Meet The Seattle Design Visionaries Championing Diversity


designers Whitney Maehara and James Fung

Photo: Courtesy NB Design Group

In 2018, Seattle design vanguards Whitney Maehara and James Fung took the helm at storied interiors firm NB Design Group, ushering in a new chapter for the design house. With them, the duo brought their shared passion for highlighting diverse points of view, both in the studio and out. Read on to learn how they’re putting that mission into action.

What were your goals when you took over NB Design Group?

Whitney Maehara: Originally, our goal was to continue NBDG’s reputation in luxury design; however, we also saw this as an opportunity to use our business as a platform to make room for diverse voices.

Living room with white armchairs facing black coffee table in front of modern artwork and fireplace

Photo: Kevin Scott

You recently launched the Northwest chapter of the AAPI Design Alliance (AAPIDA). Why did you take this on?

James Fung: When we first started, we just wanted to do good design. Eventually, we wanted to find ways to speak more to our experiences as POC designers and business owners and bolster our AAPI community. It’s essential that we have AAPI creative representation here because the Northwest aesthetic is rooted in the influences of the Asian American community.

What’s next?

WM: One of the core pillars of AAPIDA is mentorship, and we continue to work with students and new creatives to bring them into this industry and create more representation.

JF: We know a rising tide lifts all boats.