Today we’d like to introduce you to Aman Dembe.
Aman, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I believe it all started as an idea in my subconscious when I was a lad. Naturally, everyone at that age has the wildest and outlandish dreams for the future. I wanted to be an astronaut, a scientist, a wrestler, computer engineer, pilot and so on. When I grew up and looked back, I realized there was one thing I had a knack for, creative problem-solving. My parents would let me take apart telephones, VCRs, computers and even doorknobs in an attempt to fix them and in most cases I got the job done. With this, I started learning more about the creative world, and dabbled in arts and crafts, debates and anything that would push me to think in more ways than one. On the weekends, I had a schedule of playing football with my friends for most of the day, and in the evening, I would spend time in the kitchen watching my sisters cook. As I grew up, they taught me how to cook (as per custom in African households) and eventually, I was able to make food for the entire family. With this, I developed my passion as a food enthusiast.
Fast forward a few years after high school, I transferred to Malaysia for my Associate’s Degree. At this point, I discovered that the passion I had as a child is in Multimedia Design which involved photography, graphics, animation and videography. After attaining my degree, I still felt like I did not get to expand my creative problem solving as much as I anticipated. It is when I discovered Steve Job’s and Dieter Ram’s work, which led me to discover Industrial Design. I learnt a lot from this discipline and felt my creative skills expand while studying at CSULB. At this point, I decided to start my brand Duxedraft as a creative studio that explores the disciplines of both industrial and multimedia design.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been full of potholes, but sometimes God provides a respite of smoothness to get things going. One of the struggles I encountered with both brands was coming up with an identity. It can be straining to come up with something that would set me apart from other studios and food blogs. I’ll eventually discover my niche slowly but surely, as I learn and collaborate with other creatives. The other struggle is establishing a client base. Many people are a bit reluctant when it comes to trusting upcoming brands. In retrospect, I do not see these as struggles but stepping stones that will take me to the next level.
Please tell us about Duxedraft Studios and Duke Chops.
Duxedraft: This brand is still new but well en route on becoming a well-rounded company. Duxedraft aims to be a hub that provides creative solutions for different client needs, based on my skills in art direction, product design, graphics design, motion graphics, multimedia and so forth. Apart from providing these services to my clients. I also aim to have self-branded products recognized under my brand entity, in the area of soft goods. What’s most important at Duxedraft is creative problem solving through design research, to reach a solution that satisfies a client and target market.
Duke Chops: As with Duxedraft, this is another startup still in the works of becoming a full-fledged company. Duke Chops is well known for experimenting with different recipes and techniques to come up with new and flavourful recipes. I may not have training in the culinary arts, but years of home cooking and reading different materials has helped in expanding my knowledge. I believe what that makes Duke Chops standout is its minimalist and simplistic approach to food in plating, photography and publishing.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Ah, this takes me back! My most favourite memory would definitely be when we would gather around the fire at night and the elders would share stories. I lived in a very diverse African community so each person had some stories to share based on their tribe. Grandma always had some interesting stories and riddles. This is my favourite memory because I was living in a time where nothing else mattered. The only thing I had to do was go to school, do homework, sleep and so on. Now there’s much more responsibility being an adult.
Lucas Vilicich and Joy Watanabe (Pictures with people only)