We created Graedance with the idea of creating a symbol of unity, of shared experience - that could help people connect and grow together away from isolation. It's through togetherness, that we can embrace confidence and assurance in our identity. At its heart, Graedance is about strengthening community through expressive design, and to inspire you to be the best version of yourself - one that embraces all your intersectional identities to create majesty as the gradient you take up in this world.
The goal of our pocket sized stories is to pack a strong punch, and the first interviewee in our 'grey area' series needed to be someone who was not only comfortable in their identity, but someone capable of weaving their otherness into extraordinary.
Nobody does it better than Jon Kung, a Detroit-based chef who effortlessly combines their personal stories with dishes that amalgamate their experience as a third culture kid - all with confidence and quick wit. Aside from their magnetism and kindness, what drew me to chat with Jon was their unabashed genuineness that was so comforting - almost as much as the food they design.
1. What ‘grey area’ did you believe you occupied, or still occupy now, as an individual growing up?
Because so many parts of me exist in their own areas of otherness whether that be my culture, sexuality, neurodivergence, or professional path it made made life growing up just so constantly uncomfortable. I didn’t understand any sense of place and the security that gives you. I think that forced me to seek a place where I was able to build it from the ground up and after I was able to do that, accept and fully realize myself as a person of that Grey area. These things that set me apart were eventually became things I grew to be comfortable with, then proud of. When I was able to harness my voice and express my view it became something I celebrated daily. Now I couldn’t imagine living any other way or being any other way.
2. Was there a turning point in your life that you felt like you could fully embrace these differences? If so, what was the event or catalyst?
I think it was when I realized that the approval of others did nothing to advance the work I was doing nor did it have any positive affect of my life in general. The joy that comes from living your life free from that weight is unmatched.
3. How does does your individual ‘grey area’ / difference influence the way that you work or the work that you create?
My work celebrates the grey area. The best things come from the grey area. The best food, the best sex, the best fashion. The binary is a cage.
4. What lessons or advice could you give to those trying to embrace their difference / grey area?
It’s not an easy thing to come into but it is so worth it when you can finally embrace it. We’re doing everything we can to make it easier for everyone else.
Jon Kung wears the Desir Ring, Arpo Ring and Abyss Chain Necklace.