Designing the Dream

Photo of Owen Chen

The story begins exactly one year ago, I had just graduated from my four year graphic design program and had been jobless for months. As typical as Asian parents can be, my parents were worried and asked everyday if I had applied anywhere for work.

At the time, I had no notion of what I wanted to do. But I knew I didn’t want to do print design, as it is slowly fading away. Advertising did not interest me either, as I don’t see it producing any true value.

That’s when I discovered the Digital Design program at VFS. At the time, I thought the combination of traditional design and motion graphics could produce very interesting results and unique design solutions.
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Fail Harder : My Startup Weekend with VFS Alumni

Owen Chan About Page image

Design should not be seen as a visual enhancement or afterthought, but a product or service as a whole that combines technology, user experience, and storytelling.

I took the line quoted above from my Portfolio Site’s About Page , because it is something I have always truly believed in. While at school, I always sought to dream up products and services that were not only well designed, but design driven, from the core. Which is why, despite an extreme lack of sleep, I decided to attend a three-day marathon at the Startup Weekend Vancouver right after the graduation of our class from VFS. The Start Up Weekend was the perfect opportunity to experiment with creating a design driven solution to a real world problem.

To my surprise, I was able to team up at the event with two other VFS alumni: my classmate Saadi Alkouatli; and Yu Wen (Nancy) Sun, who is currently working at iQmetrix. After listening to Nancy pitch her idea in front of 150 other “wantrepreneurs”, we teamed up with her and started our Real World 3-Day Slam.

 Our Team — just before the Pitch

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7 Books To Read Before You… Grow Old

From the Three Little Pigs to the latest biography on Steve Jobs, I’m always on the look out for the latest and greatest books. No matter where or how busy I am, I try to take out some time every week and dedicate it to reading. I have always believed that life is an accumulation of different experiences, and the best way to improve ourselves is by learning from the mistakes of our past experiences. Yet our lives are only so long, and we can only experience so many things within that given time-frame. With books, you can read about others’ life experiences packaged tightly into a few hundred pages, enriching your own as a result.


Below are 7 amazing books that I’ve read recently. Not all of them are specifically design related, but because design, as a whole, can be related to everything we do in life, I’ve found them very interesting and relevant nevertheless.

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My Lunch with Peter Jin Hong by Owen Chen

Last term, I was one of the lucky few who was had the chance to have lunch with Peter Jin Hong from Google. As someone who has always aspired to work for a big tech company, this was the perfect opportunity for me to learn what’s it like to work for a tech giant like Google.

Prior to the lunch, Peter sat in on our final presentation for Interactive Design 2 and gave us feedback on our term project. To our surprise, instead of commenting on our user experience problems, Peter focused on giving feedback on our presentation and how we could better resonate with our audience/client.

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