Karen Tan: Experiential Designer

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m a french concept driven experiential designer currently based in Los Angeles. I create immersive environments that connect brands to consumers for experiential marketing and event production. I played a leading role on large scale events and productions for top companies, such as Amazon, Hulu, Nike, Spotify, HBO, Snapchat, Samsung and dozens of others. - http://www.karentandesign.com/

How did you get into the industry?

I started out as a fashion intern in the heart of the fashion district in NYC back in 2008, before discovering that it wasn't a world for me.

I went back to school to further my design education. I hold a degree from Ecole Camondo in Paris and ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. I have worked in the hospitality design industry as an interior designer while having done freelance branding projects.

Being at the crossroads of three different and complementary cultures, and being trilingual lead me to an international career. I worked at various design agencies around the world from Paris to New York, Hong Kong to Los Angeles. I had designed luxury apartments in Hong Kong, pop-up stores and trendy nightclubs in Seoul, at Urbantainer agency.  I worked in between Paris and London assisting the interior architect of LVMH – Arnault Group to design private residentials.

Thanks to ArtCenter’s strong alumni network, I got referred for a job as a freelance experiential designer role and started my career in the event and experiential marketing world, which is a growing market. I now reside in Los Angeles and look to further my creative network.

Any emerging industry trends?

Experiential marketing is a growing market, it helps brands connect with consumers in a new way that creates a deeper emotional connection between customers and a brand through engaging moments, live experiences, etc. Brands are getting away from the traditional marketing to reach the audience in a different way that is more engaging. We’re also creating a blend of experiential marketing and digital marketing. Experiences are extended by sharing through digital and social platforms.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Some of the challenges are staying authentic to the brand and knowing the target audience. Another challenge is keeping up with the new technology and software that dictates the way we design and think. So it’s really important to keep challenging yourself with the creative process.   

Career advice to those in your industry?

As an artist and designer working in this industry, there are always doubts if the client may or may not like your work. But you can’t let that fear get in the way of the creative process. Once you have learned the rules and mastered them, you can start breaking the rules and taking more risks with your designs. Whenever I do that, I find the most satisfaction with my work, and most clients appreciate seeing innovation and fresh ideas.


What makes me the best version of myself?

Being open minded, brave and not afraid to take risks. Taking risks makes me the best version of myself.

What are my aspirations?

I love creating memorable and immersive spaces and seeing people interact with it.

My Motto?

Don’t work harder, work smarter.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Paris is a special place in my heart, it’s a city that reminds me of my previous life . I grew up there and I still have my roots there where my family and childhood friends reside. When I go back, I get inspired by the culture and the way of living. L'art de vivre parisienne is always a reminder to appreciate life and live at a slower pace.

What do you love most about Your City?

The eclecticism of the city including The diversity of cultures, food and fashion, the slow life, the holistic wellbeing lifestyle

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Toasted baguette, salted butter and Sqirl jam. I love Bavel in downtown

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I mostly drink water and tea to get through a long day. I also love to get matcha lattes on the morning.

What should everyone try at least once?

Traveling alone, getting lost in a foreign country, it allowed me to rediscover myself. 

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In museums, or in a new city, exploring the local culture, food, and markets.