cait +tiff

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T / a little activism

I think the best forms of activism are the most subversive ones.  They require a little creativity an maybe a paintbrush.  They’re the ones that happen overnight or under your feet, and when they get released, it roars louder than the tweet that got the ball rolling in the first place.  And aren’t big wide walls just asking for it in the first place?  So when I was in San Francisco this past spring, my partner really wanted to check out Clarion Alley in the Mission District.  It’s a community in a city where the voice of increasing social inequality and the fight against gentrification and the whitewashing of neighbourhoods is really taking hold.  Where better to smack some sense into your compadres than on their commute?  I’m always so incredibly impressed by the people who can synthesize their feelings into beautiful acts of activism.  And social media these days means that these messages can get spread far and wide.  Just look at all of the responses to the tragedy of DACA just hours after its announcement.

What a week it’s been, right?  The world is on it’s toes and the anxiety and anger are bubbling towards something.  Good I hope.  So I thought I’d share some snaps I took of Clarion Alley today.  And I hope the dreamers, the creators and those most seriously affected by this week’s everything get a wall of their own.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for paint stains on your new jeans.


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C / Society 6


I am in a constant state of wanting to get rid of everything I own and, at the same time, I want to re-decorate and buy a bunch of new stuff. I have a complicated life. I love finding new artists, people who use words in creative ways, and generally cool stuff to put up on the walls.

After talking to cool-friend Lin about her new apartment, I remembered seeing great prints in a Bonnie Tsang Instagram from last week. In the photo, she had two prints, totally different, but both in black and white, and both with witty phrases that I really liked. Turns out, they came from Society 6.

I knew about Society 6 for their very cool iPhone cases, but thought the company was a bit too dorm-focused for this 33 year old not-student. Turns out, I should probably go back to school, because I clearly know nothing. They have a huge supply of prints, something like 9000 of them, from different artists all over the world. They are very reasonably priced, and these are a few of my favorites.




Now I need another house with walls to fill.


All from Society 6


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C / 5 great things

art.jpgMy brain is all over the place this week, having a lot to do with my impending trip the US, intermittent migraines, heavy work calendar, and transitions all around. It’s mostly good stuff, but it makes me into a terrible procrastinator when I need to take care of my own stuff, and I ate two pieces of cold pizza before I sat down to write this, because I am convinced it will help me “focus.” I think it’s working.

Because I’m a spaz this week, that’s what you get. You get 5 things that were awesome this week, with no real order or reason.

  1. We were in a short movie last night! We will tell you more about it soon, but we can tell you now that it required gigantic hair, and even more hairspray. The end result was sort of like if Taylor Swift and Adele had an old baby. Tiff looked like she should be in a 60’s variety show, in the very best way. See below. us
  2. It’s nothing new, but Graceland remains my very favorite album. Went back to it again this week, and it’s the best. Bonus, I get really excited when Paul Simon says “Tucson” and I’m like THAT’S MEEEEE.
  3. Titus Andromedon, from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I watched this about 30 times to prepare for the shoot last night. 
  4. Random emails. I have reached out to, been reached out to a few times this week, from people I want to know, people I used to know, and people I love but don’t talk to enough. If you are thinking about someone, reach out, even if you don’t know them. Not in a creepy way, but in general, most people like connecting, and it’s fun and awesome.
  5. This is what my hair looks like after an hour of teasing, a can of hair spray, 3 cocktails and a good night’s sleep. I miss it

The end.caitsig

Cover photo credit



T / all of the coffee i drank in saigon


A certain coffee yoda is getting one of these.

Last week, I decided to make it a mission to drink all of the coffee that Ho Chi Minh City (née Saigon) had to offer.  Thanks to the folks at Adventure Faktory (which you should definitely check out), I had the perfect guide.  And on top of that, exactly 36 hours to further my caffeine dependency. I was completely successful.  Sticking to my feet and the super hip hood of District Môt (trans: District One), I set off on two mornings for a steady stream of espressos and slowly dripping coffees.  I made a rookie mistake of ordering a latte early in the mission and learned quickly that all coffee intake should be short and sweet, lest they wind up feeling like a meal. And you can’t have that when all the street food is waiting for you outside every cafe.


