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Designers We Love: Cathie Hong

By Eimy Figueroa

On the journal today we have designer Cathie Hong walking us through her latest interior design projects featuring MINNA. We also learn her favorite way to instantly elevate any space, the best piece of advice she’s ever received and, of course, her design process.
Journal | #MINNAatHome

Designers we Love

Designers We Love: Cathie Hong

What’s your name & what are your pronouns?

CATHIE: My name is Cathie Hong (she/her). I’m a Korean-American interior designer in the Bay Area. Though I’m not formally trained in design, I spent most of my life studying art in different forms, and the past five years since launching my business have been a whirlwind adventure in the best sense! I’m also a mom to four incredible kiddos, each unique and different and gifted in their own way. I spend most of my hours juggling these two roles, which can be exhausting at times, but I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything.

How would you describe your design process?

CATHIE: I always start with a broad design direction for each project. What is the architectural style of the house? What is the homeowner’s personal style? Together with these questions and a thorough understanding of what each client is looking for, I space plan each room and then start developing the elevations and design details that make each project unique. Whether the house is colorful and full of character or muted and minimalist, I think I have a signature design style that presents itself consistently throughout each project.

At MINNA we believe in creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good - how do these concepts relate to or inspire your process?

CATHIE: I really admire MINNA’s business ethos and think that I try to parallel that in how I run my business. Interior design is interesting because, on the surface, it’s about pulling together a beautiful space. However, every project I’ve worked on has been deeply personal as I usually walk closely alongside my clients for a year or more as they undertake one of the most stressful and emotional financial investments of their lives. I try my best to be a calm voice of reason, a cheerleader, an advocate and a friend to each of my clients. On the internal side of the business, I feel strongly about working with good vendors and tradespeople – hardworking, ethical, service-oriented people who are dedicated to their craft. It’s rewarding to be able to keep giving good work to these trusted trades and further strengthen our partnership.

What about the spaces you design makes it feel like home? What is a favorite memory of yours in your home or working as a designer on a project?

CATHIE: I think all of the sentimental furniture piecesartwork, photos and odds and ends make a space feel like home. We recently renovated our home and actually moved back in mid-construction to a very unfinished house. Despite an unfinished kitchen and unfinished floors, we still put up a Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. I still remember sitting on the sofa at night with the Christmas lights twinkling on the tree and feeling happy that it felt like home.

Who or what is your inspiration when tackling your design work?

CATHIE: Some of my favorite designers off the top of my head are Shapeless StudioAnd And And StudioJohn Martine Studio, and Hovey Design. They are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with design, thoughtfully marrying modernism with warmth and whimsy.

What are some of your favorite items that can instantly elevate the design of a space?

CATHIE: I love using ceramics – hand-thrown vases, bowls, and lamps – to instantly add character and warmth to a space. I also love woven elements like parchment light fixtures, textile art, and cane furniture. Lastly, I love to add color and pattern through accent pillows and throw blankets (MINNA is one of our favorite places to source from!).

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

CATHIE: When I was first considering starting my business, I waffled back and forth a lot on whether I should do it. I didn’t have the education, nor the experience, nor did I feel that I had anything particularly special to offer the design world that hadn’t been done before. My husband Steven was apt to point out that there was always room for more people in the industry and that there was nothing to lose by just trying. If I failed, I failed, but I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. He gave me the courage to try, and I’m so happy I did. 

Thanks so much for stopping by, Cathie! if you'd like to follow Cathie's work, check out her website & instagram.

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