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Pentagram’s Natasha Jen visits Bergdorf Goodman when she needs inspiration

Natasha Jen, a partner at design firm Pentagram, takes our career questionnaire.

Pentagram’s Natasha Jen visits Bergdorf Goodman when she needs inspiration
[Illustration: Meryl Rowin]

Fast Company: What’s your best habit, and what’s your worst?

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Natasha Jen: They are one and the same: the urge to solve problems, all problems. The great thing about solving problems is that it brings satisfaction when tasks are complete; on the other hand, I tend to take on too many problems at once.

What do you do when you’re creatively stuck?

Visit Bergdorf Goodman.

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What are the buzzwords you never want to hear again?

“At a high level.” This phrase avoids the real problem, and the resulting outcome from the high-level talk is never high level or specific.

What’s the best mistake you ever made?

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All my mistakes felt terrible, but you learn from them and move on.

How do you unplug?

Watch horror or sci-fi movies.

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Is there a book you recommend to everyone?

The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, a biophysicist. Published in 1987, it’s a book of seemingly simple questions that only you can answer. For example: “Technology has become a part of us. Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles, all telecommunication devices and computers, or one of your hands?”

Is there advice you’re glad you ignored?

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I don’t remember any because I ignored all of it.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

“Just say no.”

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Did you have a career fork in the road?

Staying at a corporation that would sponsor my H1 visa but make me unhappy, or quitting the job (and risk being deported). I chose the latter and found a job at a design studio that I loved.

Do you have a work uniform?

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Jeans, a designer top, and great shoes with 3-inch heels.

Who is your style icon?

André Leon Talley.

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Do you have a favorite object in your office?

A Doraemon figure on my desk.

What is your biggest indulgence?

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Buying designer clothes but never wearing them.

Do you have a favorite form of exercise?

I [took] a swimming class in 2019 and overcame my water phobia. The sense of freedom that
it brings is something that no equipment-based workout can offer.

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Favorite New York Spots

What TV show are you mid-binge on?

The X-Files. I love that it’s not a series; each episode is a case. You dive in for 40 minutes, and you get out.

Do you have a mantra?

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Play while we can.

What is your go-to food for fast fuel?

Fried chicken.

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Is there a meal you still fantasize about?

Taiwanese oyster omelet. I haven’t found any in New York City.

Do you have a “get pumped” song?

“California Love” by Tupac and Dr. Dre.

Is there a meeting you never miss?

Any meeting with a client.

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