L'Usine---MenuMy first stop was the obligatory L’Usine.  All because of a certain Melbourne-based stylista (you know who you are).  I’ve been waiting to come here for years (well, two), and it met all expectations.  Like all cafes in emerging Asia, it’s a great respite from the crazy heat and the one billion motorbikes waiting outside. L’Usine’s Le Loi location is situated just next to Benh Thanh Market and is a perfect place to gather oneself after a bunch of souvenir shopping, or alternatively, to while away a morning with the laptop while bathed in perfect light.  Plus, they’ve got even more shopping downstairs.

Always bathed in light at L'Usine.

Always bathed in light at L’Usine.

Coffee-Tour---The-WorkshopPractically around the corner from L’Usine and up the kind of staircase that hip personified lives in, is the Workshop.  I would say this is where the serious coffee people go.  Aeropress, Japanese drip, single source, all the key words are there.  They probably have delicious food too.  But all I could focus on was the second espresso I had within two hours, and the amazing design of the space. The shared farmer’s tables, gorgeous light (can you sense a theme going?), and very sensibly placed electrical outlets make spending a morning (or more) here even easier.


La-RotondeLa Rotonde is just five minutes away from the Workshop and yet another place with massive windows. I just can’t get over places that favour natural light.  Coffee is a simple pleasure here. Well cushioned seating made the slowly dripping coffee easier to wait for.  And it gave more time to fall for all of the the historical accents housed under the cafe’s arched ceilings.



A must go in Saigon for all design loving folk is 3A Station. But once you get there after a ten minute walk under 40°C heat, you’ll need some time to recalibrate.  Kujuz provides all of this behind its wall of window shutters.  Under the guise of a canteen, they serve delicious and simple Vietnamese cuisine and local coffee, and they’ll even let you bring in cupcakes from neighbouring Pacey’s. Basically, if you’re planning a couple of hours of shopping some of Saigon’s coolest designers, get your caffeine and your sugar here first.


Cupcakes from Pacey, light diffused by Kujuz’s collage of window dressings.


I drank a lot of coffee on this trip. And it was all delicious and well worth the shakes. Saigon can get a bad rap for being a ball of intensity.  But in reality, it’s not the fast paced, unstoppable throng of motorbikes that I experienced upon first inspection just seven years ago.  And having all of this delicious specialty coffee housed in design savvy homes was only the tip of everything I had to learn about this place.

Oh, and here’s a map!

Come back next week to see everything I ate and bought in Saigon!

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.



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C / a proper purge


A few times a year, I flip out and shake my life out, getting rid of as much stuff as possible. Now is one of those times. After being in too many countries the past few months and living out of suitcases and on air mattresses, I have collected a bunch of crap that I honestly don’t need.

I think there is also something psychological about it. I am back in Phnom Penh and my brain is trying to figure out how I feel about it.  It feels different to me now after the summer in London, and I don’t want to slip back into pre-London life,  getting stuck in the same old comfortable things. So maybe if I throw a few of those things away, I can make life here feel shiny and new again.

Anyway, enough of the feelings and onto the getting-rid-of-all-the-stuff, stuff. Because I going to purge all the corners of my life, I need to make a list, and be able to physically cross things off. Here is what I have so far.


I can’t wait to tick all those boxes.

According to Marie Kondo, who literally wrote about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I am on the right track. It’s worth watching her video below if you don’t have time for her book, as she goes through the process of trashing things in the right way. Her main message is to only hold on to things that bring you joy. Now this is a little tough in some areas, for example, I don’t get joy from toilet cleaner, but I am not throwing that out. But for most items, it makes sense. If you are in charge of what goes in an out of your house and life, why hold onto things that don’t make you happy?


