"The most important element in design is the people. We design for the people,” says architect Yann Follain, co-founder of WY-TO. With offices in Singapore and Paris, WY-TO works across a large variety and scale of projects from exhibitions, installations and interior design up to cultural, public, residential and mixed-use developments. But despite the size or typology of the project, the focus remains firmly on designing for the end user to improve their daily experience and quality of life. “Good design is not necessarily spectacular. You see what is big and loud, but often you have understated projects that are truly and sincerely changing the lives of people. And this is design you don’t see,” says Yann.
Yann established WY-TO in Singapore in 2010 and opened WY-TO in Paris in 2011 with co-founder Pauline Gandry. The pair met while studying at the prestigious National School of Architecture of Paris-Belleville, and while they joined different architecture practices after graduation, they also collaborated on small-scale interior design projects. In 2009, Yann moved to Singapore to work for studioMilou on National Gallery Singapore, laying the foundation for the future of WY-TO.
South East Asia not only provided a dynamic environment for Yann to explore different areas of architecture, but development in the region spurred the rapid growth of the practice. Museum and exhibition design was a flourishing field and Yann quickly established WY-TO as specialists. From his first exhibition design project, Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal at ArtScience Museum in Singapore, WY-TO has since designed the permanent collection exhibition at National Gallery Singapore and is working on museum projects in India and Indonesia.
While the studio and the scale of projects grow, WY-TO continues to work on smaller interior design projects, refurbishing and building homes and apartments. “Doing interior design projects, you learn about the way people live, their culture, their habits,” Yann says. He designs spaces specifically focused on usage, and to connect with the outdoors despite the high-density living and hot, humid climate. “We live under the tropics, so you need to be able to open the windows – that’s what I promote. To open the windows, the door, to feel the wind, to smell the rain, to feel the heat. That connects you to your environment,” says Yann. It’s certainly the way he likes to live, with lush green gardens at the front and back of his terrace apartment – his “cabinet of curiosities”, as he calls it – and doors and windows wide open at each end.
Understanding and designing for how people live on a small scale help WY-TO develop projects at a large scale. Yann describes this as an “inside-out phenomenon”. In high-rise towers, mixed-use developments or school campuses, WY-TO designs the single unit – an apartment, office or classroom – based on usage, views, light and ventilation, while at the same time developing the building or environment to consider the full user experience and passive solar principles, screening from the hot sun and opening to prevailing windows: “People’s wellbeing and comfort is paramount.”
This emphasis on designing for people is evident in WY-TO’s self-initiated humanitarian and community engagement projects. “It is a way of giving back and contributing to the people who are most in need and deserving of a better living environment,” says Yann. WY-TO’s first project, Living Shelter for Disaster Relief, exhibited at Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2016. The flat-pack capsule can be shipped and easily assembled to provide emergency accommodation for people experiencing natural disasters in tropical environments. Mobile Lotus, for which WY-TO was shortlisted in The Influencer category of the 2018 INDE.Awards is a floating platform that provides an infrastructure hub to support the communities living on Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia. These projects demonstrate WY-TO’s core philosophy that design must serve a cause and respond to genuine, human needs.
In 2016, Yann received a Europe 40 Under 40 award from The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, being recognised as an important and promising emerging young architect. He continues to prove and build on that reputation, designing buildings and spaces to improve the quality of life for everyday people. “Being an architect is not being a star,” he says. “Being an architect is helping to change the world.”
WY-TO wy-to.comPhotography by Khoo Guo Jie We also think you might like to read about Airbnb Head Designer Alex Schleifer abc
Elwood Residence by Doherty Design StudioWhat was the concept behind the kitchen in Elwood Residence? We wanted to use the material palette to create a really simple scheme that was monochromatic yet quite dramatic. The drama of this kitchen lies with its materiality and so we wrapped the island’s stone benchtop towards the floor. But rather than connect with the ground like a traditional waterfall edge, we kept the stone floating and continued the flooring up the island bench instead. There’s a real play on geometry and form that places a dynamic and sculptural element at the heart of this kitchen. How did you arrive at the material palette for Beechworth Residence’s kitchen? This home was supposed to be a temporary residence for the clients while they built the main house on their holiday property. They had a local draughtsperson draw up the plans and after we got involved they told us about their time spent living in Japan and how they go back there every year. We spoke of the simplicity of Japanese living and the idea of a small footprint and how in Japan there’s an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. So we integrated these ideas into our design to better reflect a Japanese lifestyle. The kitchen features a lot of handmade elements, including the Japanese tiles and poured concrete benchtops, and where possible we tried to use local materials. The most interesting thing about this project is that the clients are now so happy with the outcome that they’re not going to build the other house anymore.
