Designs that Matter

Abe Vu May 5, 2010 5

Nin Truong from Philip Thangsombat on Vimeo.

Nin Truong poses in one of his businesses, Cafe Weekend, in the Central District. In the back is his design studio, WKND. Photo credit: Abraham Vu.

Nin Truong is just like any Seattleite — he loves his coffee, spending time outdoors, and indulging in the arts. Having worked for several design studios in Seattle, he realized a typical job wasn’t suited for him. He set out to pursue his own line of work and ventured into the realm of entrepreneurship. Truong elaborates on his experience.

“I was inspired to do some of my own things, find my own direction, and carve out my own niche”.

Located behind Rainer Ave in the Central District, Truong’s coffee shop, Café Weekend, is built below the Hiawatha Artist Lofts and provides a coffee shop for the community and the surrounding neighborhoods. In the back is the headquarters for his design studio WKND.

When asked how he came up with the name for his design studio, Truong explains, “A lot of people do what they love and the things they’re most passionate about as hobbies on the weekend. We essentially do that every single day and it was just appropriate to name our studio, WKND.” Encompassing the many facets of design, WKND design is immersed in branding, graphic design, interior design, public art, landscape architecture, and apparel.

Being no stranger to the fashion world, Truong has worked with brands like Nike, Stussy, and Timberland. He’s also the creative director behind Goods boutique, Seattle Skateboarding brand Manik, and his very own apparel line, “Maiden Noir”. With the current release of his tenth season, Maiden Noir is Truong’s venture into the fashion world. As a brand, Maiden Noir is a little dark with a subtle undertone of a sub-culture theme. Each season is complemented with an intricate story that intertwines each garment for a cohesive collection. Truong’s other foray into the American market is with BLK Pine Workshop, a brand that revolves around luggage all “Made in the USA”, with a theme of the vintage “Gold Rush” era in the Northwest. Everything is made domestically. “We’re trying to keep to the idea that we can essentially re-contribute back to our community with this bag line that is sold around the world,” said Truong.

An inspirational mural designed by Nin Truong displayed in front of the Greenbridge Community Center in White Center. Photo credit: Philip Thangsombat.

Truong has contributed several public art and design pieces that can be seen throughout the city and in the King County area. With words of “never lose hope” and “support” as a notion of inspiration, an art piece was designed and displayed in front of the King County Juvenile Detention Center. The new mixed-income community of Greenbridge, in White Center, is the home of another inspirational piece made for the city. This piece conveys a message of “family”, “education”, and “encouragement”, that’s proudly displayed in the front of the new Greenbridge Community Center.

Having skateboarded as a youth, Truong also designed the Burien skate park for youth as an outlet for their personal expression.

Being inspired to study landscape architecture by Richard Haag, the landscape architect responsible for Gas Works Park in Seattle, Truong takes his love for design and transitions into teaching landscape arcitecture at the University of Washington.

“I’m constantly looking, researching, exploring and learning about myself that teaching becomes an extension of it,” says Truong. Truong teaches the Introductory to Landscape Architecture course, several design-build classes, large-scale and small-scale construction design classes, and the public art class in the arts department. Next fall, he is set to teach the cultural design studio based in the International District, with the goal of presenting a plan to the city on how and where to build a park for the Little Saigon community.

Ignored for some time and taken over by drug users for illicit activities, King County asked Truong’s design-build class to clean up and redesign the Skyway Park in Seattle. The resulting redesign included a community gathering area with a living ‘green’ rooftop, an educational facility explicating the surrounding, and low-water tolerance plants. Since its resurrection, the site has been readopted by the neighborhood and used as a sanctuary for outdoor activities.

It’s undeniable that Truong’s commitment to the community exudes through all his endeavors and business ventures. “Working on a community level, there’s an immediate effect that happens. You’re affecting the people around you on a local level. That’s one of the things that was ingrained in us through working in landscape architecture and seeing that side of things.”

Despite common hardships Truong has faced as an entrepreneur, his optimism and resilience overcame the adversities that stood in his way of achieving his dreams. When asked what advice he would give to someone attempting to carve out their own path toward their dreams, he replied, “If you are really inspired by what you do and you put forth your energy and you can showcase that to other people, you get out of it what you put into it.”

  • Carlos

    Wow…great article on a true local gem. Really enjoyed the video too!

  • Goof

    Great piece!!!

  • SF Cuz Adr4bax

    Nice article. The author here has potential.

  • http://www.overhaulmedia.com Matt

    Very inspiring and loving the line.

  • landscraper

    big-ups for skyway park