From Morocco, to Croatia, to Japan, architectural and landscape designer Fong Wu loves getting lost in foreign cities and finding local eateries along the way. Most recently, she discovered the intriguing flavor of Miang Kham (“one bite wrap”) in Bangkok. Back in Seattle, she enjoys the simple things like walking home from work on the Burke Gilman Trail. In our latest Q&A, Fong tells us more about what inspires her explorations.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture and landscape design? My favorite playground as a kid was a guava tree overlooking a fish pond and seemingly endless rice fields, with mountain silhouettes beyond. This guava tree—my fortress, boat, airplane, spaceship—was the beginning of a wide exploration of “what I want to be when I grow up.” In retrospect, this tree and its surrounding landscape were the building blocks for my strong connection and appreciation for nature. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I ruled out becoming a captain, pilot, or astronaut, but the desire to create spaces that have the atmosphere my guava tree provided became strongly embedded in my psyche.
How does living in the Pacific Northwest inspire you? Seattle is full of beautiful trees and rain. Whether it’s canopy-filtered light or various shapes the rain drops form when hitting different surfaces, this environment activates my senses and inspires me.
Coffee or tea? Both.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? Hayao Miyazaki. Well, that’s kind of cheating because he is very real.
Favorite tool of the trade? My 7”x 9” sketchbooks. When I’m stuck on a problem, I find it helpful to flip through old notebooks. They provide flashbacks of all the courses and studios I’ve taken, ideas, questions, and even a good laugh. It’s a great way to reflect, and depending on the order I go through them, I may connect the dots differently and sometimes arrive at new interpretations.
Favorite movie? All of Studio Ghibli’s films, especially “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.”
What is the best advice you have ever received? Find the time and place that makes your most creative thoughts happen.