Lost Stars

Things I love that happened today. A fast Wednesday at work filled with creativity, and purpose. That moment during a long commute when the right song comes on at the right moment. Wine nights in yoga pants with a heart friend.

Finding post-college “community” has been a challenge. After a year and half of patience, and blunt force, I finally feel there. I found out along the way that you’ll never side step the awkward, and that it’s not about how people perceive you, or achieving an idealized version of “my shit is together”. It’s about honesty. My shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Our generation is missing some of life’s richest and most gratifying moments when we let fear, shame, or apathy get in the way of building sincere, vulnerable friendships.

Something that has always struck me about this particular friend that I poured $6 wine for tonight is her bravery. She was blessed with a fearless ambition, and an incredible sense of self-worth. She reminded me tonight that all things are from, through and for Him. That statement that she made in passing was God’s grace, pure and simple, and exactly what I needed to hear.

There’s this song that’s been haunting me called “Lost Stars” from a wonderful film starring Kierra Knightly, called Begin Again. The song choruses, “God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young”. Since I’m doing 31 days worth of challenge, the least you could do is one. Put aside any rooted fears, open your door, pour wine or steep tea, and little by little foster community.

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thirty one days of hannah.

One of the many blessings that DC affords me is the opportunity to cram 5 very unusual suspects (and one mouse) into a sad excuse for square footage. And while we may just be the next row house on the journey to eastern market, this quirky little abode has slowly become a home.

Our newest member of 406, Lisa Kate, has recently (two hours ago) challenged J and I to 31 days of blogging. I’m not sure if this acceptance speech is spurred by the desire to prove to Lisa that I can do it, or to prove that to myself. Or maybe it’s the glass of red wine sitting on my nightstand.

My 31 days won’t be about any subject matter in particular, which is new for me. It’s about you getting to know me, and I to know myself. Not to say there won’t be posts about pretty things, but I’m working on identifying myself through other avenues than interior design. Interior design is something that I love about myself; some days it’s the only thing. Which is why things are about to get vulnerable and beautiful all at once.

Please also follow + fall in love with my roomies: Lisa Kate // Jenny Ruth

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Insta // Inspiration

A Summer Hiatus. I’m going to think of my past four months as a time to reflect instead of a time to beat myself up over “forgetting” to post, or to pick up my dry cleaning for that matter. I’m not bitter, so don’t you be either.

Have you seen those “10 creative Instagram accounts to follow* posts that have been popping up everywhere? Well, not that I’m anyone important, but more than one person has asked me recently who I cyber-stalk on a day-to-day. I live within the mantra that inspiration comes in a variety of forms, and each of these accounts brings something unique to my feed that keeps me guessing and incessantly scrolling. So here they are, in no particular order. My top ten.

Happily Grey

FASHION FORWARD. @happilygrey … Fashion trends parallel interiors. As designers, we are constantly tasked with looking to the runway.

Homepolish

ON A BUDGET. @homepolish … Because let’s face it, I’m no Martha Stewart, and money doesn’t grow on our cherry blossom trees.

Designsponge

DUH. @designsponge …

Apieceoftoast

OLD FAITHFUL. @apieceoftoast … I’ve followed Sally and Molly for the past three years. They are always a breath of fresh air, and remind me to keep even the little things about my life beautiful.

UrbanPalatela

FOOD PORN. @urbanpalatela … Stone Fruit Parfaits. Need I say more?

designmilk

POTENTIAL PRODUCT. @designmilk … A great source of inspiration when designing custom pieces at work. They always have something new, and a little quirky.

sniequist

BOOK WORM. @sniequist … She’s been a large topic of discussion in our quaint little row house over the past month. I can’t wait to dive into her book “Bread and Wine” currently en route to our house via my best friend Amazon.

savroberts

BECAUSE I KNOW HER. @savroberts … Somehow she went from one year ahead of me in design school to San Francisco minimalist …This is one of those live vicariously things isn’t it?

rachelpamment

FOR MY HOME. @rachelpamment … because she is the epitome of my at home style (for now at least).

thedesignchaser

BLACK + WHITE. @thedesignchaser … because sometimes I still find color repulsive.

And myself you ask (or don’t)? @han_yon.

I hope this coming week brings you joy. Until next time.

