Product Image


Back to All December 21, 2023 Profile
People: A chat with Ed Ngai on New York, his curated home and cardigans

Living in New York, Ed Ngai has curated an incredible home full of beautiful, cherished objects. We ask Ed about his inspirations, favorite pieces, the extensive cardigan collection and his most recent venture, Nigh Collective.

We have been delighted to work with you over the last year and can't wait to see how it evolves. Firstly, though, can you fill us in on your journey so far, what you do, and how you got here?

It’s funny because I actually have had a hard time answering the “what do you do” question lately, but recently I’ve landed on being a product designer and content creator. Two years ago, after moving into a new apartment, I decided to share my experience with styling the space on social media, and it just sort of grew from there. I had been working a 9-5 at the time in digital product design, then earlier this year, decided to fully focus on creating content and products for interiors. It’s been a fun journey so far and I’ve loved working with great brands like Noho. 

What does a typical day in the life of Ed look like?

My days start with a coffee in the morning and more recently, a smoothie. If it’s a great day, I might make it to the gym. Work-wise, I split my time pretty evenly between running a home goods brand and creating short-form content. Lately, for Nigh Collective, this means brainstorming new products and stories to tell. Luckily, these experiences blend in with the content well. It’s been fun sharing the process with my audience and getting feedback through that.

New York is such an amazing place to visit for us outsiders but what do real locals do in the city?  Food, shopping, entertainment.

I wouldn’t consider myself a real local just yet, but after 4 years of living here, I feel like I’m still always discovering new places in New York and that’s the best part. I mostly spend my time in Brooklyn and have been enjoying exploring Greenpoint, where my new creative studio is. Some of my favorite food spots lately have been MáLà Project, Rolo’s, and Ceremonia Bake Shop (which might have the best breakfast burrito in NYC). I love shopping in the Lower East Side in Manhattan at stores like 3sixteen and stopping by Chinatown for a quick bite on the way home. The music scene is also great out here and I’ll usually find myself at a concert or catching my friends DJing at a local bar on the weekends.

We fell in love with your interior design aesthetic as soon as we landed on your Instagram page. Can you tell us about where your appreciation of design comes from?

Looking back, I think it came from a variety of places. There’s the sneakers I used to collect, like Nike SB Dunks, that came in so many great colorways and were full of stories to be told. It could also be the fact that I grew up in a time where the world was still transitioning between analog and digital, and every year it felt like there was a new product experience that was pushing the envelope of design. My family owns a print shop, and being surrounded by design early on definitely played a role as well. 

Product Image

Mid-century, modern, Memphis. What eras are you most influenced by?

Hands down mid-century. As a traditionally trained engineer turned designer, I think that this era of design has been the most influential in how I approach designing my home. I resonate with the thought process around balancing function and form, and always find myself inspired by the explorations of natural materials and manufacturing processes during this era.

What is your most cherished item of furniture?

I’d have to say it’s my 606 Universal Shelving System from Vitsoe. It was really my first introduction to modular furniture. As someone who’s worked on design systems in the past, it was exciting to discover this area of furniture and find similarities between it and my work at the time. It’s quickly become my favorite category of design now and I can’t wait to bring the Vitsoe system along whenever I decide to move.

What draws you to a piece of furniture? Are there any interesting stories behind your pieces?

There is a human element to every piece of furniture and I tend to gravitate towards pieces that carry stories which align with my own communities and design philosophy. As I look around the space, what I love about many of these pieces is that I can associate a very specific human moment to each one, whether that’s an in-depth conversation about it with the person I got it from or a specific interaction that inspired me to get it. There’s a sense of connection with others these items can give upfront, and on the back end, a lot of stories that can be made as they exist in your space.

What’s been interesting for me since I got my USM pieces, has been interacting with the passionate community surrounding the brand. There are a lot of people doing amazing projects with the system like Noel Mercado and Devon Ojas, which is a testament to the versatility of USM, but also its ability to resonate with a variety of cultures.

Product Image

What piece of furniture is next on your shopping list? Do you have a dream piece you’d love to own one day?

I’ve been mostly shopping for the studio lately, so there's been a lot of functional storage and work tables on the shopping list. One of those is the Field Desk by Teenage Engineering. I’ve also been really into sculptural sofas with hints of chrome and would love to own the Soriana Sofa by Afra and Tobia Scarpa one day.

You recently founded Nigh collective and launched your own product, congratulations. How has the process been?

Thank you! The brand has been a concept I’ve had since the beginning of the year and to have it actually out in the world feels a bit surreal. One of the things people don’t really tell you about starting a business is all the small little things you have to learn to do along the way. There’s a new problem to be solved each day and I’ve been enjoying that part of the journey. Having launched my first product for a few weeks now, the support I’ve gotten from others has meant the most to me. It’s been a fairly lonely journey to start, but the personal connections these products create is what keeps me going.

Any sneaky insights into what's next for Nigh Collective?

I have a few more throw pillows on the way that explore the balance between function and form. Longer term, my focus next year is really to just be a student of the craft. It should be a fun year of learning and collaborations, and I’m excited to work with a few friends along the way. I also look forward to continuing sharing this process and hopefully inspire others to create alongside me.

We have looked at a lot of your content, and one thing is very clear: you own a lot of cardigans. What makes them so good for you, and which is your favorite?

Haha, I think I’m just getting to that stage in life where I’ve found what I like, and I stick to it (which is a great feeling). My favorites have been the ones from Engineered Garments. They’re all so high quality and versatile enough to wear all the time.

Product Image

And a few quick-fire questions to finish.

What is your favorite time of day? 3-8pm

What is your favorite season? Spring

What is your favorite book (and favorite chair to read it in)? The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom in an Eames LCW

If you could have dinner with two famous people, dead or alive, who would they be? Dieter Rams and Anthony Bourdain

Follow Ed on Insta @ed.ngai or TikTok @edngai
Take a look at Nigh Collective at nighcollective.com