As a second year law student at Loyola Law School, Teddy Nguyen's workspace is reflective of his true genius - he does a great job at linking law to life. Here is a brief look into what inspires his life of books, brains, and barrister.
What do you consider your official line of creative work?
When I first saw this question, I had to take a break and leave to do something else. I needed some time to really think about what my official “line” of work was…because quite honestly I don’t know what my line of work is. Ever since I was kid I was dabbling in all sorts of ideas. I don’t want to say that I’m a dreamer because I think that term is used very loosely and it could very well just mean that I sleep a lot. But I’m definitely a guy who lives his life with an open heart.
I’ve been a photographer for all sorts of random projects, I’ve written a bunch of things for people and websites, I’ve sat as video blogger for a friend, I was a part-time researcher trying to understand the flawed incarceration system of America, I’ve dedicated hundreds of hours as an advocate for LGBT rights, I’ve started and deleted so many blogs, I’m in law school dabbling in the idea of becoming a brand builder, and now I’m a teaching assistant for a healthcare class at some college.
As you can see, I don’t really have an answer to this question because the thing I’ve learned from my experiences is to be as flexible and open minded as possible. So I typically avoid the rigidity of labeling myself. The one thing, however, that has always been true about all of my experiences is that creativity transcends everything; maybe in different ways but creativity was always there.
What do you draw vision from when it comes to creating an inspiring environment for you?
I draw inspiration, literally, from everything. When you think of a child, you think that child is vulnerable to everything - it just soaks up everything it sees. For this reason, we spend so much time trying to protect children from undue influences. I don’t think, however, this natural instinct ever stops. Even as adults, our brains are like sponges; we soak up everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And whether we like it or not, everything that we’ve ever been exposed has shaped our taste and has inspired us.
So I guess to answer your question, I draw my vision from the last 25 years and something months of being alive. I’m inspired by my friends, by the things I see on the internet, by my family, by books, by color, by walking the streets of Downtown Los Angeles, I’m inspired by everything.
I think when I was envisioning my workspace, I allowed myself to be vulnerable to all the things that could inspire me. I didn’t limit myself to what I thought I should be or what I thought was pretty. I didn’t want to stifle my own creativity. Ralph Waldo Emerson said something a long time ago that has been words that I’ve stuck by. He said, “Every man is superior than me in some way, and in that way I learn from every man.” I think it speaks to being opened minded to everything because there’s something to learn in everyone and everything. So when I’m creating my workspace, I’m inspired from a life of eclectic experiences that I’ve consciously made an effort to be open to. So if you look throughout my loft, you will find colors schemes, pieces of furniture, photos, and knick-knacks that have been inspired by one of my life experiences. It could be something as simple as a page I saw in a magazine to something that reminds me of my childhood.
I think there’s a simple-minded approach to creativity. Just because you’re looking at a cookbook, doesn’t mean the only good thing you can do with that is to learn a good recipe. You’d be surprised if you just kept an open heart. A cookbook can inspire the color pallet of your home, the typography could inspire your handwriting, it could inspire the next place you go out to dinner, and the photos can inspire the composition of your next Instagram. There’s something useful in everything. As my mother would say, “just open your eyes.”
What does your workspace say about you?
My workspace is simple. My desk has no drawers so I only keep the most important things around, but strewn about my loft are random books, papers, notes from friends, and photos. My desk is in the main living room; it’s the focal point of my entire loft and everything else was designed around my desk. All of this, if my walls could talk, hopefully speaks to my dedication to work - whatever it may be at the moment. It speaks of a person who strives to keep a clear space and mind, but also someone who has an appreciation for minor details. If not that, at the very least, it speaks of someone who sure knows how to navigate Ikea and the flea market.
What can you not live without on your desk?
There’s something un-poetic about this answer, but I can’t live without my laptop. The artist in me wants to say that my sketchpad and pastels are the most important things, but the truth is that my laptop is of absolute importance. It’s where I pour out my ideas, and search for inspiration. It’s how I stay connected with the people that inspire me. I just can’t live without it.
What can people expect when visiting your workspace?
Well the first thing you can expect when visiting my workspace is a hot latté. It’s always one of the first things I offer. Aside from that, people should expect to enter a place that is motivating. If anything at all, I hope people can expect to feel inspired to go home and create a workspace that inspires them as well.
What is your theory of place as far as creative workspace?
This is my theory of place: if you can create a workspace that constantly inspires you, you will never have to leave. Don’t limit to yourself to filling your space with only superficial beauty, fill your space with laughter, love, friends, and family. Create a place that is not only visually appealing but a place that is emotionally appealing as well. Draw from all of your experiences and be open to new ones. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish by an inspiring workspace.