MINI x Shanghai

Automotive, Living, Work, Fashion. On first glance, these sectors may seem detached or isolated from one another, however, together they are the core elements that build the foundation of urban life for the Creative Class. MINI has introduced a unique vision for a brighter city life, whilst keeping a small footprint. The MINI mission is to integrate design expertise with the spirit of experience—a radically new future of urban living.

Cityscapes characterised by density and scarcity are reconstructing inner-city spatial aptitudes into a modernised currency in the era of hyper-urbanisation. Growing urban populations, space utilisation, and demographic amalgamation are evoking a collision between the supply and demand of living space in the global metropolises. Innovative architectural concepts that "think outside of the box", and integrate space and time, have become a necessity, as the most relevant urban potentials lay the framework for a future focused on personal flexibility, experience, and inspiration—together.

The MINI Shanghai URBAN MATTERS EXHIBITION took place from October 27 to November 7, 2017. The event was a paramount catalyst to the MINI mission to curate, create, and reinvent solutions—connecting the past to the future for a brighter urban life. 


MINI Desk
MINI Sketch
MINI Car


This Journal entry was created in cooperation with MINI, but the art direction, photography, and writing are my own.

MINI LIVING x NYC

MINI LIVING has designed the URBAN CABIN, a micro-house that acts as a research space for revolutionising urban living. The aim of the project is to create a pragmatic space inspired by local surroundings and bring light to relevant architectural solutions for urban needs and local identities, whilst keeping a small footprint upon Earth. The URBAN CABIN in Brooklyn camouflages into the landscape and illustrates New York for the vibrant city that it is—a blend of cultural influences from around the world.  

The URBAN CABIN façade flaunts iridescent acrylic glass in bright colours that change with every movement—a reflection of the bursts of inspiration and diversity in New York. In contrast, the back door—disguised as a hammock nestled in the a beautiful vertical garden—opens to the air for rest and restoration, a breath of calm and tranquility. The culture of the project meshes a spiked, humorous façade with a soft brightly coloured upholstered nestlike seat on its interior. “It’s basically St. Mark’s Place in the 80s: a bit punk, a bit kawaii...and close to John Hejduk,” states Peter Zuspan (principal of Bureau V), detailing some of the cabin's design references.

There will be a sequence of events and activities involving the URBAN CABIN through October and November 2017. 


This Journal entry was created in cooperation with MINI, but the art direction, photography, and writing are my own.

Water Journal 3º

From the moment my eyes fall upon its intricate texture and I inhale deeply, filling my lungs with the ambrosial redolence, I am carried away to another world and I fall gently into a field with tall grass, graceful flowers, and balletic leaves that dance with the wind. Lemongrass and verbena mingle blissfully with lavender, mint, and sage—a beguiling synthesis evocative of a summer grassland. Airy and inspiriting.  Urban Koi

This is an excerpt from a new piece that I wrote titled: Tea. It is published in Water Journal - Volume 3º, released in June 2017. I reveal an ancient legend and the unique history of tea, as well as the different phases and classes of tea: white, green, oolong, black, pu-erh, tisanes, and matcha. I touch upon a soupçon of science in tea, including some interesting health benefits and properties that make tea so special. 

Order Volume 3º on Water Journal

Prospector Co.


As the heir of an aromatherapist, Kyle Hinton established Prospector Co. in Savannah, Georgia, in 2010. The unisex bath, body, and grooming commodities are constructed in care with sensitive skin in mind, formulated with no additives, artificial fragrances, and colouring. To ensure highest quality, each clean-scented elixir is blended in small portions with great attention to detail and encased by hand in classic apothecary-inspired bottles. I have been using Prospector Co. for quite a few years now and I truly recommend their products for the individual keen on natural, less commercialised goods. Health and wellness begins with the ingredients we ingest, including ones we allow our skin to absorb on a daily basis. Presented here are a few personal favourites. 


COMPRESSED TOWEL TABLETS

These compressed cotton fibre tablets instantly decompress at the touch of water and expand into small facial towelettes for convenient personal care anywhere, anytime. They are brilliant for travel and in-flight relaxation when paired with your favourite soak and a few drops of essential oils. For a lovely touch, these little jars make a welcoming and refreshing gift for guests who have paid you a weekend visit. 

LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA CREAM
8 oz. Push Dispenser

This calming moisturising hand and body cream, infused with botanicals, was designed with pure relaxation in mind. Creamy, yet light and absorbent, it leaves the skin feeling hydrated, smooth, and replenished. The essential oil blend of lavender, rosemary, and cedarwood amalgamate into a scent of subtle broken flowers, overgrown gardens, and springtime freshness. 

ROSEMARY SAGE HAND WASH
16 oz. Push Dispenser

This gentle cleansing soap is a soothing fusion of herbal essential oils with a revitalising, garden-fresh scent. Eucalyptus and sage open the sinuses and breathe clean air into the kitchen or bath. Rosemary intermixed with tea tree offer anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and deodorising properties to the palms. Thyme, characteristic with its warm, spiced scent, bears additional disinfectant features as well.

SHAVING BRUSHES

Using only the highest quality materials and handcrafted detail, all of our brushes are manufactured in Germany, working with an 80-year-old, family-owned business. The superior performance and longevity gained from age-old techniques and modern engineering make for an heirloom-quality brush that “lifts” the shaving experience (Prospector Co.).

PURE BRISTLE SHAVING BRUSH 
Made in Germany

The Pure Bristle is a natural hair brush, a superb choice for wet shaving. Its anatomy includes a beechwood handle and economical boar hair, which gives a firmer, more rigid effect to the shave, that mellows beautifully with age. This makes for an exceptional entry brush for a new wet shaver. I have given this dapper brush as a gift to a comrade and he is quite pleased. 

ACACIA WOOD SHAVING BRUSH
Made in Germany, Vegan

The natural Acacia Wood brush, with its long-lasting durability and high resistance to water, is another excellent option. The bristle is made from a superior black fibre that exudes similar qualities of the badger hair. These fibres are long-lasting, tenacious, and produce a marvelous foaming lather—they prompt reliable softness even through the constant wet and dry periods of daily use. 

Water Journal 2º

I am truly humbled to share that my writing and photography have been published in Water Journal - Volume 2ºa quiet exploration of all things water, celebrating its undeniable beauty and complexity. Published in London, it features beautiful, honest stories from incredibly talented and inspiring creatives around the world. It is a stunning work of art dedicated to the experience and cultural significance of water. 

I fell in utter love with the Journal since Volume 1º and there are no words that would do justice to encapsulate Water Journal. From the ethereal images that send one on a journey afar to the graceful curation of intimate stories, heartfelt poetry, and elegant design, one must feel the publication in one's hands to truly grasp and appreciate the intricacy of Water Journal

I wrote a short memoir paired with my photography about my connection to water titled: Chasing Fog. It is an absolute honour to be a part of the publication. A massive thank you goes out to Edvinas Bruzas, Editor & Founder.  

Order Volume 2º on Water Journal

Autumn Muses

As I peer through the rustic window back home in New York, I see leaves starting to change colour. The brisk zephyrs pass through trees with sombre sighs; the light is slowly growing melancholic and moody, signifying the beginning of my most favourite season—autumn. With ambient music playing in the background, I am sipping tea, deep in green with the essence of roasted rice, and musing upon my summer.

‘Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered,’ articulates Giorgio Armani. And, the HP Spectre is an unforgettable one.

I never thought that I would fancy another laptop other than the one I owned for the past 4 years, but the Spectre provided me with a new perspective into my art, which allowed me to reinvent my creative vision.

This past summer, I aimed to nourish my adoration in travel to a foreign land far away from the metropolis as well as increase breadth in my travel work. Some were a bit surprised at my newest travel location, as it is the opposite from the hustle and bustle characteristic of the city that I gravitate towards. However, it is reminiscent of my work as a mere child, when my passions in photography blossomed, and I took special interest in capturing the beauty of a simple dandelion.

I typically do not bring my old laptop on travels because it is quite cumbersome, but the Spectre is so incredibly light, it was fitting to bring along with me everywhere I went. This laptop challenges the future of computers—the extreme thinness of the Spectre without the compromise of power is the feature that I found to be the most striking. As I admire the Spectre bathing in autumnal light on my windowsill, I can see just how unbelievably thin this laptop is.

