In our offices, dozens of different countries are represented. After 30 years in
the business, we’ve seen how cultural diversity has created many modified perspectives on life, taste, and design. It creates a special dynamic and gives you more information and experiences to feed from. I find in America we define people far too simply, and they are much more complex than that. Differences should
be celebrated and not lost.
It is not well known, but the largest immigration wave in the history of the United States occurred between 1965 and 2001. This, of course, is just an entry point to the much larger story of global migrations that defined the 20th Century. By the millennium, the tributaries feeding this flow of peoples across international boundaries had become truly global—both in origin and its destination.
As in any story, this is multifaceted, there exist numerous frameworks seemingly well-suited to offer analysis, critique, and explanation. These are then distilled into a shorthand which is easily transmitted across media platforms and traded between cultural commentators.
“Third culture kid,” first appeared in the research of John and Ruth Useem in the 1950s, to describe “children who accompany their parents to another society.” In the intervening 70 years—especially in metropolitan areas—this term has taken on a far less academic meaning.
Today, it includes the rich texture of our lives and the stories of friends, family, and colleagues. For this photo story, we wanted to shine a light on some of these individuals within our tribe, and see the world through their eyes.
1 Where were you born?
2 Where are you from?
3 How do you define home?
4 What elements of your global upbringing
are visible in your home?
5 Where to next?
Toronto; it’s easier than trying to explain why I don’t live in the UK or how I got to be in Toronto given that my parents are from Poland and I’ve lived in Toronto for 30+ years.
The place where your heart is happiest.
Not very much.
Hadn’t really thought about it; perhaps to the West Coast (Vancouver) to visit with friends.
Where my family is.
“Everything is political,” someone important once said. Everything we touch, the spaces we dwell in, all come from a political place. Being born in Iran in an upper middle class family and having the opportunity to move to Canada during the regime change, my family had no choice but to adapt to the norms of Western culture. My appreciation for the past and global outlook has shaped my contemporary view of design today. My interests lay in international style in architecture and a minimal aesthetic. I also don’t like to keep “things” around unless they hold some sort of emotional value, like a photo. I’m not ready to buy big ticket items or tchotchkes because the fear of packing and moving too many “things” again is too overwhelming. Travel light and travel often.
Maybe back to Europe, maybe Hawaii…maybe back to Toronto.
(Mehmet Emir Dogan)
Newport, Rhode Island
Although I was born in the US, I was brought up in Istanbul, Turkey. I generally say I am Turkish and that I have lived in the US since high school.
For me, home has always been where my family is.
I went to international school and from traveling and visiting many diverse friends I always brought back souvenirs, usually artwork, most of which are all over my home. For example, when I was 9 I had started a Hard Rock pin collection, and I have a canvas on my corridor wall with all these pins from all over the world, all designed to celebrate a specific city or cultural festivity.
I am pushing South America. I have never been!
(Julian Paulo Rodrigues)
People ask me all the time where I’m from. I guess I don’t sound or look Canadian, soI always say I’m from Toronto. Then I explain to them how my parents are from Portugal and Brazil. I’ve traveled to Portugal so much growing up that I call it my second home.
Home is a feeling. It’s not a building or place. It is a part of you.
I feel like I have a greater appreciation for color and texture then most people. I would love to paint my house yellow or blue like they do in Portugal with the clay shingle roofs. I appreciate when materials like concrete are used for walls or floors like you see in Brazil. I also have a slightly more eclectic pottery collection, all handmade, and a lot of wool blankets.
I want to keep traveling and experiencing other cultures. There is so much you can learn from how other people do things.
Canadian, but when people have a confused look, I’ll mention that my parents are from Hong Kong.
Wherever my family and close friends are.
I’ve moved quite a lot over the years, so I try to keep my home pretty minimal. However, I do love collecting meaningful objects. There’s a set of chopsticks I’ve had since childhood with my Chinese name engraved on it, I’ve carried this everywhere with me from place-to-place.
I look forward to doing more travelling with my other half. I have a bucket list that I’m looking to fulfill, which includes getting my moto license soon. Yay, baby!
Hong Kong, it’s a tiny compact island. Have you been?
Home is where familiarity, connection, and natural instinct happens. I get a weird time shift whenever I visit Hong Kong, like I never left the city, even after years. Wait, it could be jet lag. Haha! Also, a place I buy flowers for.
Appreciation of timeless and modern design. I have two roommates, both Italian. So many of the objects in my house are inspired by our collective multiculturalism. It’s interesting to see how both our Canadian upbringing and our own backgrounds have formed us. The food we eat and share: our pantries, utensils, and cookware play different roles. One thing I find very universal is the love for nature: gardens, parks, and the beach. Home, doesn’t necessarily mean the house I live in, the room I wake in, or the table where I eat. Home is the expansive environment and people I can connect with. I am very attracted to large bodies of water... And anywhere I go, if I am by water, it triggers specific reminders of home. The harbour in Hong Kong; Lake Ontario; the time I was in Cinque Terre, Italy when I was with my “Italy family.” Sometimes, I even feel attached to specific moments. They are not always warm and fuzzy either haha!
Continue to chase the possibility of what home is to me. Specifics for this year: Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and some backcountry parts of Canada.
Home would be the house in France where my parents live and where I lived as a teenager.
Since I have always moved around a lot, I tend not to invest too much in furniture and decoration.
One day, probably back to Europe.
I always answer Mexican. I figured if they are asking, American is not sufficient, although I’m not [I am?] an American citizen. So it’s complicated. Life is a hyphen of sorts.
A place to drink, smoke, and cook with someone you love, but it also needs to be a quiet place for me to read, work, and clear my mind.
I tend to like the rougher things in life, things with grime and a little earth. I also love color of all sorts. I grew up in a rural town where there was color everywhere you turned. The light was bright and there was an awkwardness and warmth to the aesthetics of everything. An earthy clay coffee cup on top of a bold-colored, worn-out, rusted tin table sums it up.
I would like to return to Guadalajara again to work. I would love to paint in a large format again and be inspired by the city. There is a dark romance to it and the food is amazing!
I say I’m from Toronto, but my mom is from Scotland, dad from the Philippines. (I’ve been to Scotland five times and the Philippines three times, including going to school there for 1.5 years.)
Home is where the heart is. Doesn’t matter where I am.
All three cultures (Canadian, Filipino, and Scottish) are visible in my upbringing. Have a strong connection to the Filipino community (and love the food—I know how to cook it as well!). I visit Scotland every two years.
Wherever the wind takes me. Love living in Toronto. I feel safe and at home here. Will travel to as many places as I can. (Would love to go to Germany, as that is part of my heritage as well.) Pursuing getting my UK passport; might take advantage of working in Europe one day.
(Samer Basel Shaath)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Where I grew up and where my family lives, even though I haven’t lived there in over a decade.
Mostly small items with sentimental value like my jewelry and small collectables.
Toronto is it for me.
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Jul 20, 2017
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