my name is mina mayo-smith. i am half Vietnamese and half American. i was raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Singapore, studied in New York City and Paris, and have been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past year.
As you can see, city life has dominated most of my existence.
In 2021, I graduated from NYU with a concentration in Social and Cultural Identities. My thesis explored the historical and social politics of the Vietnamese Diaspora in the United States. Right after graduation, I completed a Permaculture Design Course with teachers Sarah Wu and Eduardo T that opened my eyes and heart to the interconnectedness of the earth and its inhabitants, as well as the importance of regenerative practices for both the soul and the soil.
In my experience, the PDC was the first course in which I truly felt like I wanted to learn. (It didn't hurt that the class took place in a yoga shala that looked out onto an enchanting view of the trees and mountains). I believe it shouldn't take someone 20 or more years to be in touch with the wonders of the earth – to see the ways in which nature is self-sufficient, as well as a living and breathing blueprint to how We can do things.
Living in cities, it’s very easy to adopt the default mindset that humans are superior to nature. We see nature as something we can manipulate for our own self-benefit; a vacation destination that enables us to destress from our default lives. At the start of the course, the idea I had of soil was equated to dirt or gunk that got stuck underneath my shoes. By the end of it, however, I harbored the idea that maybe I am in fact Soil, and Soil was in fact me. One of my big goals is to develop the mindset of working alongside nature; draw inspiration for my creativity from what It has to teach us.
I am in my mid-twenties. Which indicates that I’m in that phase of my life where I’m desperate to attach any label to my identity, while also fearing the commitment of carrying around any label.
What I know for sure is, I love movement, music, and minds. I like to swim, read books, dance, draw, and play music (I've been practicing the bass guitar for a little over a year now). I also like to cook very spicy food. And visit art museums and galleries.
In the past year, I’ve undergone a lot of change in my lifestyle, and what that’s yielded for me is the courage to pursue my interests. More specifically, my desire to create. Since moving to Chiang Mai, I’ve taken Furniture Design courses and only want to keep doing more with it. I love sculpting and I like the scale of it, in contrast to the bigger projects that Interior Designers or Architectects pursue. I want to build from scratch. And I believe this course is going to steer me into the direction of using materials that are unharmful to myself as well as the earth. I believe it’s also going to unleash a plethora of new ideations that I can’t even begin to think of.
I love sculpture and building. i'm interested in exploring biomaterials and upcycling materials to fabricate spirited and timeless furniture. My designs entrust nature to be its teacher, mimicking its ubiquitous implementation of spirals, waves, denditric lines, along with other patterns that feed into its self-optimization. an important part of my design practice synthesizes sociocultural studies with behavioral patterns, enabling me to engender furniture that adds value to daily habits and rituals. my main strengths reside in the visualization of projects, developing copious ideas on how to materialize the projects, while also taking into account the restraints.
rosemary & time¶