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Clara Jung: In Her Own Words

By Clara Jung

Clara Jung: In Her Own Words

Interior designers spend their careers making people feel at home in the spaces they live in and visit, but where do they belong, and what are their responsibilities when they get there? As a second-generation Asian-American, these are questions Clara Jung, the owner and designer behind Banner Day Interiors, finds herself navigating.

Her designs speak for themselves, but as a member of a community often regarded as a silent minority, in a status-quo cracked open by virus and conflict, Clara’s defining her voice to have a sincere conversation about what a home means and what it should and shouldn’t feel like when you’re there.

You may already be familiar with her work. Now get to know Clara Jung in her own words.

Clara Jung, Banner Day Interiors

From Clara Jung, Banner Day Interiors

When people pronounce my last name without first meeting me, they often use the well-known German pronunciation of Jung ("young"). Perhaps it's because my name fairly closely approximates the well-known Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. It's actually pronounced with a hard "j" - just the way it's spelled phonetically ("Jung"). I was born and raised in California. Recently, we were being seated at a restaurant - pre COVID times - with the reservation being under my name, and the host asked what my real name was. My real name is Clara. My mom took the time to choose a name that meant something to her and hopefully to me. This choice was mostly based on the meaning: bright and clear. What's in a name? Quite a bit it would seem. I remember when my parents became citizens in the late '80s and they chose "American" names as part of their citizenship process. It is telling that they didn't choose their given Korean names, but rather picked fairly well-known English first names. I wonder now how they came to choose their names and if they gave as careful thought to their selection as they had given to mine and my sister's.

As a child of immigrants and being a minority hyphenate (Korean-American), you belong nowhere and everywhere. It's hard not to repeat the well-known tropes of growing up as a second-generation immigrant: the strong yearning to fit in and have "normal" school lunches, having to be a translator for one's parents, etc. On the other hand, working in Seoul as a law student intern in my mid-twenties, I quickly realized that I wasn't necessarily warmly embraced by the "home" I was supposed to go back to (a common racial remark even in ethnically diverse Los Angeles). To float through life always being considered "other" can be stressful and unforgiving. And I wonder if I have children, will their physical attributes always place them in a similar status.

Being a second-generation Asian-American woman, the gender factor adds another dimension. I was told as a practicing attorney at a firm that I was too reserved and quiet. As a designer, a contractor told me that my voice sounded like a 10-year-old girl. Is any of this true? Hard to say. I often say I'm loud, can be fairly profane, direct, and lately a very strong advocate on behalf of my clients. Those who know me best would probably agree with this self-assessment. But I often wonder, am I this person because this is truly who I am? Or did I become this person because I'm trying to resist all the stereotypes often placed on Asian-American women? It's hard to know for sure, likely a combination of both.

I want to be known as an interior designer, not necessarily an Asian-American interior designer. But can that be separated? And does it even matter? My ethnic background informs my actual self and to a large extent how I work, process information, and design. Do I have a responsibility to walk away from the traditional Eurocentric design trends and philosophy that dominates the interior design world? As an Asian-American, do I then become responsible for executing design reflective of my ethnic heritage? These are all ideas I wrestle with and reflect the internal struggle that is common to many Asian-Americans - a constant straddling of two worlds.

Let's not shy away from it -- the world has been weird, especially this past year. At the same time, I feel like a crack of opportunity has been opened. Let's open it even wider. One of the benefits of the disruption of normalcy has been a true and sincere conversation about racism, being a minority in America, how to be a good ally, and inclusion. Here in the Bay Area, we often are under the mistaken impression that diversity and acceptance are the norms. As recent events have shown, this is untrue. Despite being considered a silent minority, AAPIs have been raising their voices lately. This change is welcomed and much-needed, and it seems the community and the world are listening. Here's hoping that this is not a passing trend, but a long-lasting permanent change.

Get to know Clara by checking out some of her most memorable projects and sampling the colors that inspire her design. Featuring 2x4 Ceramic color samples in Hunter Green, Kelp, Seedling, Sea Glass, Desert Bloom, Mesa, Tumbleweed, and Dawn.

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Want more Banner Day? Click here to read our 2020 Designer Spotlight. Inspired by Clara? Order color samples online. Need some help? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.

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