One Design Recommendations: Local AAPI Businesses and Makers Guide

Featured: (Top, left) Abakada® Breaking Chain Tee in Baby Blue, (Top, right) Kimchi Stew from Kimchi Pop by Chef Son. (Center) Rice Power Essence from Choc Choc. (Bottom, left) Toki Mug in Stone from Five Elements Home, (Bottom, middle) Patches of Clouds: Wu Bin’s Ten Views of a Lingbi Rock from Paragon Book Gallery, (Bottom, right) Grace Lai Tiger Painting Watercolor painting of a tiger face by Grace Lai (1917-2010), as seen at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago's Temporary Exhibit—Attic Treasures II/“Child’s Room.”

Local AAPI businesses, makers, cultural centers, and more deserve celebration and support, always—but right now, that’s especially true.

In collaboration with our Asian American colleagues, you’ll find a studio-curated collection of Chicago-area businesses, organizations, and makers below.

Join us in supporting them now and well into the future.


In use throughout this post is the typeface Min Sans (available on Future Fonts), designed by New York-based independent type designer and typographer TienMin Liao. The design system pays homage to block prints and Asian characters on parchment.

Learn, Engage, and Donate

There are specific actions we—as a predominantly white studio and as individuals—can take to support our colleagues and the greater AAPI community. Research, read, reflect, share, and act. Do not disengage.

We will continue to share resources through The Weekly and our News Page. For more guidance, we have permanently added additional information to our Instagram highlights.


Learn


Engage


Donate

Support AAPI Community Fund

The Support the AAPI Community Fund aims to do just that, addressing the urgent issues that face the AAPI community as well as broader, systemic problems. With the donations received through the Fund, GoFundMe.org will issue grants to trusted AAPI organizations working to rectify the racial inequalities in our society.

Red Canary Song

Red Canary Song is a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers, organizing transnationally. Their mission centers base-building with migrant workers through a labor rights framework and mutual aid, with the belief that full decriminalization is necessary for labor organizing and anti-trafficking.

Mutual Aid

AFIRE Chicago

Founded by Filipino immigrants, AFIRE Chicago “believes that the people most affected by structural injustice should be at the forefront of our movements. [They] seek to amplify the voices of those most silenced in [their] community: undocumented families, new immigrants, domestic workers, low-wage workers, seniors, and youth.”


Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago

For over 25 years, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago has worked to bring together the Asian American community, and empower them to create change in their communities. Within the past three years, they adopted a new racial equity mission—builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity—allowing them, “to extend beyond our community, forge new relationships, and win on issues that affect all marginalized communities.”


Asian American Cultural Center

The AACC provides “the University of Illinois community with space to gather and share the diverse and rich cultures that are a part of the Asian American experience.”


Asian Improv aRts Midwest

AIaM’s mission is “to build a vital, self-empowered Asian American community in the Chicago area by advancing the understanding and profile of Asian and Asian American cultures through the traditional and contemporary cultural arts.”


HANA Center

In Korean, HANA means “one.” HANA Center’s mission is “to empower Korean American and multiethnic immigrant communities through social services, education, culture, and community organizing to advance human rights.”


Project Vision

Founded in 2003 by a group of five young professionals, students, and community volunteers, Project: VISION addresses the need for teens in the neighborhood to have a safe place to call their own, where they can find support and guidance as they navigate through high school and pave a path for a bright future.

Art featured: Grace Lai Tiger Painting Watercolor painting of a tiger face by Grace Lai (1917-2010), as seen at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago's Temporary Exhibit—Attic Treasures II/“Child’s Room.”

Art and Design

Chinese American Museum of Chicago

CAMoC’s mission is to advance the appreciation of Chinese American culture through exhibitions, education, and research and to preserve the past, present, and future of Chinese Americans primarily in the Midwest.


Japanese Culture Center

Established in 1977 in Chicago by Aikido Shihan (Teacher of Teachers) and Zen Master Fumio Toyoda, the JCC brings martial arts, crafts, and philosophical riches of Japan to the public in an experiential way through active participation in arts that have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years.


the ART gallery

Located in the heart of Chicago's Chinatown and walking distance of McCormick Convention Center, the ART Gallery represents international artists with the mixed flair of contemporary modern, traditional and experimental style; inaugurating eastern/western philosophy by embracing modern concepts through the eyes of the artists.


