Fabulous People: Angela Hong

Angela Hong is the director of architecture at Arcsine, an Oakland-based architecture and interior design firm with a focus on hospitality, restaurant, residential and workplace spaces. “While we take on projects around the globe, many of our projects are here in the Bay Area, and it’s fantastic to be part of the community we serve through our work,” Hong says. Learn about Angela Hong…

Hometown: I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the United States as a young teen. I spent the rest of my formative years in Saratoga, CA. 

First job: Working at my aunt’s card shop in New York when I was 10. 

Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: Hiking in the Oakland Hills, snowboarding in Lake Tahoe or spending a leisurely day in the wine country.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Motherhood brings me unparalleled joy but, boy, is it a challenge! My proudest moments are when I stop struggling and ask for help. It takes courage and the kind of letting go that I’m not always comfortable with, but it’s a journey I’m happy to be on.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Self-doubt, seeking validation from others. I’ve learned to extend more compassion to myself and to accept the messiness of growth while ‘leaning into the wind.’

Someone who inspires you and why: Dr. Brené Brown’s work has profoundly impacted my personal and professional life. Whenever I catch myself in an auto-pilot mode, I remind myself that true engagement starts with presenting your imperfect self to the world and that I must press on and lead with this vulnerability. My 6-year-old is a brilliant role model in this regard, with her capacity for self-love, indifference to failures and commitment to staying curious. 

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in architecture: Embrace a life of learning. Be passionate about your work but be equally passionate about listening. Design is not a linear nor a singular process – get comfortable with the discomfort. When all fails, remember that putting pen to paper is a powerful act.

Favorite quote: “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” –Charles Mingus

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I was once part of a violin duet called Stair Stringers, named after the exit stairwell we used to practice in.

What makes someone fabulous: To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, I think someone who is courageously gracious under pressure is fabulous.

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