The thing that she doesn’t mention, that I think is CRUCIAL to success, is music. To go through all of your worldly possessions and toss a bunch of them with Adele playing in the background is a terrible idea. The point is to toss, not curl up in the fetal position, sobbing into old movie tickets and a free t-shirt. So pick a fun playlist. Tiff created a bunch of fun ones on our 8tracks channel, and I particularly love this one and this one. You can also just deep dive into the Taylor Swift abyss, which has been known to happen in these parts.

Now I’m off to fill up garbage bags full of things I used to think I needed. I will report back in a few days with the progress, or be suffocated under piles of old tube tops and smelly lotion. Either way I will post a photo.




T / antique x industrial chic in yangon

HeaderV3Deep in the Yangon community of Yankin, down an assuming alley and a sweaty climb up to the sixth floor in an apartment block only filled with Myanmar script, you will find the home that Jojo and Jerome built.  And I couldn’t have been more lucky to have done that climb one night when friends invited me to a small get together that Jojo and Jerome were hosting.  I knew I had to come and hear the story behind their beautiful home filled with equal parts elbow grease, a keen eye for beautiful old things and the good sense that walls should get knocked down.

Looking for a change, and a place that wouldn’t make too much trouble about the paperwork involving a bi-national relationship, Jojo, an American, and Jerome, who is from France, were attracted to Myanmar by friends who described the place as a “blank canvas.”  Both left their lucrative finance and consulting gigs in London and made their way over to Yangon in 2014 and have since built careers and reputations as serial entrepreneurs.  And what a little empire they are building with Jojo opening Yangon Yoga House and designing the interior of downtown bespoke bar, Hummingbird and Jerome providing key business development and marketing services local firms.  But this wasn’t necessarily a huge leap from what they were doing before. Before moving to Yangon, Jojo helped to develop, design and build wine crate shelving solutions at Le Petit Monster, and the pair grew a huge collection of collectibles and pretty things throughout all of their homes around the world. Art history, economics and some knowhow around a toolbox goes a long way.

When they first arrived in Yangon, Jojo and Jerome knew they didn’t want to blow all of their money on an expensive condominium or indulge in the upswing of real estate values since Myanmar has slowly opened up to the world. Instead, they chose to invest in a place they could call home, a respite from the chaos of emerging Yangon.  To do that, they had to knock down a literally legally binding wall, strip off the unfortunate lime green laquer adorning their doorways, rearrange some electrical outlets, and endure the pains of DIY in a place where tools of the trade are still scarce and local tastes may conflict.  Nearly one year after moving into their Yankin sixth floor walk-up, the hard work has paid off.  Jojo and Jerome wanted a vintage meets industrial Brooklyn chic apartment in the heart of Yangon and that is exactly what they got.

12---Hallway-TableWith Jojo’s hustling skills (as Jerome describes), the pair also quickly made fast friends with Htet, the owner of Rangoon Tea House.  Through Htet, they met the man who is now their most trusted antiques dealer in Yangon.  That hustle has resulted in one of the most gorgeous homes cum showrooms in the least likely of places.  And as a result, Jojo and Jerome have a constantly evolving home.  Every few months, they acquire a trove of new treasures their new friend keeps an eye out for, immediately contacting them when a new piece arrives that he knows they will like. And after some of their own refurbishment and a short stay with them, the collection of benches, chests, side tables and other coterie originating from Myanmar’s colonial era, make it onto the web for the fastest bid.  Though they do experience some seller’s remorse after the money is handed over.

End-Table--Jojo-and-JeromeHowever, there is one piece the pair will absolutely not handover.  Unless you’re willing to finance their acquisition of several new Chesterfields.  Knowing the difficulty of finding high quality pieces in southeast Asia, Jojo and Jerome searched high and low in the UK for the perfect vintage Chesterfield sofa with the perfect spread of patina from a history of warmed bums. This precious item was subsequently driven 400km around the UK before being stowed away in a shipping container bound for Myanmar.