Moreover, from the i7 Intel Core to the artisan craftsmanship with carbon fibre, aluminium, glass trackpad, and gorgeous keyboard—the attention to detail is stunning, making this gem elegant, yet solid.

Being an urban soul, as I have written in in my previous Journal entry, I predominantly captured the ephemeral, quiet moments in urban cities. But with my Spectre, I traversed the ocean to rural Iceland and my artistic expression has distinctly evolved, evident as my visual storytelling of my magical adventure slowly unravelled. My Spectre became the perfect summer companion and will continue to be in the future.

Escaping the city with my beloved Spectre was incredibly exhilarating—it was the highlight of my summer. My heart is full.


Did any features of the HP Spectre resonate with you?
Please leave me a comment below. 



This Journal entry was created in partnership with HP, but the art direction, writing, and photography are my own.

Up + Away

I will be jetting off very soon, up and away, on my most adventurous escapade yet. I will be flying to a magical place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since I was a child, thumbing through old issues of National Geographic. I will be deviating slightly from my comfort in urban cities and travelling to a more remote land that breathes magic and wonderment through the untouched beauty of nature. Follow along through my lens as I slowly whisper my story. 

As I wrote in a previous Journal entry, I travel super light and rarely bring checked luggage, so I was delighted to discover Away, a 'one size fits all' case that I could take anywhere in the world with ease. I gave my Away Carry-On a test run on a short trip to LA and I cannot recommend this Carry-On enough. It is the perfect travel companion and will be coming along on the journey with me.

The exterior is crafted from premium German polycarbonate and the interior features an original Away compression system, removable laundry bag, and a high capacity USB charger. Additionally, the 360° spinner wheels ensure a smooth ride. 

ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Designed to comply with major airlines regarding size regulations at 21.7" H x 13.7" W x 9" D (44.4 linear inches). Custom inset wheels offer 10% more packing space.

POWER TRIP
A removable interior 10,000 mAh battery and two USB ports let multiple devices charge at once. Wall adapter and luggage-charging cable are included. 

LOCK IT DOWN
Away built a TSA-approved combination lock into the top of the bag. The zippers slot right in, so items are safe. 

 

BUILT FOR LIFE
The hardshell exterior is made of 100% Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate, a material unrivaled in strength and impact resistance. It is so light, the entire bag weighs in at only 7.2 lbs.

STRONG FINISH
Topped off with luxurious touches with premium interior mesh, YKK zippers, 360° Hinomoto double-wheel spinners, and a leather luggage tag. 

Oak + Fort

A CONVERSATION WITH @URBANXKOI | #OFTAKEOVER

This week, we invited Koi, the creative mind behind @urbanxkoi based out of New York City to takeover our @OakandFort Instagram account in our #OFTakeover series. We were mesmerized by her carefully curated feed that encapsulates the beauty in every day moments. She uses her surroundings as the perfect backdrop to her subjects; creating a contrast between colour and textures. We had the opportunity to learn more about Koi and we are excited to share with you her story accompanied by her own snapshots. — Lauren


Emphasising the synthesis of art and life, Oak + Fort curates wearable collections with an appreciation for culture, creativity, and community. Living as leaders and visionaries, their mission is to provide quality apparel and be the catalyst for exploration and new innovations. 

I fell in love with Oak + Fort since their launch in NYC and was intrigued to discover that it is a Canadian brand with a Korean-inspired touch. Their aesthetic is minimal, modern, and aligns with my personal style. I have included Oak + Fort in my daily essentials as they can be dressed up or worn casually. Admittedly, I have been wearing their pieces to work at the lab as well as on weekend nights out. 

In my recent interview with Oak + Fort, I reveal the meaning of my name, Urban Koi, as well as my aesthetic and a bit about my life in NYC.

For the full interview, please visit the Oak + Fort Blog


Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where does the inspiration behind Urban Koi come from, and how did you come up with the name?

I am an art director, photographer, and scientist at Columbia University Medical Center.