Token Theatre

Aiming to change the narrative and shatter the false constructs about Asian Americans, the Token Theatre creates new stories, reimagines classic works, and empowers artists to reshape the American identity.

Book featured: Patches of Clouds: Wu Bin’s Ten Views of a Lingbi Rock from Paragon Book Gallery.

Books and Music

The Dial Bookshop

Located in the historic Fine Arts Building in downtown Chicago, The Dial Bookshop pays tribute to the rich literary history of the building itself and those who occupied it throughout its storied past. They’ve been quick to share an incredible collection of books that “provide a viable window into the AAPI interiority” on their Instagram page.


Kinokuniya Chicago

Kinokuniya Chicago is located on the outskirts of the city within Mitsuwa Marketplace (also listed in this guide). They offer a wide variety of books, magazines, and stationery from Japan specializing in an extensive collection of manga, graphic novels, art and design books, cookbooks, travel books, children's books, and more, both in English and Japanese.


Little Miss Ann

Ann Torralba, aka Little Miss Ann, is an award-winning Chicago kids musician, a former Chicago Public School teacher, an instructor at Chicago’s iconic Old Town School of Folk Music, a mom, and a first-generation Filipina American.


Paragon Book Gallery

Paragon Book Gallery facilitates intercultural understanding through the circulation of knowledge and creativity. Acting as “a unique liaison between Chinese and American academic and creative communities,” Paragon Book Gallery, “believes in the power of books to connect people. Just as books, bearing insight and inspiration, are passed between friends, [they] strive to provide our readers with the tools to build a more harmonious world.”

Product featured: [The Yeon] Vita 7 Energy Peeling Gel from Choc Choc.

Boutiques

Ándale Market

A new, incredible, Andersonville market. This curated corner store serves ‘best of’ essentials, unique food finds, local and imported goods, fun gifts, and more.


Choc Choc

Choc Choc means “well-moisturized skin” in Korean. This company believes that the key to a beautiful face is well-moisturized skin and life by handpicking the best of Korean cosmetics, with a wide variety of items catered to specific skincare needs.


Keshoume

Family fun business, Keshoume, brings affordable products to the hands of people who have sensitive skin and who may not have access to the products offered by dermatologists. Keshoume sources Japanese cosmetic products that are hard to find or are not sold in the U.S.


M.M.LaFleur

Frustrated by a lack of women’s workwear options that were both stylish and practical, Sarah LaFleur teamed up with Miyako Nakamura—the former head designer of Zac Posen—and Narie Foster to launch M.M.LaFleur in 2013. Located within walking distance from the One Design office, this womenswear gem’s mission reads, “when women succeed, the world becomes a better place. Our goal is to take the work out of getting dressed so that you can focus on the work that matters to you.”

Food featured: Kimchi Stew from Kimchi Pop by Chef Son.

Food and Beverages

3 Little Pigs

Home of the saucy char siu, originator of 3LP fried rice, and creator of giant salt/pepper pork chop bun, the Chicago Eater says that 3 Little Pigs’s “Chef Henry Cai makes standout char siu that’s glazed in sticky-sweet sauce, as well as additional items like barbecue ribs, fried rice, and egg rolls.” Started in quarantine only last year, 3LP’s dishes have drawn rave reviews from customers. Orders are currently being accepted through Instagram!


Bobijoa Korean Kitchen

Bobijoa translates to “I like rice” in Korean. Pilsen’s Bobijoa Korean Kitchen presents a menu, “that is reflective of the dishes [they] grew up eating and the dishes [they] love.” Best of luck trying to pick just a handful of items to order.


Cà Phê Dá

Led by Chef Thai & Danielle Dang, Cà Phê Dá recently introduced DANG GOOD WINGS—specializing in Vietnamese coffee culture, wings, fries, and waffles. Thrillist listed them as one of the 21 Best Chicken Wings in America, Eater included them as one of The Best Coffee Shops Across 24 Cities, and Eater Chicago pegged them one of 16 Stellar All-Day Cafes in Chicago. So, get to it!


Cebu

This modern, regional Filipino spot in Wicker Park boasts one of the city’s best dinner menus—not to mention their extensive drink collection, too.


Chiu Quon Bakery & Dim Sum

The oldest bakery in Chinatown is known for its fresh BBQ buns and soft, pillowy cream cakes. It’s a staple to many who have made Chiu Quon a family tradition every week. The menu has expanded over the years to include walnut cookies, coconut cream turnovers, lotus bean mooncakes, custard buns, and much more. Expert tip—Chiu Quon is cash-only. Make sure you’re prepared before you go!


