What he does: Chris Nguyen is a graphic designer, photographer, blogger and interior designer with a knack for making the most of a tiny space. He recently caught our eye with his modernist design for a 569-square-foot apartment in Houston House as part of their emerging designers showcase. In 2010, his design for his 450-square-foot home beat out 500 others in a national competition run by Apartment Therapy. He also runs the design blog Analog|Dialog.
With a background in photography and a current position as a graphic designer, he quietly moved into interior design a few years ago. "It started with me going into other people's homes and mentally rearranging their spaces," he says.
Why he likes it: "There's something incredibly fun about making a living doing something creative, whether it's brand advertising or photography," Nguyen says. "I've come to realize I'd like to leave the world a better-looking place."
What inspires him? Charles and Ray Eames, of Eames Chair fame, are the ones he's quickest to point to. In an age where people are pigeonholed as "interior designers," "furniture designers" or "clothing designers," Nguyen sees the Eameses' success as "designers in the broadest sense," as well as in film and fine art, as an inspiration. "I don't want to call myself any sort of specific artist or designer," he says.
In the day-to-day, Nguyen finds inspiration for his work "for better or worse, like anybody else, on the Internet." He combs 200 blogs per week, looking for interesting architecture, typography, furniture, anything visually interesting.
After we talked to him, Nguyen e-mailed us this clarification:
I don't often think about what inspires me, at least not in a tangible sense. I do look at blogs and features online, but I don't draw direct inspiration from that. That's more of an exercise in finding where the ground is. When I'm working on a project, I ask myself if what I am producing matters and does it have the ability to affect at least one person who looks at it. I'm constantly checking myself at every step to make sure that every decision serves some sort of purpose -- whether it's a line in a print piece, an object in an interior space or a shadow in a photo. What drives me is the need to make something relevant.
If not here, then where? Nguyen tells us he has "many places" he'd love to go, but "there is definitely a unique sort of creativity in Houston. The work I create here I probably couldn't create anywhere else."
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Nguyen relishes the challenge of designing small spaces in a sprawling city like Houston. "It's a challenge in perspective," he says.
What's next? Nguyen's design for Houston House will be open to the public next month.
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