I have always had a deep fondness for art and science. I am often asked how I balance two seemingly different fields. Although art and medicine are two distinct fields, I feel that they are more interconnected than one would think. When one formulates an experiment or treats a patient, one must be creative and critically think of the best solution—each project and each individual is unique and may require a spectrum of methods.

Urban Koi encapsulates two meanings.

The first is literal and depicts a koi fish dwelling in the urban sea. Much of my childhood upbringing is rooted in Brooklyn and I feel a deep connection to New York City. It is said that koi swim up rivers and climb waterfalls with bravery like samurai warriors. Hence, the koi symbolises courage, perseverance, and strong character. These elements are reflective of my life and are what I value as a person.

‘Koi’ is also a Japanese homophone for ‘love’, and alludes to the second meaning—my adoration for cities. All of these elements percolate into my work—the moody, sort of gritty urban textures, but portrayed in a softer, subtler way.

Your Instagram is filled with minimal, muted tones. What is it about this style appeals to you?

There is a certain tranquil feeling that is exuded when I am surrounded by quiet colours—I find muted tones to be mysterious, yet soothing. The hues of the sky at the break of dawn, the cerulean reflection that is illuminated by water—the ambience and mystifying essence of melancholic tones in nature lull me into deep reveries. I am also drawn to shadows and the scarcity of light, so my work tends to emanate a dark, moody timbre.

What are some of your favourite spots in the city to escape to and draw inspiration from?

I often escape to DUMBO, Brooklyn. I am enamoured by the abandoned industrial factories, cobblestone streets, and old train tracks—there is just so much history contained in its heart. I often take walks by Brooklyn Bridge Park, sample fare, and explore little shops. One of my favourites is Shibui, a Japanese antique shop hidden underground. It really feels like a brief step into Japan. I also frequent the rooftop lounge at the Wythe with close friends for a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. I love Greecologies, a Greek yoghurt lab and café in Little Italy—I am decidedly keen with their menu, interior design, and lush courtyard. Lastly, I adore The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as I am particularly fond of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It explores the wonders of medieval Europe through its art, gardens, and architecture.

As a photographer, which moments do you like to capture the most?

Photography is my catharsis—I am inspired when I travel and I delve into a multiplicity of cultures. I am enticed by wistfulness, minimalism, and idiosyncrasies—the harmony of symmetry and asymmetry in life. I tend to photograph moments that we sometimes take for granted. I see the quiescent beauty around me and I like to capture the transient moments to show others that there is elegance everywhere, even in the ordinary.

How do you stay connected with the creative community in New York? 

Ever since I was a child, I have been remarkably shy about showcasing my work to others. Instagram made it easier for me to share my daily musings, and through the platform, I found it thrilling to learn that there are other passionate creatives all over the world. From its inception, I found myself connecting with a vast multitude of creative talents—I even bonded with my best friend, Louise (@glassfauna), over our mutual interests in photography and science, and we have been communicating daily ever since. 

Nixon Time Teller

I have a penchant for men's watches and while I was looking for a new one, I stumbled upon the Nixon Original Design—the Time Teller. I was aiming for a design that was simple, understated, yet exuded undeniable character, and this watch bears an unpretentious, yet versatile style—perfect for my travels. My favourite aspect of this watch would be the bold black face in contrast to the stainless steel fixed bezel, hardened mineral crystal, and triple gasket stainless steel crown. I look very much forward to wearing it on my new adventure. 

MOVEMENT: Miyota Japanese quartz 3 hand.
DIAL: The dial includes applied indices, and custom molded hands.

CASE: 37 mm, 100 meter / 10 ATM , custom solid stainless steel case, solid stainless steel fixed bezel, hardened mineral crystal, triple gasket stainless steel crown, stainless steel screw down caseback and spring pin lugs.
BAND: 19.5-18 mm tapered custom 5 link stainless steel jewelry style bracelet (or leather/canvas) and stainless steel locking clasp.

Skincare Favourites

Although I rarely use makeup, I am quite keen on skincare. Presented here are a few favourite moisturising products that I use on a daily basis and carry with me on my travels. Most of my skincare is from the STELL, a fantastic curation of quality products so one may sample from different brands.