- H

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Neo Friendly

As the plane ricochets through dusty gray skies and onto the runway, I take notice of the Washington Memorial to my right, and I know I’m home. Whatever semblance of a home Washington, DC can symbolize. Vacations mean time for reflection. Perspective replaces the complacency that is your day-to-day routine. On my trip to a far-away tropical wonderland, I’ve had ample time for contemplation. (In between the unfailing urge to scratch these dreadful mosquito bites)

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Whenever I’m around my boyfriends’ family for long stints of time, the conversation always veers towards the future. No, not just wedding bells. Give me a break people, there are hurdles in life that need getting through before adventures like that can truly be cherished. There’s talk about Andrew’s younger sister’s future career, his parents’ travel plans, the life that their new Labrador puppy will lead. There’s a spirit in people that comes alive when they whisper of possibility, a hopeful glint in their eyes.

In my last post I spoke about not taking life too seriously, which is precisely what we did this past week. I read 1-3/4 books, sunbathed in 110 sunscreen on white sandy beaches, and gave my long-lost boyfriend a lot of X’s and O’s. It’s too bad that we can’t always be on vacation. Good thing my line of work helps people to truly enjoy that time away from home.

Upon my arrival, my new apple technology bleeped with impatience, and my screen flooded with work emails, missed calls, and voicemails alike. As I hack through the weeds of what I missed, I always take time to linger on the nicety emails that are sent around the office (perhaps procrastinating the important messages that require a lot of thought). The “inspiration” photos, new product ads, and the occasional continuing education mail. One Youtube video share in particular caught my eye. It was a gem among the monotonous chain.

It’s a visual interpretation of how consumer-spending habits are trending in response to our recent economic collapse.

I thought a lot about how this relates to me. And yes, I am a Neo. Andrew is constantly teasing me for my inherent need for the “personal experience.” I never want to do or buy anything that other people experience or own. I have this need inside to be different. I think it’s because I see this world for what it is. An overpopulated wasteland. How do you shine in a population of 7 billion?

This increasingly polarized consumer spending makes it even more important to determine your market. I’ll strive to remember that when designing for you, my little neos.

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More Beautiful than SILENCE.

This blog is obviously a little belated. If it makes my readers feel more appreciated, there’s a painting in the corner of my room that’s been a “work in progress” for 3 months… I’m working on consistency (in all aspects of life). At any rate, I’m here now. In yoga class we have a word of the day at the beginning of each class. Of course, that comes after the “mmmmmmm”’s where I awkwardly look out of the corner of my eye to make sure other yogis are participating in it before I start to….

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This Saturday morning’s word was “switch.” We were focused on the transition of seasons. I’m hoping this new season of life brings lots of rest, quality time with the people I love, and cemented friendships with some fellow Washingtonians. Regardless of all that, I hope it brings warmth. I’m a little tired of throwing on my Uggs to ten minutes later realize that I didn’t put socks on. I’m allergic to wool people. That’s not comfortable.

For the immediate future, I surprisingly have a lot of travel plans on the horizon. A much needed beach vacay with my man and his wonderful family, a work trip to the infamous Nashvegas, and a celebration of my 12 year old brother’s spring break at a long-time family retreat. As always, this blog won’t continue to be about my personal life. It’s not that exhilarating anways. I just use this banter to warm you up, to grasp your attention with my weird humor so that you’ll listen to me rant about design.

Travel is my work. I design hotels, a wanna-be respite or adventure away from home. Marriott International pays a lot of money every year to research Generation Y, and what you want from your hospitality experience. Showers, not bathubs. Open closets, no doors and drawers. Your bed is your desk. ALL THINGS TECHNOLOGY. TV’s? The bigger the better. I guess Texas was right about that. I’m constantly pushing that theory. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT?! I’m here, we are making it reality.

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One of my roommates said this week, “It’s kind of bizarre that people invest so much in designing these hotels, a place that people usually only use to come back at 11pm and sleep.” Epiphany. I’m not even mad. She’s so right. You don’t want. I invest so much of myself in creating these experiences for people to come and enjoy; a design story as you travel from the front door up to your guest room. In my head, I’m designing a place where people are going to want to spend all of their time, a destination. As it turns out, that is absolutely conceded, and far from reality.

I’ve been stressed at work. Although I endeavor to hide it on a daily basis, my roommates know it too well. Instead of complaining over and over, that “‘ain’t NOBODY got time for that!” I need to learn to live by my design director’s mantra,“We’re not curing cancer here, people”! I’ll leave you with that. Sorry to those of you who are working to cure cancer. You are allowed to have anxiety. Only you.

Was that too far? I need to learn to only open my mouth when I have something more beautiful to say than silence.

