Friday Five with Dan Kwan of Wilson Associates

Hong Kong-native Dan Kwan is the Chief Creative Officer of the Americas at Wilson Associates, a global architectural interior design firm with 10 international offices. The Manhattan-based Kwan is known for thinking and living way outside the box bringing his unique sensibilities to hospitality projects much in need of a quirky and forward-thinking innovation. His projects run the gamut, from the Venezuelan-inspired Chica restaurant at the Venetian Las Vegas for Top Chef Masters chef, Lorena Garcia, to the Aila restaurant at Fairmont Quasar Istanbul with its Turkish influences, and the perfectly circular Le Lapin, a French eatery inside I.M. Pei’s Macao Science Center. Alongside his regular position at Wilson Associates, he’s also the Executive Director of their food and beverage design lab, Blueplate. When he’s not designing, he’s exploring all the nooks and crannies New York City has to offer, or he’s blazing a trail through Asia and other spots where his multilingual skills come in handy. (PS. He speaks 4 languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Baha Indonesian). This week’s Friday Five features some of Kwan’s favorite things and must-haves.

Artwork by Bart Massee, courtesy of Medium

1. iPad Pro, Apple Pro and Concepts app
As a designer, nothing beats this for paperless creativity. The iPad Pro and Pencil have revolutionized how designers draw, and it feels just like paper. Coupled with concepts, it’s old school meets the integrated world. This app is the bomb!

2. Tang Dynasty Poet: Du Fu
This ancient Chinese poet is so beloved by modernity that his portrait has spawned a host of modern memes. Recent doodles made him a superstar, and I don’t think he would mind. His words invoke such emotion and the human condition, that you could pen a rap to. The original haiku master. Inspiration is timeless.

My favorite poem is:
‘The moon’s reflected on the river a few feet away,
A lantern shines in the night near the third watch.
On the sand, egrets sleep, peacefully curled together,
Behind the boat I hear the splash of jumping fish.’

Nuff said and no, it’s not pronounced Tofu.

3. My LeTom Straw Hat
Ironically, it’s called the ‘Singapore Sling’ hat where I’m from. It’s been everywhere with me; it’s been crushed; it’s been beaten; it’s flown off my head and into a busy street below, it’s seen everything I’ve seen. And I still look good in it.

Photo by Natalie Chitwood, courtesy And North

4. Andes, New York
This is my secret getaway. A small hamlet nestled in the Catskills with no cell phone service, friendly people, and most of all, like Erykah Badu says, “peace, peace, peace, peace, peace.”

5. My puppy Po
She defines “man’s best friend” and she’s always with me. Po’s a sweetie. I bring her with me to the office and everyone loves her.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.