MULTI-USE OIL - NO. 2

This oil is a blend of forget-me-not, peach blossom, and mandarin green tea enriched with apricot, sweet almond oils, and Vitamin D, accented with beautifully preserved flowers. I use this oil to keep my bleached hair healthy and just one drop instantly restores moisture in my driest skin. 

SOUL SUNDAY BOUGIE LITE FACIAL OIL + RICE WATER (the STELL)

The facial oil was created from red raspberry seed and contains high levels of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which replenish and soften skin. Squalane, a plant-based emollient, very similar to skin's natural lipids that decrease with age, helps create a balance of moisture and a light, protective barrier. Essential oils of geranium flower and sandalwood promote skin clarity and balance. The refreshing rice water was carefully combined with brightening Vitamin C, Bulgarian rose, and soothing cucumber; I typically use the rice water after I shower or to freshen up mid-day. 

BYREDO BLANCHE HAND CREAM

This is my favourite hand cream of all time. It travels with me everywhere I go, whether it is in my uni backpack or camera bag. It is deeply moisturising without a greasy residue. Top notes: aldehyde, pink pepper, white rose. Heart notes: neroli, peony, violet. Base notes: blonde woods, musk, sandalwood. 

GROWN ALCHEMIST SWEET ALMOND + SAGE HAND CREAM
(the STELL)

This is another one of my essentials, which bears a unique hydrating and potent formula that consists of tyrosinase inhibitors from the rumex plant, phyto-peptides, sweet almond oil, Vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6, which visibly reduces sun damage pigmentation and redensifies thinning skin. As a scientist, I took great delight in this detail. 

GROWN ALCHEMIST CAMELIA + GERANIUM BLOSSOM HYDRA-REPAIR DAY CREAM (the STELL)

This is a non-greasy, nourishing facial moisturiser that contains camellia and rosehip essence with aloe vera and jojoba oil. I adore its scent and I use this cream on my face daily. It doubles as a rich body cream, and as you know already, I am highly pragmatic and love multi-functional products. 

L:A BRUKET NO. 102 BERGAMOT + PATCHOULI HAND CREAM
(the STELL)

This was my first product from the Norwegian natural skincare company based in Varberg, a coastal spa town in Sweden well-known for it's 200 year old traditions of bathing in saltwater and seaweed, and I was not disappointed. The essential oils in the cream have astringent, cleansing properties, and a slight antiseptic effect, which helps treat extremely dry skin. Meadowfoam is astringent, nourishing, and rich in Omega-6 and 9 fatty acids. Comfrey is also astringent, moisturising, and known to heal small scratches and sunburn as well.

AĒSOP REVERENCE AROMATIQUE HAND BALM

This balm contains bergamot rind, vetiver root, petitgrain botanicals, and skin-softening emollients that deliver rich hydration to the hands and cuticles. It is enhanced with skin-softening Potassium Lactate and Lactic Acid for sustained hydration. Its scent is a bit strong for me, so I typically use this balm for my feet and it works wonderfully.

UK Highlights

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” — Gustave Flaubert

Travel Favourites

With parents who speak contrasting languages and a family tree diverse in ethnicities, I was brought up open-minded, accepting of all cultures, and I have learned to embrace my multicultural heritage. From linguistics to cuisine to fashion to lifestyle habits—it is all incredibly fascinating to me. So, I am onto my next adventure—I am returning to the UK for study abroad to delve deeper into my British family history. Although this is not my first time travelling overseas, it is my first time studying abroad and I am excited to be exploring Manchester, Leeds, and more of London—to name a few cities.

I am a light packer as I value functionality and practicality, so I typically do not bring any luggage that needs to be checked. Most of the time, I bring a roomy carry-on duffel or capacious backpack and a camera bag (which bears ample pockets for toiletries) and utilise military-style packing. Anything else that may be found, provided, or easily purchased abroad if needed, I leave behind. Displayed here are some travel favourites.

Gypsy Water + Blanche Hand Cream: Byredo | Travel Kit: Aesop | Charcoal Bristle Bamboo Toothbrush: Ernest | Void Watch: Anekdote | Leather Gloves: Coach | Button-down: Korean Boutique in NYC | Flats: ASKA | Boots: UNIF | Bow Ties: Topman | Waterproof Clutch + Drypack: Vicious Venom