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EVER UPWARD

You know that feeling in life of always waiting for the next big thing and forgetting to enjoy the moment you are in? I get like that a lot. Not that my life is so fabulous and exciting that I always have great adventures on the horizon. Sometimes I have to force myself to crave the “here and now”. To take refuge in moments that you might otherwise fill checking your Instagram feed, chronically going over your to-do list in your head, or daydreaming. I guess it’s the visual person in me, but sometimes to savor that moment is taking one thing and seeing it a million different ways, from every angle.

Like a balloon.

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Have I lost you yet? In my creative line of work, I’m often given tasks to design things off the top of my head that evoke interest and ingenuity from an audience. For example, most recently, I was tasked with designing a luggage bench for a guest room renovation. I started with the basic concepts that had already been developed in the space: The linear, asymmetrical nature of the custom case goods, and the general design story of a biking trail on the path from a metropolitan city to a suburban oasis. To name a few, I came up with vinyl fabric running like tire treads across the top surface of the seat. Metal wiring, or “Bike spokes” asymmetrically surprising the sides of the bench. For functionality, a tilted, horizontal surface below for shoe storage.

Some of my 15+ ideas were useable, and some too far-fetched for our minimalist-driven client. The real problem is that it took me at least 45 minutes to get there, and it was still more conceptual ideas than fully developed drawings that I could send to the manufacturer. I need to train my brain to reach these creative end results in a more efficient manner.

So, being the pro-active, go-getter employee that I am (Annual Reviews are coming up… gotta look good). I did some research.

At first, you can ask yourself, much like I did, what do I know about the problem that needs solving? Make a list, be that anal-retentive person people have come to know and love. (Well, maybe love is a little strong).

Then, I think I can conclude that you give your left-brain a big margarita, and send it on vacation, forbidden to return until the end of your creative process. To do that it means walking away from the sketchbook, do one of those mindless tasks we all know and love that transitions your train of thought from the accountant, to the artist.

If I’ve learned anything in the last 5 years, it’s that the human spirit lacks pure originality, because look around; we’ve pretty much invented everything! But there is always room to build on pre-existing ideas. So why wouldn’t you make use of tools like the internet to help feed your creative process. Those unadulterated, novel ideas aren’t efficient use of time, and trust me when I say you WILL get surpassed by the millennials who live and breath Google searches, Pinterest, and blogging if you don’t hop on board.

I’ve been that person that is too good to make use of the other designer or artists’ ideas in their own projects. I know that feeling of wanting to be wholly original. But I also know that I want to be an advocate for my client, and for the company that I work for making efficient use of the 8, or 10 no-lunch-break, hours that I spend there every day. Spawning creativity off of other creativity?! What could get more innovative than that?!

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A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

DC is a funny place. I think you could live here for 10 years and still consider yourself “new to the city.” I mean really, are we ever going to get the hang of this public transportation system? Apparently I’m not because I ended up in the middle of Anacostia yesterday… without pepper spray… (Look it up). This week I watched the Mitt Romney documentary, went to an “Underground” Taiwanese restaurant that was actually above ground, and walked the entire way up multiple metro escalators around the city basically to torture myself. I still don’t think I’ll ever understand this strange, strange northern place. One thing is for sure: it’s never boring.

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I’ve thought a lot recently about what I give to the world. What hospitality design gives to people, and what people truly want from hospitality design.

This week we’ve labored through creating a design concept, or a “story” for one particular hotel. Our generation is thirsting for a sense of place, a personality within the four walls that you stand. I guess designers have often gotten by with this idea of the platonic “pretty”. The “Oh, that pattern is so in right now.” When in my mind (secretly of course), I’m saying “Give me chevron and I give you puke.” As a designer for this next generation we are constantly pushing ourselves to create a sense of place that helps guests identify with the native culture by which they are surrounded. We have to be of the now, of the place, and timeless.

I talked about this with a friend yesterday as we scurried through Dupont Circle dodging cars and demonic pigeons. America has lost, or maybe never obtained in the first place, a forthright cultural identity. What are we if we aren’t a conglomerate of ethnicities and traditions in one big melting pot? To me that’s most apparent in our architecture. I mean lets be honest, we kind of just stole everyone else’s ideas. When you go to Rome or to Barcelona, you know what to expect, you know what culture and details you’re going to experience. If we’re talking about architectural disjunction, Chicago skyline is the ultimate example. Regardless, designing with cultural relevance in America isn’t an easy task. I guess that’s why it takes true talent to step up to the challenge.

(*Humble wink*).

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