Top: An original Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Bed. Bottom: That pre-loved chest of drawers comes with its own original lock. Sadly no key, though, so that adornment is there to stay.


Left: The Chagall frame that came all the way from New York when Bernie Madoff’s estate was auctioned off and Jojo bore the winning bid. It sits on one of their most recent local antique acquisitions (right), painted light blue to let the wood shine through.


Upper Right: The impromptu sketch of Jojo by director Michel Gondry. Lower left: Jerome shows off a recently acquired lock box.

Jojo and Jerome’s home is filled with similar prizes collected from sheer will to serendipity. Like the 25kg antique sewing machine they found in Bordeaux, which was hauled by bicycle (and Jerome), plane and train to London and now sits as the legs for their dining room table.  There’s a sketch of Jojo by auteur Michel Gondry which sits proudly framed on a bookshelf.  Another piece for conversation fodder is the antique and genuine Chagall that Jojo acquired when Bernie Madoff’s estate was auctioned away.

Likewise, there are the gems they have collected here. Jerome proudly shared an antique lock box they recently found. And then there’s their equally pre-loved bed, which was fashioned by the historic colonial era Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation and bear’s the company’s well known fan-shaped logo.


The 25kg antique sewing machine base that traveled by bicycle, plane, train, taxi and shipping container from Bordeaux to Yangon via London. With a teak table top, it now carries all the dishes during Jojo and Jerome’s fabulous dinner parties.


Right: One of two Myanmar masks the pair found at Augustine’s Antiques in Yangon during their first visit to Yangon in 2013. They were toted around Asia, lived in a box in London for a year, and are back home in Myanmar adorning the couple’s lovely living room.

So having given this home some skin that’s been burned by paint solvents, the anxious heart palpitations of hauling antique pieces up twelve flights of stairs and the joys of sourcing DIY tools, and all that jazz, Jojo and Jerome have built themselves a most beautiful home that is so perfect for being shown off during dinner parties, game nights, or tiny little design blogs.  I hope you find their home as inspiring as I did.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.



C + T / Kettlebell Café

headerKettlebell Café is now open for business (well sort of, they’re still in their soft opening phase)! Located just next to the Crossfit Amatak gym on the corner of 454/123, Kettlebell Café offers coffee, a juice bar, and healthy breakfast and lunch options. We spoke with Corbett and Olivier last week about the café and how small businesses like this are changing the landscape of Phnom Penh.

corbett-and-olivierCorbett worked as a barista for about 8 years. He calls these “the lost years,” but we think of it as “coffee-snob legitimacy training.” Having worked in the food service, he didn’t come to Cambodia to cook. Corbett landed here because of a podcast, obviously. After teaching English in Korea and living in Japan for a few years, he listened to an episode of This American Life that focused on Cambodia. He decided he would go to graduate school and get a job in Phnom Penh, and that is exactly what he did. (Side note: Corbett was Cait’s first new friend in Cambodia, they landed on the same day.)

After three years working at 17Triggers (a local company that does marketing for good causes), and working on his side businesses in his free time, he has decided to put all of his effort into Amatak and Kettlebell Café.

His interest in health and fitness is nothing new, but he has never been “one of those super fitness people.” Phnom Penh does not lack for restaurants, but it has been missing a healthy, balanced lunch spot. Most options are either filling and fatty or stingy and skinny. “One cannot live on salad alone, or one may chew one’s arm off.” Plato said that, or maybe it was Cait one time when she was hangry…In any case, the goal for the café is balance. The paleo-inspired menu is both healthy and delicious, while keeping reasonable prices and fast service.

coffee---finalTheir coffee is equally delicious.  Although a skilled former barista himself, Corbett sought the help of regional coffee consultant, Jen Green to help source equipment, beans and train staff to produce some fine liquid heaven. As a result, some are known to get their required dose here every morning in the form of a cortado (eg. Tiff).  To make things healthy, though Corbett prefers real dairy himself, almond milk is also offered for the lactose-deterring.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve been to (local coffee shop) and have been the only person in line just to get an espresso and its taken 5 minutes and they give you your water and everything before hand and it’s like “just give me my coffee so I can go.” So we wanted to fill that gap by providing high quality coffee. At a good speed and fair price. No flash.”

