house in the middle of the woods
asian women in front of nature
house in the woods with lights

Alumni Spotlight: Tiffany Jen

Nov 25 2022

Where and what are you working on right now?

  • Casa Magda, my short term rental home in the Catskills. Been loving designing the brand, at home/in person experience, interior, renovation, architecture, DIY projects.
  • Shopify in marketing design, previously at Instagram/Meta doing campaign videos
  • inner an, my spiritual practice around energy healing, TCM, healing, etc.

living room with big fireplace and furniture

My biggest passion project is Cassa Magda, my short term rental home in the Catskills. The goal was to create a unique, short term rental experience for people that enjoy a unique designed space that would spark their creativity and be able to connect with nature. 

I have been in New York City for 13 years now and during my time living here I’ve been going upstate a lot for hiking, camping, swimming, and to spend time in nature. The Catskills are so special because of its mountains, waterfalls, swimming holes, etc. In 2019, I decided to buy a fixer upper home in the Catskills Mountain region. From 2019–2021, I learned to renovate the entire home with my boyfriend. Of course as a designer, I created a brand for the house together, named it Casa Magda (because it’s located on Magda road) and now I rent it on AirBnb today. The project received a lot of press and was featured on Dwell Magazine, Escape Brooklyn, BluDot Furniture, and is currently featured on the design home page of AirBnb itself. 

For my job, I’ve been working as a marketing designer at Shopify. Previously I was at Meta and instagram doing campaign videos for the past five years helping small to large businesses create campaigns videos to serve on the social media platforms.

The pandemic took a toll on my mental health, so I invested a lot of my time in trying to find ways to relieve my anxiety, stress, and depression. I practice yoga, pilates, meditation and breathwork and incorporate these practices into my daily routine. This began as a personal thing at the start of the pandemic after going through a lot of grief and loss. I started an Instagram account recently named “inner an” to share my skills and knowledge around healing. During this time, I sought mentors, and teachers in the self-healing, acupuncture, breathwork and meditation space to guide me. I also offer a service that’s called “energy healing”, which is similar to the japanese practice “reiki”. In short, it’s a technique in healing a person’s blocked energy to help with whatever they’re going through–physical or emotional– and facilitate the healing for that person.

house in the middle of the woods
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of inspiration comes from time I spend around nature, which is why I bought a house in the Catskills. I love the contrast between nature and city life, going to museums, galleries, culture in nyc and spending time by waterfalls, lakes, swimming holes.
I’m inspired by traveling and spending time in nature. Growing up in Florida I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of water and trees. After living in the city for so long I realized that being around sun, water, and nature calms me and inspires me a lot. That’s a big reason why I bought the house upstate since it is close to streams and waterfalls where you can go swimming. I love the contrast between the Catskill Mountains and living in New York City— with its unlimited access to inspiration like museums, exhibitions, and creatives.

Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years? 
Hopefully expanding my home retreat to create tiny homes and more unique experiences of spending time in nature.

What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career?
Understanding how to start a brand and business. Understanding my audience is vital. The connections I’ve made through school. The freedom and creativity to create whatever I was passionate about during that time and just create it. It’s harder now to do that in the real world at jobs, etc.

The fundamental knowledge of starting a business was extremely helpful in my whole career by far. It’s extremely eye opening to see how a lot of businesses out there don’t really understand their target audience and the important role of visual design, consistency, and branding when it comes to creating their product or service. 

SVA makes it easy to make connections with some of the most talented people in the industry. They have amazing professors that you can reach out to, ask about your thesis, brainstorm ideas with. This kind of network at arms reach feels incredibly special.
Are you planning any exciting upcoming projects?
Taking it day by day. Just focusing on my home 

Through the pandemic I’ve learned to slow down. I tend to get overwhelmed with too many projects and I’m naturally ambitious and want to do so much all the time. These days, I just take it day by day and I’m okay with not being in control of everything, proving so much, and having to work on so many projects at once.

What advice would you give your student self?
Be more curious and take more risks in design. Don’t only stick to what you know. Put yourself out there and ask as many questions as possible to build courage in how you create and present your design. Looking back I would say just go for the craziest ideas, share it, and utilize the designers and teachers that you have there. You’re not gonna get that kind of talent and feedback in the real world.

What was your favorite part of the MFA Design program?
The diversity of projects we had with some of the most talented professors in the industry. It’s a unique experience that not many designers get the opportunity to have.

If you could choose a thesis topic today, what would you pick?
Love focusing on unique home experiences for creatives beyond just the typical airbnb. Creating Retreats, artist residencies, nature hikes, foraging, medicinal herbs, etc.

I have a love for interior design and architecture and I spend a lot of time at home. So I would have loved to do  what I’m doing today–creating special spaces and home experiences for people. I’ve realized that I feel the most safe and creative inside my home, so I want to make those spaces for other people to enjoy too. Eventually I would love to build a lot of tiny homes on my property for artists and creatives, design a huge retreat to help others connect with each other and with nature. We would do activities like foraging, learning about medicinal herbs, cooking with plants, etc.  There’s something so special about being out there in the mountains, connecting with the air, and clearing our minds from city noise. I think it’s so important for our work and mental health.

Check out Tiffany’s instagrams : @jiffyten, @casa_magda, @inner__an


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