All posts in Food

Architecture for Dogs goes to New York

Fresh off a successful launch in Tokyo, Architecture for Dogs is about to receive the spotlight once again, this time in New York City at Purina’s Better with Pets Summit on Tuesday, November 19. After packing her bags, AFD co-founder Julia Huang answered some questions about it for us.

What do you know about the conference that you’ll be presenting at in New York?
Not a whole lot, aside from the fact that there are so many subject matter experts with Dr. before their names. But the premise of this Purina-facilitated conference about how our lives are #betterwithpets resonates strongly with me.

In Japan you were involved in a few group discussions. How are you approaching this solo gig?

The good news is the time slot is shorter than the two-hour panel discussion in Japan. The bad news is I don’t know if there is going to be enough time to share the best of Architecture for Dogs: how it came about, what’s happening even as we speak, and what we have in store for the future. But I am going to try to communicate as much as possible Kenya Hara’s vision, how world class architects responded to the challenge, and how the world is responding.
Were there any surprising moments or new realizations in Japan that you can share with us?
More like a strong reinforcement of what we knew all along. A lot of people respond strongly to all things dogs and all things architecture.  Combine the two and we basically have a powerful platform for people to communicate with each other.

Any interesting fans of the project that you’ve come across ?
A hip-hop rapper with his dog’s named tatooed on his arm.

Is Renzei going to make the trip to New York?
No, I really wish he could but I don’t think he would take 6-hour cross-country trip very well.

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Long Beach: Work in Progress videos are up


The third and final video from Imprint’s Long Beach: Work in Progress conference was posted last week. We’re very proud of the event’s stellar lineup of friends (from a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer to a banned-in-Japan, Canada, etc. musician) who came out to both dig into our home base’s unique history and subcultures and help cultivate them. These shorts were made to carry their message beyond the historic Edison Theatre and into the streets, as well as convey it to all folks regarding their own towns.

Check out the short film below:

And don’t forget the first two videos with self-explanatory tites, Teaser and A Statement. Please watch, share, and grow your own culture!

Long Beach: Work in Progress videos


To follow up on Imprint’s Long Beach: Work in Progress conference, we’ve been making videos to help spread the message. Not just the culture and upside of our home town but taking the roots of wherever you may live and using them to grow and develop a community with authenticity and originality.

The first video is a teaser of sorts:

The second focuses on the Imprint team and its objective:

Please view, enjoy, let us know what you think, and share. Then keep an eye out for the third and final installment.

Long Beach: Work in Progress


interTrend’s sister company Imprint always explores the most interesting topics: next-level media, up-and-coming technology, the origins of streetwear, architecture for humans and pets. Its upcoming conference will address a topic that is very near and dear and pertinent to both of the businesses.

Anyone who follows our Psychic Temple blog, which details the history, construction, and surrounding culture of interTrend and Imprint’s future creative space, knows that the companies will be moving from a corporate high rise to Downtown Long Beach’s second oldest commercial building. We are not only investing in the neighborhood but visibly changing the landscape and driving local business and accelerating the culture as well.

Long Beach: Work in Progress is part of our efforts to not only be present in the community that we have set our roots in but celebrate and grow it. The conference will revisit the city through the lenses of architecture (authors Cara Mullio and Jennifer M. Volland on Case Study House architect Edward A. Killingsworth), food (Los Angeles Times writer Jonathan Gold), music (members of T.S.O.L., The Vandals, and Dengue Fever), and skateboarding (pro Chad Tim Tim, ex-pro Justin Reynolds, cinematographer Ricki Bedenbaugh, and shoe designer Paul Kwon) and discuss ways that individuals, businesses, and artists can nurture genuine culture, share it, and benefit everyone.

The event will take place one week from today (Friday, April 26) at the historic Edison Theatre and interest not only Long Beach residents but anyone who wants to celebrate and grow their hometowns. Check out the Imprint 2013 webpage for more information as well as a link for ticketing. We hope to see you there.