Corbett met Olivier, Kettlebell’s chef, when Olivier joined Crossfit in September. He had already been following a Paleo diet, so he was familiar with the ingredients and restrictions. (Though his weakness lies in French pastry, especially the mille feuille. He is, after all, human.) Olivier is from Paris, and he was trained as a chef and worked in some top restaurants serving very French cuisine. He has worked with some of the best restaurants in France, but his family is Cambodian, and he moved here two years ago to be with them.

While in Paris, he also worked for Air France Catering, so he has serious portioning skills. Most of his flavours come from his French influence, and he works with local products to create healthy, delicious, French-ish food, just without the bread and butter. The daily rotating menu keeps things interesting.

“The idea is that we don’t want people to come just once a week, but because the menu is constantly changing, they feel fine coming two or three times a week and enjoy the ‘what do we have today?’ atmosphere; which is also quite different, there aren’t too many places that do that.”


foodgridCambodia is an easy place to set up a business. It’s possible to take risks and be more creative here because there is less to lose and it’s easier to recover. Amatak is the first Crossfit gym in Cambodia, and Kettlebell is the first healthy café of its kind.

 “You can afford to fail here.”

The neighborhood is ripe for change and after these guys moved in, it now really is where the cool kids hang out. For a few years there has been a growing expat community in the neighborhood, but a serious lack of coffee and lunch options. With the opening of new places in the area, “People are keeping their money in the neighborhood for their weekday activities rather than going to BKK or riverside.”

kettlebell2This change has also prompted a pedestrian culture in the area. For those of you that do not live in Phnom Penh, sidewalks here are mostly used to store large vehicles, small vehicles, napping tuk tuk drives, piles of trash, stray dogs, and the occasional family taking a nap. This is to say, people don’t walk around much. But with this neighborhood renewal, you see more and more people walking, meaning less traffic and congestion in the area.


“So I’m not the model of fitness, obviously, but we can help encourage a more balanced lifestyle.”

There is talk of a bike shop (more on that soon), a possible second location of the Crossfit gym is in the works. But for now, the guys are working to fine-tune the current menu, work with portions and pricing, and reach a wider market beyond the expat community. As of now, about 90% of patrons and members are expats, but the vision is to take it further. They want to the area accessible and attractive to locals, and want to create a different kind of community in Russian Market. They are on their way.

Crossfit Amatak and the Kettlebell Café can be found at #45, street 454 (near corner of street 123) in Tuol Tom Puong, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  Kettlebell is still in it’s soft opening phase and are serving a limited number of plates Monday to Friday and only breakfast on Saturdays.  If you would like to book one of their boxed lunches or reserve a plate, check out the Crossfit Amatak Facebook page everyday!


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.


C + T / Alchemy Design Co.


 “We want to make great products. We want to be a business that cares about people and that cares about the planet. That’s a big part of how we perceive the reclaimed wood idea because yes it looks beautiful but it also helps to articulate something in a context that values new money and new things; and the idea that we take something that you think is garbage but turn it into something beautiful.” – Alchemy Design Co.

alchemy-guysOver the past few weeks, we have been able to eat lunch with, take pictures of, and invade the personal space of the guys at Alchemy Design Co. We feel good about this.