Chowbus

Founded in 2016 by Chinese international graduate students at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chowbus is a food delivery platform providing high-quality authentic Asian food, empowering local independent restaurants and stores through their app.


CoCo Vietnamese Sandwiches & Pho

This Ravenswood Vietnamese favorite serves banh mi, noodle soups, and more. (We’re talking the perfect lunch spot, friends.)


Dolo Dim Sum

Dolo is the only restaurant in the Chinatown area that has a full bar and outdoor patio. And if that piqued your interest, “every plate achieves that elusive, cuisine-defining balance of sweet, salty, and sour—even dessert.”


Dongpo Impression

Located in the heart of Chinatown, Dongpo Impression is a traditional Chinese restaurant highlighting regional specialties from Sichuan.


En Hakkore 2.0

Poke bowls. Sushi burritos. Kimchi and bulgogi fries. En Hakkore 2.0 in Wicker Park has some of the best Asian fusion fare.


Fat Miilk

East Pilsen’s Fat Miilk “pays homage to Vietnam’s trying times and enduring victories. With so much goodness (and deliciousness) rooted in centuries of history, it's only right the magic is shared with the world. Committed to authenticity and support of local communities, all aspects stay true to Vietnam and the Vietnamese people—from the beans to the farmers to the people behind it.”


First Sip Cafe

Vietnamese sisters Gigi and Erin Hoang’s Uptown coffee shop is nothing short of delicious. We recommend the coconut jasmine Vietnamese iced coffee.


Hello Jasmine

Taiwanese restaurant Hello Jasmine is named after the founder’s wife, “Jasmine,” an homage to the duo’s efforts to start a business together after they moved to Chicago. “Determined to create Taiwanese Bento, snacks and bubble tea that deliver the exact flavor they grew up loving, Hello Jasmine presents the most authentic Taiwanese flavor to people in Chicago, and for Taiwanese people to experience a home away from home.”


Hugo Tea Bar

Hugo Tea is a “modern importer, defined by directness and masterful tea.” They travel thousands of miles every year pursuing great tea—”[buying] 100% of [their] tea leaves direct for nearly a decade, untangling the stubborn half-truths that pervade this industry and sharing the realities of tea farming.”


Imperial Restaurant

Formally known as Cai Restaurant, Imperial is the spot for authentic Cantonese dim sum.


Kimchi Pop

Kimchi Pop by Chef Son is a Korean café serving traditional fare including stews and bibimbap. With such a selective menu, we recommend trying...well. Everything.


Kimski / Maria's / Marz Community Brewing

All staples in Bridgeport created by Chicago fixture Ed Marszewski, Maria’s, and neighboring Kimski specifically have been transformed into the “Community Canteen,” a take-out restaurant serving free (or pay as you can) meals to anyone and everyone. The worsening of the pandemic and the closing of dine-in restaurants in Chicago prompted Public Media Institute, in partnership with Kimski and Maria's, to expand their aid to farmers, hospitality workers, and those affected by food insecurity.


Jennivee’s Bakery

Jennivee’s Bakery, an LGBTQ+ owned and operated shop in Lakeview, was founded by Jenni Vee—a passionate home baker who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States. Offering a wide variety of cakes by the slice, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, bars, and other pastries, Jennivee’s has something for everyone.


Joong Boo Market

Since 1992, Joong Boo Market has offered an extensive variety of Asian-focused grocery, fresh produce, meats, and seafood. Their core philosophy “has always centralized around on customer service, quality products, and price. From our buyers, who work closely with hundreds of vendors, farmers, and brokers to find only the most authentic and best products available, to our QA staff who ensure only the freshest produce, meats, seafood make it onto our shelves, we strive to bring you only the best.”


Mitsuwa Marketplace

Just a quick trip outside of the city and you’ll find Mitsuwa, a supermarket that offers a range of Japanese groceries, cosmetics, appliances, and more.


Side Practice Coffee

Side Project Coffee is a Bowmanville joint that encourages new beginnings. “It’s a place that showcases side practices from the community, a place to work on your side practice, and a place that inspires to start a side practice. All while drinking a damn good cup of coffee.”


