We had the good fortune of connecting with Catherine Nakajima and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Catherine, why did you pursue a creative career?
I thought that pursuing a creative career would give me the opportunity to bridge gaps, whether it be between different cultures, perspectives, or ways of living. I’ve always been intrigued by the relationships between ourselves and the spaces around us, and knew that with whatever work I did, I wanted to express ideas in a spatial and visual way. Creativity feeds an innate impulse to create order out of chaos by assigning meaning to things found in our surroundings; it’s a form of communication that has the power to make people feel like they have a place in the world.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

Nakajeem, my interior design and hospitality consultancy, is what keeps me busy lately. Through Nakajeem, I do interior design consulting, interior styling, sourcing and procurement, art consulting, and hospitality consulting. I believe in designing for longevity and human scale, and that the experiences we have in certain spaces impact us in deep-rooted ways we don’t even realize. I created Nakajeem so that I could tap into the psychology behind this relationship in order to create spaces that provide comfort, warmth, familiarity, excitement, and excellent hospitality. 
I think that because I was taught to question everything and develop my own ways of thinking, I took a less traditional path to becoming an interior designer. I’m glad I got to study and work in other realms–like hospitality, event production, graphic design, and art direction–before moving onto interior design, because those experiences would ultimately add value to my work. I may not have known this at the time, but every job I had equipped me with skills that were useful for the next. 

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d start by taking my friend to my favorite neighborhood breakfast/lunch spot to get their shiitake scrambled eggs with their signature salad, followed by a sunset hike through Elysian Park.

LA and greater LA is blessed with great diversity in food options; we’d do a dinner in Thai Town one night, and another day we’d go down to Santa Ana to get Vietnamese food, or to San Gabriel Valley for dim sum. Messob in Little Ethiopia is another fun spot. We also might go to Sonoratown for their chicken Chivichangas.

Another day could be a gallery/museum day. My favorite gallery here is Sage Culture, located near the Arts District. They have such integrity in their vision and so much passion for the artists they represent. I love how most of the works they feature are conceptually rooted in nature and use natural materials in fascinating ways. Pio Pico, Tanya Bonakdar, Roberts Projects, CAAM, and some galleries in Chinatown would be the next stops.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My step-grandmother saw that I enjoyed arts and crafts at an early age and took the initiative to give me lessons on specific things like making ornaments out of homemade dough or making 3D collages out of photographs and found materials. These lessons really stuck with me and taught me how to turn anything into an art project.

I feel lucky to have gone to a school that encouraged me to pursue creative endeavors, and to have parents who supported me in finding a path that would make me happy. I’m grateful for the teachers and professors who believed in me and encouraged me to keep finding my own ways of doing things.

Website: www.nakajeem.com

Instagram: @nakajeem

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-nakajima-2687353b/

Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/cathnaka

Image Credits
Asato Iida, Elizabeth Carababas, Johnny Le

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