"Live good, keep those that matter close, love often, and love hard." - Hoang Nguyen

Huy, here's to your first birthday without you, I LOVE YOU. #takeashotforwee.

Made of Art and Science

Thanksgiving eve my mom asked my brother and I to attend mass. Growing up I was raised catholic. Young, innocent, naive. I've come far from that innocent naive young boy. Today, I don't pray as often, I attend mass lesser. I blame it on science. 

It's interesting to think about my career as a designer vs my life as a faithful catholic . Good Industrial design to me is the ability to balance, it's orchestrating the right amounts of emotions (art) vs logic an reason (science.)

Today, I would go rounds with someone about art and design. I defend art & rely on practicality, reasoning and logic of science. I defend the emotions that drives me to create.  Making objects that push me, that push my feelings . I design to stimulate, to describe an emotion, play with the senses. For what? To bond and relate to others. There is nothing more compromising to the guards we put up than showing people our vulnerability, nothing more  relatable, or give a sense of camaraderie than the way design allows me to be. 

My life now is designing products that connect to the world, and to people. We are pareidolic, we see hints of people and faces in design. Cars look aggressive or gentle in their design styling. Anthropomorphic in ways. I build empathy into machines. But If emotions, people and art drive me. Then what is the value of science? Science is calculative, its logical to me. Today I wonder why I use art to feel and live. But, use science in the face of the catholic temple that brought me up. To challenge words like: spirit, holy and faith. Aren't these cut from the same emotional fabric as art to me? You have faith because you feel no? 

I'm writing this as a confession. That I don't go to mass, not because I don't believe in a god. But I've seen bad people, wear good people masks. I believe in all hierarchy. That one should have some sort of goodness gauge in life . All religion teaches good values. At its core, be good to people, treat others with respect, and dignity. 

Thanksgiving eve I lied. I lied to my mom. I said I went to mass.

Why? Science, pride, logic, reasoning.

My mom tells me a story. A man sees a girl crying on the side walk. He approaches her and asked why. She wants to buy her mom flowers for Mother's Day, and missing a few coins. He offers to help and drives her to her mother. They drive for awhile and end up at a cemetery. At this moment the man realizes. "Why do I send flowers to my mother when she's still alive." This girl can't even say hi to her own mother, if she wanted to. 

I'd go to mass again to hear these types of stories. To remind me of family and the important things in life. 

My group of friends are young and full of energy. Last year it took a death for many of us to realize how delicate life is. Losing a friend, brother, cousin, son at the peak of his career really upsets things. Have whatever faith you want, believe in any god you like. Just live good. Keep those that matter close, love often, and love hard. 

Glance Magazine

A few months ago Glance magazine asked my brother and I to do an Alumni feature about post CCA, things we've learned and carried on with us, and the 411 on things we're doing now. I was told the magazine would hit shelves  November - December. I totally forgot until a buddy text me this image last night. WHOOOOO what a pleasant surprise. 

An Inquiry Into Values

So I have started reading Pirsig's book, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. From what I understand, it's not about motorcycle maintenance. So if you are looking to fix your motor-bike, do not buy this book.  It's about the values and principles the protagonist brings up through his trips and maintenance. If you have read this book, let me know what your thoughts are. I'll share my thoughts when I'm finished.

I'm now 17 pages in and I'm having a random train of thought. Take it however you like, I wrote this note immediately after exiting Cal-Train. Here is the copy & paste from my notes:

"We think about the things we have in common w/others all the time. Whether friends or lovers, we bond because we can relate: "He loves art like me," or "She enjoys music just as much as I do." This is the substance that makes us friends, enemies & lovers. Thinking deeper. What we have in common can also be in conflict. You and I both love design, but we appreciate different design practices; we love music, but like different genres. To think about it in this way, there is much more depth to life. We rationalize for love, and when we don't love anymore, we rationalize to not love. It's all a state of mind."


Inauguration of HO°BO°

I feel it's appropriate to start blog post # 1 with a song. It's not a opening ceremony without music and balloons. Truthfully, I stole the "H" while at a wedding last weekend, and to tie the song together . . . well, maybe it's about how much Bentley & the Bonneville loves me better. HAHA

There's something wildly appealing about looking back a year from now, and giggling at the music I was into.  Beyond It's comedic value, music is one way I track memories. I don't know about you, but I feel like I have an incredibly limited brain, either I'm thinking too hard, and burning up too many brain cells, or have banged my head one too many times. Whatever the reason, I'm treating this site as Hoang's journal and not a Creative Session thing. 

As a kid I've always been into motorcycles. I owned two others and a scooter before I bought the Bonneville.  My biggest regret is that I didn't document any of the other bikes. No adventure photos,  customization photos, or riding videos - nothing. With the Bonneville I want to capture everything and share it here.  Hopefully, I don't get rid of the bike anytime soon, because HoBo would be very short lived. 

I'll be sharing more on the Bonneville in a few days. But for now enjoy the balloon in the wild on this inauguration day.