Uncle Mike’s Place

“Home of Chicago’s famous Filipino breakfast,” Uncle Mike’s Place serves hearty portions of all-day-morning & lunchtime cuisine. Hot tip—try their marinated skirt steak.


Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

Established in 2014 by Mr. and Mrs. Man, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings revives a 300-year-old tradition into a new, exciting era. “During the Qing Dynasty, a guy [with the] surname Man started a small shop selling hand-made soup dumplings in northern China. The dumplings were so good that they got sold out every day. People who even lived far away were willing to travel just to taste them. The secret recipe has passed on to the descendants for 250 years...It’s been passed on to the 16th descendant of Man...who now uses it to sell hand-made soup dumplings just like his ancestors.”

Products featured: (Left) Tea Pitcher from the Glazed Black Pottery Tea Set and (Right) Toki Mug in Stone from Five Elements Home.

Home Goods and Plant Shops

Five Elements Home

Five Elements Home has been offering fine, handcrafted, and natural Asian housewares for modern living in Andersonville since 2019. “Guided by the Chinese philosophy of the Five Elements or wŭ xíng (五行), [they] change [their] collections in harmony with the evolving rhythms of nature. This ever-changing and interconnected natural balance is known in Chinese as fēng shuǐ (风水). As the seasons, colors, and temperatures evolve over the course of a year, so do the collections of Five Elements Home.”


The Plantier

An explicitly queer-friendly shop, Noble Square’s The Plantier ideals rare exotic plants and accessories—hand-selected and brought to our shop for a greater appreciation and understanding of different cultures.


Qideas Chicago

Immigrant and family-owned Qideas located in Uptown boasts an incredible collection of plants, plant accessories, and gifts.

Shirt featured: Abakada® Breaking Chain Tee in Baby Blue.

Makers

Abakada

Founded in 2018 by a pair of Kapampangan friends Arvin Boyon and Calvin Calma, ABAKADA showcases Filipino American culture through various graphics and symbols. “But instead of sporting the common sun and stars design which are iconic symbols of the Filipino flag, they opted towards minimal graphics, pastel, and lighter shaded colors, along with Baybayin (ancient writing script of the Philippines).”


Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

Born in Atlanta to Thai and Indonesian immigrants Amanda is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and STEM advocate based in Brooklyn, NY. “Her explorations of feminism, science, and community have appeared in museums and galleries, at protests and rallies, on buildings and highway tunnels, as well as on the mainstage of two TED conferences...NBC has named her one of 26 Emerging Asian American Voices and her AR-enabled portrait series Beyond Curie was named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative products in 2019.”


David Sugihara

David Sugihara is a tattoo artist currently working at Speakeasy Tattoo in Wicker Park.


Gene Yoon

Gene Yoon is a wedding and lifestyle photographer whose philosophy is centered around play, fun, and building lasting relationships with his clients.


Geneva Boyett

Chinese American wedding photographer Geneva Boyett “spent hours looking through old photo albums with my mom and having her recount the stories around each one.” She says that “photographs are important because of the stories they preserve—and good photography should document that in a genuine and authentic way.”


Guanyu Xu

Born in Beijing, 徐冠宇 Guanyu Xu is an artist currently based in Chicago and a lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Guanyu Xu's photographic interventions offer an exploration of his complex personal history and identity; born and raised in China, Xu moved to the US in 2014. His work bridges the gap between the personal and political, highlighting the disparities and connections between the two nations, in which his intersectional experience of the US meets his conservative familial experience of China.”


Jeff Pak

Jeff Pak is a “Korean American existential crisis with dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. When he isn’t busy experimenting with kimchi in tacos, he navigates the world of images like a yard sale—constantly trying to decipher what to keep, sell, and throw out...Currently, he spends his time quarantining in Chicago, fixating on the seance of sexy and funny and whether there is a difference between the two to begin with.” His murals can be seen across the city on the Near West Side, Marshall Square, and Humboldt Park to name a few.


Jenny Lam

Self-taught multidisciplinary artist, artist agent, independent curator, and writer, Jenny Lam founded Artists on the Lam in 2011. The site for this enterprise, which garnered an international following, was named “Best Local Visual Arts Blog” in the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago issue.


Jin Lee

Chicago-based photographer Jin Lee’s projects “center on forming a deeper relationship to places through close examination of their landscapes and built environments.”