Joel, Willem and Jonathan, hail from the US, the Netherlands and Canada, and all landed in Cambodia to do something else. Initially working with another design firm, a solar company and an NGO, these three guys found each other through roommates and the teeny tiny community here in Phnom Penh. After doing some woodworking for fun and selling some pieces here and there, their cool hobby turned into a business, and it’s now thriving.
toolkitThere are a LOT of furniture makers in Phnom Penh, but Alchemy brings something different to the table (oooh…lame pun…sorry). They work exclusively with reclaimed wood that they find in junkyards around the city, and from traditional wooden houses that have been demolished to make way for new concrete houses. These houses are often made of tropical hardwoods. Tropical hardwoods are coveted in other parts of the world, but are commonplace here, making the junkyard treasures that much more exciting. These older woods have also gone through the drying process, meaning the furniture is less likely to crack or change over time. Which is great, because we want their stuff in our houses forever.

“Alchemy is all about changing something from one thing to something completely new.”

They also use scrap and recycled metal, like rebar, for the details of their pieces, creating some of the most interesting stuff in town, or in any town. You won’t find any elephants or 19 layers of glossy finish on top of their stuff, thankfully. Instead, they choose to highlight the unique natural beauty of the wood in each piece. They are quite serious about turning trash into treasure.group2

“Here is the glossy furniture that everyone recognizes as being very expensive, versus the product that’s artfully made, but is less obvious that it’s an expensive product.”

And my goodness, are they busy. With custom work for iThink Asia, Bearhanded Salon, and the classy masses of the ex-pat community of Phnom Penh, they are often working seven days a week to get orders filled in time. They are currently collaborating with an artisan leather worker, and adding new products and accessories to their collection. (Can we pre-order? Yes!) Sadly, Joel and Willem are leaving Phnom Penh for the time being, but they will stay involved, design from abroad, and keep the business going. Jonathan will keep things moving with the help of the local staff and an American they affectionately call “the Guru,” a woodworking pro and psychotherapist. Obviously.

“It feels like we have a lot of momentum right now. It kind of came out of nowhere.”

Moving forward, they are looking to formalize a training program and potentially team up with other local companies with the need for skilled workers. They have big plans, and are seriously about making a great business, and great products, with a unique customer meets manufacturer collaborative workspace and watering hole on the horizon.

group1Now, would you like to buy all the things? Us too. They are currently selling some smaller pieces at the Tonlé shop in Phnom Penh and for their larger pieces, contact them directly through their (gorgeous) website.

We are thrilled to have spent time with this group of dudes, and hope they keep doing their beautiful work for a very, very long time.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.


C / final draft / tiff’s burmese romper

TiffRomper-JumpOh, wow. I’m excited about this one.

The fabric that I brought back from Myanmar, almost a year ago now, has been magically turned into this sassy little number.
IMG_6599It’s not hard to make tiff look great, and she has her own artillery of completely fantastic rompers, including my favorite one that makes her look like a jungle safari guide from 1987. I wanted to make sure that the fit was spot on on, because if it’s off on one of these, you can end up with major dumpybutt and a one-way ticket to frumpytown. Lucky for us, we have Monika, the tailor, and the woman can fit.

We had lots of fun roaming around The Mansion this morning and playing in the ruins of this should-be condemned old place. Luckily, they keep it open as a bar some nights, and nothing could ever go wrong in a creepy old building full of drunk people.

Enough with the words, Decker, let’s see some photos.


Stone cold fox


Let it be known that tiff doesn’t lighten her hair, that’s just the angel light.





I hope you like it! I love it so much. So much.



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T / happy monday!


Photo Credit: The Lab A/S

We hope you’ve all had an excellent start to your Monday!  We certainly have.  Not only has Phnom Penh entered its “cold” season with balmy temperatures around 25°C, but Cait and I are finally in the same place after a vacation separation. WhatsApp can only do so much.  The cherry on top is that I am currently writing this post from our new (but temporary) c+t office!  We will be posting more about our new digs later this week.  In the meantime, we wanted to share this video featuring graphic designer, EmmaDime’s own workspace and how she starts her day.

A Day with Emmadime from Wade on Vimeo.

PS. Isn’t that soundtrack amazing? I’ve been listening to The Derevolutions all year and can’t get enough.