Joe: Jessica Walsh, #MambaForever, Grief & Intentions

February 7, 2020

At Aquí, we take our cuppa Joe very seriously. Rest assured, because the same applies when it comes to design. As avid coffee drinkers, we often ask, “How do you like your coffee?” And as a creative boutique, we like to ask, “How do you like your design?” Joe is a blog segment where we - #TeamAquí - share our design inspirations.


Jessica Walsh

On this week’s Girl Boss series, where Maria introduces female figures that inspire her, we have Jessica Walsh, CEO, Founder, Creative Director at &Walsh, or previously - as some of you might recall - Partner of Sagmeister & Walsh. Her company is amongst the 0.1% of creative agencies in the U.S. that are women-owned, which is something that Walsh often highlights to bring attention to the lack of representation in leadership and the pay gap for women and non-binary people.

Maria was reading The Work Diary of Jessica Walsh in The New York Times when she decided she should share about Walsh to the team. As a girl boss herself, Maria finds it really encouraging that there are women in the design industry who support and lift other women to thrive in the creative industry. It is partly the success of these female creatives that inspires others like Maria to not be afraid of taking the lead in the creative world.

When Walsh had started to be more well-known in the industry, there were growing amounts of haters online and she soon realised that most of them were other women. She conducted a social experiment to find out why that was happening and came to the conclusion that, “Maybe some women are competitive and unsupportive of each other unconsciously because our chances of success in the industry are so much slimmer than our male counterparts.” She then formed a non-profit initiative Ladies, Wine & Design to provide a platform for women to lift each other instead of putting each other down.

“Do things that matter, things that will make those better, and things that will make you better.” - Jessica Walsh



Evelyn took the chance to share about Kobe Bryant and his legacy this week. Curious about the Mamba Mentality, she did a bit of research on how it came about.

At one of his lowest points of his career in 2003, Bryant gave himself the nickname “The Black Mamba” to create an alter-ego that is separate from his personal life. It was also a way for Kobe to cope with the difficulty he was facing at that point in time. The black mamba is one of the species of extremely poisonous snakes that Bryant discovered in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill”. It had the tenacity, rigor and fierceness that Bryant could see in himself when he plays.

The birth of the nickname was also the beginning of The Mamba Mentality, which is a mindset that forces you to be unapologetic about the success you are chasing after, and doing whatever it takes to get there. It is about grit, hard work, and skill mastery.

Evelyn read that he woke up at 4.00 am every day in high school so that he could go to the school gym to practice basketball from 5.00 am to 7.00 am. Everyone works hard to get to where they are, but Bryant found a way to use his influence and share his methods with his audience.

“This mindset is very obvious but it’s not commonly practised. Like we all know what it takes to achieve something but we just don’t have the right mindset to do it,” Evelyn says.

“I heard this saying that you can tell what someone will become based on what they do on the weekends,” Akram added.


Grief knows no age limit

It is hard not to notice brand logos when you are working in a company that does branding design. Akram was walking home one day when he saw the logo for Direct Funeral Services. He thought it was really interesting so he went on his phone to find out who designed the brand identity of this company.

What drew Akram to find out more was the unconventional way of branding a funeral business. Developed by &Larry, the design for Direct Funeral Services comes across as clean and modern but not over the top, maintaining a modest and reliable look and feel which is appropriate for the nature of their business.

Funeral services are just as much for the ones who have passed and for the ones who will remember them. Grief knows no age limit which is why it is important that companies like Direct Funeral Services position themselves in a way that makes them relevant and approachable for people of all ages.

Akram says, “A good design makes the ordinary look extraordinary; the boring interesting.”


Design with Intention

Watching videos on YouTube channel ‘Living Big In A Tiny House’ is one of Yu Ting’s favourite things to do. She was really excited to be showing us the tour of a Studio Apartment designed by architect Douglas Wan. She tells us that it is one of her favourite videos to watch, and explains that it is not just about the design of the apartment but more about the thought process that inspires her.

As seen in the video, Douglas Wan reconstructed the 28sqm space in a way that maximized functionality and utility. He dove into the nitty-gritty of how he did it, but more importantly, he began every explanation by touching on the intent behind every design. To Yu Ting, the articulation of his thought-process was exemplary as it brings you through his design thinking journey with clarity.

Yu Ting says, “A design is only useful when there is intention. Douglas Wan’s house is perfect for him but it might not be for others. Of course, our needs and wants will change from time to time, that’s why it is always important to question our intentions.”

Akram also mentioned that sometimes it is good to have boundaries when it comes to design, which in Douglas Wan’s case is the 28sqm space itself. Boundaries serve as a reminder for designers to avoid having their heads too high up in the clouds or buried beneath the ground.  


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