Jofred Estilo

Based in Joliet, Jofred Estilo defies conventional genres “taking the best pieces of what’s already there, fussing them together Dragon Ball Z style.” He told Sofar Sounds that he aims to, “sincerely elevate Asain Americans while paying homage to Black culture,” with his music.


Jon Nano

Self-taught freelance photographer Jon Nano specializes in environmental portraiture and street photography. As a Chicago-native, he’s “inspired by the city around [him], and [his] work is a reflection of that...striving to capture a perfect moment that tells a story.”


King Marie

King Marie is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter, DJ, and creative director who Mixcloud describes as “a femme-forward attitude, dedicated to the empowerment of womxn, children and Filipinx culture.”


Louis De Guzman

Louis De Guzman is a multidisciplinary artist and designer who “creates artwork that merges his past with his present...blending both traditional and experimental techniques in his work. His signature geometric abstraction style often blends together images and stories that represent his family's immigrant journey, as well as his own experience as a second-generation Filipino American.”


Luya Poetry

Luya, meaning ginger—and specifically the fact that ginger heals—hosts QTBIPOC-friendly open mics every 2nd Wednesday in the cloud. “Poetry for the people!”


Mayumi Lake

Chicago-based photographer and mixed-media artist Mayumi Lake’s work “delves into childhood and pubescent dreams, phobia, and desires. She employs herself and others as her models, as well as dolls, toys, weapons, vintage clothes, and altered landscape as her props.”


MURRZ

Mary Damian—otherwise known as MURRZ—is a Manila-born, self-taught, artist. “Her main mediums are ink illustrations on paper but have recently started painting on canvas, large-scale murals, and digital illustration...She combines her learnings from her 9+ years working in the advertising industry, and her love for street art, music, and Filipino culture to help her discover an artistic style that is truly her own.”


Reddor Santiago

Filipino American Reddor Santiago is an artist, muralist, and tattooer who was recently featured in the Chicago Sun Times for his work on the 40-by-30-feet mural at 901 W. Lake St., at Peoria Street, a couple of blocks from the Morgan Street L station in the West Loop. “[Reddor]’s ‘Kid Red’ featured in this new public art piece is ‘kind of a self-portrait,’ incorporating elements of his childhood, like his love of anime—into the art style.”


Sen Morimoto

Sen Morimoto is a musician and co-owner of Sooper Records—a Chicago record label owned and operated by artists NNAMDÏ, Sen Morimoto & Glenn Curran that’s “linked by a highly intricate musical work that explores...the creative muses at the formless experimental cross-roads of contemporary pop, hip-hop, and indie.”


SLAYSIAN

Created by artist and independent curator Jenny Lam, SLAYSIAN is a celebration of local Asian American artists. This group exhibition was originally scheduled to open on March 20, 2020, but due to the COVID-19, the physical show has been postponed indefinitely. A digital exhibition has been made available to view the work of the 39 participants.


Suri Wong

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Suri’s first music is a fusion of classical piano, electronic orchestral sounds, jazzy vocals, and poetic lyrics. Every song is “birthed from living joyful yet challenging experiences abroad in Paris, China, London, and Hong Kong...written out of her deep empathy for others who have learned the daily courage to live because of physical and mental health needs.”


Swiper

Mikayla Delson—otherwise known as Swiper—is a Chicago-based “Filipina American digital content creator, photographer, and events producer specializing in creative direction and social media marketing.” Through her photography and event production, she aims to highlight, collaborate with, and curate events for womxn, Filipinx, and a variety of Chicago's communities.


Vivian Le

Vivian Le explores the fascination with how history and contemporary media continue to portray children in art as romantic symbols. “[Her] characters depict collectively inhabit a single dystopia [she] continuously develops in [her] imagery. Through using dolls as metaphors, [she] raises questions about the adult gaze and what it means to have agency as an adolescent.”


Yoshiko Kozawa

Yoshiko Kozawa runs Studio Giverny—a ceramics practice inspired by a visit to Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France. Making vessels inspired by nature, “each item is made from a thin sheet of clay that is formed by hand. Nothing is slip cast for mass production. [Yoshiko hand-mixes] all [of their] glazes, tweaking the recipes now and then in search of the right finish.”

Is there another business or resource we should add to the list? Send us a message on Instagram.

One Design Company is a research-driven design and development studio. For over a decade, we’ve explored the intersection of experience and technology—where powerful brands come to life. Want to learn more? Let’s chat.

Most Recent Issue