When a cool new designer or studio pops up, Jenny Nguyen is often the BTS magic-worker. She's the founder of Hello Human, a PR company that reps some of the design world's best emerging talent. Think: Leah Ring of Another Human, Ladies & Gentlemen, Tantuvi, Studio Proba, Astraeus Clarke. (And if you don't know those names, do yourself a favor and click the links.)
Hello Human feels more collective than corporation. It's "creative publicity for creative people" (the official motto), but it goes deeper. It's "representing the underrepresented," she tells me over a Zoom call from her Lower East Side loft, which appears uncharacteristically bright and airy (for New York standards) from the corners of her screen.
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Part of Jenny's mission is to amplify the voices of BIPOC artisans in the home space. And if you saw all the press about a racist display at this year's Milan Design Week, she was among the few to call it out. (Which, kudos, my friend.)
Which all goes to say: Jenny is "cool girl." And with any cool girl, you need to know what their space looks like. For starters, she scored a gem as far as NYC real estate goes: "A space like this is so rare in Manhattan, with high ceilings and a mezzanine floor," she tells me. "It was once a New York Public School and now houses around 100 units, plus courtyards, and a pool." (A pool? Sigh.)
Predictably, I have to ask her if she has stuff from the amazing designers she reps (she does), and if she has a favorite item. "This is like choosing a preferred child!" she laughs. But there are some standouts: "There's my candle holder from Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, my bubbly ceramic stool from Forma Rosa Studio, my Windsor chairs by the London duo Wilkinson & Rivera, my table lamp by soft-geometry, my side table-cum-coffee table by Jialun Xiong. And there are my minimal Lichen shelves; they are quiet (as shelving should be) and they blend in so well with the apartment."
So, then, what would you call this aesthetic?
"I don't even know how to describe it," Jenny wonders. "I should know this, shouldn't I? How would you describe it?" she asks me.
"Minimal-collected? It has a through-line of modern artisan," I report back. She agrees.
"Yeah, that's exactly true to what it is," she accepts. "It's a mish-mash of things I've picked up along the way. I've never mentally mapped things out with moodboards."
I laugh because we joked earlier about moodboards and who actually uses them to plan their homes. Either you're me, who spends hours digitally piecing a room together; or you're Jenny, who goes with the flow. The space fillers vs. the space finders. Although, neither one is better than the other.
But really, Jenny's interior vibe is about being intentional...in an unplanned way. She doesn't buy just anything: "My husband and I are quite particular about what we introduce into our home. If it doesn't have a place, we try not to buy it." But the things they do purchase must bring value: "The main takeaway is buying to enrich your story of how you live and where you live," she explains.
"The main takeaway is buying to enrich your story of how you live and where you live." — Jenny Nguyen
That seems like a tough thing to achieve, especially when you have a kid in a small space. (Jenny's daughter, Jet, is 4 years old.) For Jenny, though, there's an easy answer for all the "stuff" that comes along with littles. Just have less of it.
For what they do have, Jenny talks me through how they keep it organized: "Everything of Jet's toy-wise that she might need our help with like art supplies and such things lives downstairs all put away in Muji bins that blend into the environment. Upstairs in her room, we keep all her other toys in a shelving system so the mess stays up there."
Aside from a gray sectional she hates but doesn't plan on getting rid of — "It would be irresponsible to throw it out" — Jenny's apartment is the type of place that has that homespun, creative element that you can't just replicate, not even on a moodboard.
Any parting words? "Just…have faith in your own style. If you like it, you'll find a place for it in your home." Said like a true cool girl.