We’ve had the good fortune of connecting with Larry Nguyen & Wendy Tuan of LA-based Outfit Branding & Design and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Larry & Wendy, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Art and creativity are important parts of our identities, not just as professionals, but fundamentally as people. We both have been quite interested in the arts since childhood, and studied creative fields in college. This passion and love for creative work have been the driving force for our careers and why we started (our studio) Outfit Branding & Design. The inherent quality and process of design — creation, problem-solving, expression, communication — these present a myriad of exciting challenges that make our work fun, interesting, and meaningful. Because no two projects are exactly alike, we continue to grow, evolve and learn as creatives. We also find great joy in seeing our work help clients find their voice, and to see our ideas become manifested tangibly, whether it be a logo, packaging design, a website, or in a retail space. It gives us an enormous sense of purpose to see our work live on in different touchpoints, as if we are leaving a kind of legacy. Creativity is one element that defines our humanity, and something that enriches the world in its celebration of seeing things differently.
What should our readers know about your business?
Our studio Outfit Branding & Design is a Los Angeles-based, husband and wife team with a combined over 26 years of design experience. With backgrounds in branding, illustration, creative direction, graphic design and fashion, what sets us apart is our approach: a potent mix of contemporary visual appeal and detailed, effective strategy supported by bespoke, personalized service. We’ve been featured on The Dieline, Brand New and Behance, and are set to be in a couple books next year from gestalten Verlag and Hoaki Books. Our current success is the result of that old adage: “work hard and be kind.” Our philosophy as designers is to continually put our passion and love into every project, and this means sometimes working long hours, and going the extra mile—which is not easy. However, we think this drive to continually push ourselves as creatives is what has allowed us to grow and improve. The “be kind” part is important because it exemplifies what we’d ideally like to see in business culture: being collaborative, supportive, yet professional and pleasant to work with. We overcame many challenges by taking our shortcomings and making them into lessons to seek better ways of improving our business and our capabilities. This can be said in another famous, yet true phrase: “You don’t learn from success. You learn from failure.” We certainly have had projects that didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to, but in the end we look back at these events and are grateful for the lessons they taught us. This kind of thinking is key to achieving success because it allows us to move beyond past challenges and focus on the constructive, growth aspects that can be gleaned from those situations. Designers in general can be a little sensitive, so we see this as a more positive way to metabolize negativity into something productive. We are just two creatives with international backgrounds and deep experience on a mission to spread good design to make the world not only more beautiful, but more collaborative, understanding, and authentic.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles has always been a kind of “city of secrets”: on the surface, you see a lot of the cliché palm tree-lined, Hollywood version. However, as you dig deeper, you start to uncover enclaves of amazing culture— a multi-faceted embroidery of diverse histories and people. Here’s a little list of places we love (mostly food haha): Genwa Korean BBQ in Koreatown: This gem of a spot has some of the most exquisite Korean bbq in LA, with excellent service, and long wait times. It distinguishes itself by not being AYCE, so the quality of meat is very high. It’s also really well-ventilated somehow, so you’ll never leave smelling like smoked meat. Zacatecas in Hawthorne: This unassuming, diner-style restaurant in a strip mall has some of the best Mexican seafood in the city. Also, their horchata is super good. Wurstküche in DTLA: Every person we’ve taken here is always delighted not just by the curated list of sausages made from exotic meats (rattlesnake, anyone?), but also the incredible interior that sneaks up on you as you enter from the front of the restaurant. Throw in a huge selection of import beers, and a live DJ, and it’s always a great and memorable time. Don’t forget the truffle fries as well! Surprisingly, we found out about this place from Wendy’s dad, who discovered it from a local Chinese language newspaper. Raffi’s Place in Glendale: One of the best Persian kebab places in LA. Get the Soltani Beef — it’s perfectly juicy and smoky. You MUST, we repeat, you MUST get the yogurt and shallot dip Mast Moosir. It’s so addictive, you’ll put it on everything. Any taco stand on the street: It doesn’t get any more LA than this. The best chimichanga we’ve ever eaten was from a random taco truck at the old American Apparel factory. Street tacos are part of LA culture. Period. Bestia in DTLA. If you’re an Angeleno, this is no surprise, but if you’re from out of town, this somewhat hidden, culinary beacon of unbelievably delicious Italian dishes is a must-visit. There have been very few transformative food moments in our lives, and the first bite of their roasted bone-marrow spinach gnocchetti is one of them. The owners are also a husband and wife team like us, and Ori Menashe was a former chef at another LA staple, Angelini — where we went on the night of our engagement. The Broad in DTLA (when it reopens): As creatives, we would be remiss if we didn’t drag our non-creative friends to this incredible museum. The collection and exhibits here always give us a “creative inspiration reup” and as a piece of architecture, it’s utterly awe-inspiring. The Griffith Observatory (when it reopens): This is now famous because of a certain Ryan Gosling film, but for years we’ve made this the last stop when giving our friends a tour of LA. It’s not as flashy as other landmarks of LA, but it has the educational, wholesome vibe, spectacular views, and (when it’s not busy) sense of respite sometimes needed in a sprawling city like Los Angeles. This is the actual place we got engaged.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are too many people to name that have supported us throughout our careers, but it’s mostly our families who have always fostered our love for creative work. Our parents are immigrants, and our work ethic, dedication and ambition all stem from their inspiration, sacrifices and guidance.
Sol Water photo by Harper Point Photography.