We met up with the incredible team of Bruce Mau Design and interviewed two of their great designers. For the second interview, we have the awesome Kar Yan Cheung sharing her thoughts on photography and the studio photos taken with the LC-A+ and LC-Wide!
Tell us a little bit about what you do, what your role at BMD is, and what your life philosophy is.
I’m a designer at Bruce Mau Design, and I don’t know if I have a personal philosophy, per say… But a friend once shared with me something that Steve Jobs quoted (it’s actually originally from the Whole Earth Catalogue) that’s stuck with me since: Stay hungry, stay foolish. I try to remind myself of these things in whatever I take on, including life itself. If there’s anything I’d add to that, it would be to: Stay humble. You can’t learn if you aren’t humble.
What inspires you to work at Bruce Mau Design?
The breadth of work and depth of people are what really make our studio what it is. The kinds of projects and challenges we get to tackle amazes me still and it’s what makes the work so diverse and meaningful. But for me, what’s really special about BMD are the generous, quirky, inspiring and talented team of people I get to work with each day. It goes without saying that if you genuinely care about the projects and the people, you’re more likely to get to some place new and interesting in your work.
When did you first get interested in design?
Back when I was a biology major in university, I bought Lifestyle, the studio’s monograph, on the recommendation from a friend. It was like going on a blind date; I had never heard of BMD, let alone really knew what design was. That happy accident was monumental for me, and that book ended up changing how I understood design and even how I approached biology. It’s been a tumultuous love affair with design ever since.
How does the Bruce Mau Design team come up with work ideas?
At the studio, we try to keep our work and creative process as open and visual, as possible by pinning up our work on 4×8’ boards. It’s an analog and ad-hoc process that’s also very effective, because we can look at everything together, all at once. I guess you can think of them as a giant tactile wikipedia page for ideas.
Can you briefly describe your typical workday?
I’m not sure I have a typical workday. It usually starts with coffee and ends with sleep. Everything in between is up for grabs. Perhaps it’s a bit taxing to think of work this way, but I think design always bleeds into life, in that you never know what experiences will be fodder for the project you’re working on today or the project you’ll be working on 5 years from now. Life influences your work (and vice versa), and that basically breaks ‘design’ out of the confines of a typical 9 to 5 workday.
What activities outside from work inspire you further?
Usually doing anything but working on the project helps me get inspired. Reading, walking, talking, sleeping, eating, dancing. It’s somewhat of a cruel joke that your brain plays on you, but you get the best ideas, can make the most interesting leaps and connections when you’re not even really trying.
Do you incorporate photography to your work? How?
Always. And it can be harder to find the right image than the right words to create a mood or idea, because images are loaded with information that we interpret. You can spend hours looking for a single image sometimes.
How do you execute your ideas?
We like to say that the studio is a place of study. It’s where you learn, explore, experiment, succeed and fail, over and over again. At the beginning of each project, you have to embrace getting lost, suspend judgment, and know that you will eventually find your way out of the forest. That’s how ideas usually start— with deep research and immersion.
Analogue vs. Digital, what’s your stand?
I think there is a time and place for both, so balance is key. For me, there’s something very special and textural with analog things. The process is more transparent and the product is more intimate. With digital, I usually get a different kind of feeling. The networked and immediacy of digital formats are indispensable nowadays, and in many ways it’s helped to democratize information, or knowledge even. But I would say that we still predominately operate as analog creatures… for the time being at least. Though I have 30 gigs of MP3s, I will always love the ritual of putting on a record.
Are you working on other projects? Tell us about them.
Well right now I’m working on conceptual programming and exhibit design for a NYC music museum. I’m also on a project in Boston that’s addressing urban design and branding within the larger context of a university campus masterplan project. Up next is a collaboration with our friends at HWKN on a book that challenges us to rethink current perceptions around aging and reimagine how we live out the final half of life.
Any inspiring tips for our Lomography Community?
Create, create, create. Challenge yourself to make things and carry it through to the end. Inspiration and learning come to you during the process of creation and completion. And if it makes you uncomfortable, even better. The creative process should make you vulnerable, especially to failure, because that’s how you grow in your work or life. That’s how you know it’s something worth doing…
Look out for our next article with one more amigo inside BMD!
The Lomo LC-Wide boasts the newly-developed 17mm Minigon Ultra-Wide Angle lens. This 35mm camera wonder is the perfect companion for your photo expeditions. It produces eye-catching splashes of colour with astonishing saturation and contrasts with the added versatility of 3 different formats. Open up to a new photographic experience with the LC-Wide, available in our Shop.