Next Steps
Vince Lo

Its been awhile since we’ve shared through our journal. This year has swiftly passed by already and we find ourselves in the midst of June. As some might already be aware through our social media, we have been hard at work to open our retail store “SORT”.

In 2015, we took a trip to Japan after coming up to our third year as a studio. It was a time to step back and reimagine, refocus and dream of our next goals. During those particular few days, Alvin and I spent the late afternoon sitting out on the patio of the Blue Bottle Coffee in Aoyama and as a soft breeze bristled through the trees, we discussed any and every idea possible. We reflected on the goals we had set and achieved or areas that still had room for improvement. We marveled at the ways God had opened doors for us; doors we never even dared to knock on. Yet the looming question we always came back to was “what’s next?”.

Logically, design studios expand their team in order to grow their capacity for more work. This made sense for us naturally, but as we considered our goals and dreams, it seemed to go beyond more work and financial growth.

We had seeked out and visited different neighbourhoods and shops around Japan and were clearly inspired from the experience of their culture and environment. Without filtering my thoughts, I had brought up the idea of opening a store. The thought seemed to catch both of us by surprise, but we sipped on the idea and allowed it to slowly sink in and take shape.

Opening a store for us ultimately became about connecting with the city—to share our passion for design through tangible tools/objects and to communicate the impact of design in our everyday life.

While that trip to Japan was a momentary pause for rest and seeing anew, our upcoming store opening arrives ironically at what seems to be the busiest season of our lives so far. From the various projects in the balance to family emergencies and life changes, I realized that there seemed to be no better time than now to once again pause and reflect on the journey thus far. It’s why I’m writing this.

My hope is that visitors venturing into SORT would be able to experience what we experienced on our trip about three years ago; that they might be able to step inside our doors for a moment of pause, if only for a few moments and find themselves leaving inspired and refreshed. I’m hoping SORT will add value to the city where I was born and raised—the city that teases you with a few weeks of sunshine and pours down on you for the rest of the year. Yet, even as Alvin has taught me, there is something to appreciate about the rain.

Its definitely a busy time at the studio, but theres also a sense of calm in our midst, like the one that we felt on that late summer afternoon on the patio—eager to push forward and await what’s next.