APA Heritage Month, Multicultural Medals, and More

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. That means libraries have dusted off and displayed their origami tutorials, school cafeterias serve egg rolls, and cable TV has been playing The Joy Luck Club. But seriously it’s nice for us famously quiet Asians to get some attention now and then, even if it’s nominal.

And in that spirit, I appreciate the awards my company interTrend has collected in the field of multicultural advertising. Our wall of fame has actually accumulated quite a lot of bling—very old-school Chinese. Yet the question lingers: How valuable is the hardware if our campaigns never compete with general-market entries?


The notion that multicultural work in advertising should be its own category did not grow in a vacuum. The Grammy Foundation has a “World Music” barrio. The Academy Awards cram all work that is not in English into a couple of “Foreign Language” categories. And for a time, such designations probably helped expose the mainstream to emerging or international cultures and ideas. As a start-up agency targeting Asian markets, we have enjoyed the space and recognition apart from the so-called mass market, too.

But what happens when the agency grows and the masses shift? When exactly does a business like ours, which targets an expansive and coveted audience that is not in the outskirts of society but on the horizon, no longer need to be treated like a child? And when will mass-market clients stop thinking about minorities as an afterthought?


Although our specialty is people from Asia, the culture has absolutely crossed over to the mainstream. The cinematic vocabulary sampled in the Matrix movies, sales of yoga mats in the suburbs, option of Oriental-flavored dipping sauce to go with nugget-shaped chicken at fast-food chains, and Jason Wu at Target—where one culture ends and the other begins isn’t always distinct. Nor does it matter.

For example, the main intention behind using Hatsune Miku (Japan’s “virtual pop star” that predated Coachella’s Tupac projection by years) as the spokesperson for our recent Toyota Corolla campaign was to connect with a youthful, tech savvy, and worldly Asian American audience. And the electric blue-haired anime character did so wildly. Miku’s pieces also attracted attention from the throngs of non-Asian anime otaku in America in addition to her army of fans in Asia.


It’s arguable that a company like interTrend is uniquely enabled to help forward-thinking clients reach a swath of key, difficult-to-reach influencers. From that lens, it’s highly specialized, potent, and timely—anything but ghetto. Smarter clients are realizing that addressing the Asian market is not limited to picking out details from an exotic past, and is more concerned with being aware of the evolving face and tastes of America and the world.

Minorities already made up a third of the U.S. population in 2010. By 2020, it will be half. And it’s not that minority markets are simply outgrowing the proverbial kids’ table. More accurately, we are entering the mainstream, altering it, and creating the cultural equivalent of fusion cuisine. As a result, even Middle America is not only unfazed by its chicken being served with waffles but wants Tapatio and Sriracha sauce on the side.


Yet mainstream clients and advertisers tend to treat the multicultural and general markets as mutually exclusive. Multiculturalism is simply the latest way for them to address “the other” in an exotic manner and keep its distance accordingly. (But not too far to profit from them, as evidenced by micro efforts for major clients by agencies such as OgilvyCulture and Havas Totality.)

Dividing so-called minority markets into smaller units yet grouping them together as a secondary market is statistical slight of hand that doesn’t do justice to the cultures or people that belong to them. It prevents the “others” from being taken seriously, and presumes—correctly or not—that the population at large isn’t ready to change. The U.S. Census states otherwise. In fact, we Asians should see ourselves not only as a rising class in the America but the new worldwide majority.


Multicultural trophies are shiny and neat and having a month in the spotlight isn’t a bad thing. But self-respecting agencies, clients, or human beings needn’t limit themselves in scope or time. May should be seen as an opportunity and a starting point and for Asian American efforts and endeavors, and not a holiday. After all, no one gets to leave the kids’ table without growing up.


Julia Huang is the founder and president of interTrend, an award-winning advertising agency that specializes in connecting Fortune 500 clients with Asians around the world.