Beechworth Residence by Doherty Design StudioDo you have strengths as a practice that are particularly useful when designing a statement kitchen? We’re always thinking about that sense of drama in a space and we make sure to choose our moments. Generally, our palette is quite pared back and refined, however, we’ll add a pop of colour or a material that will stand out. We always consider the addition of some sort of visual drama to every space we design. What is the next big trend in kitchen design? I think this idea of the kitchen as a seamless extension of the rest of the home’s joinery, rather than some isolated, utilitarian workplace, will continue to grow. And I also think designers are going to push the notion of the dramatic kitchen much further. Doherty Design Studio dohertydesignstudio.com.au Photography by Derek Swalwell We think you might also like the Top 4 Kitchens from Habitus House of the Yearabc
The Enrico Taglietti Symposium takes place Friday, November 16 at the James O Fairfax Theatre. The event is sure to be a sell out highlight on a calendar of highlights for DESIGN Canberra 2018, so if you're interested, get those tickets now!inabc
What if we designed a kitchen around the way we cook?The modern kitchen is as much about socialising or relaxing as it is cooking or preparing food. For Fisher & Paykel this led to the development of the concept of the distributed kitchen. Essentially, this means separating the basic components of a kitchen, which in turn allows for more flexibility and easy movement within the space. For example, the savvy designer might install a CoolDrawer™ Multi-temperature Drawer for drinks near the dining table, and perhaps a DishDrawer™ dishwasher for crockery by the sink, with another one for glasses by the bar.
The Cazadero A-frameDesign-savvy couple Daniel and Brit Epperson redesigned the small, awkward kitchen of their rustic cabin in the woods to better cater to their particular needs and lifestyle. The result is a charming, unconventional design, with two ovens and two separate CoolDrawers in places of a single refrigerator. This designer couple created warmth and intimacy with a striking, minimal all-black kitchen set into a soaring space painted all white. Set among mature redwoods on the bank of the Austin Creek in Cazadero, the cabin is nestled amongst a small, former logging community in western Sonoma County, CA. The timber A-frame cabin is a classic of its kind, combining a small footprint with high, sloping ceilings and large internal spaces. “The redwoods are both wonderful and terrible, because they’re so majestic but they block out the sun,” says Daniel, who is a design director with bicoastal studio Rapt. “The cabin is also built out of redwood timber, which is very porous, so over the years it had soaked up the smell of smoke, dog, and who knows what else from along the Bohemian Highway.” Brit, who founded the architectural studio PLOW, opened up the rear wall of the cabin, which overlooks the deck and river, with large areas of asymmetric glazing to bring in more light. The couple then repainted the entire interior white, effectively creating a blank canvas to bounce the light off. “Having this brilliant white box in the woods allowed us to maximize the effect of any sunlight we could bring in,” says Daniel. “So that became the shell within which we were working, and we could play with contrasts or soft tones of color.”
The KitchenThough still modest in size, the kitchen was originally only half its present size. An awkward partition under the mezzanine created an internal hallway to the bathroom along its inner wall, which the couple quickly removed. Structurally, the kitchen was built out of Ikea cabinets that Brit and Daniel hacked by using the framed box and building their own custom front and side panels faced with Valchromat, a recycled engineered wood product. The metal they chose for the visible surfaces within the kitchen was both an economic decision and an aesthetic one, says Daniel. “We wanted to find an inexpensive way of doing a really terrific kitchen. The metal, which is a cold-rolled sheet of blackened steel, is a unique material that will develop a patina over time, but also be super durable, and again very cost effective.” After the dark colour, the most immediately noticeable difference between this and a traditional kitchen is the lack of a standing fridge and the addition of two wall-mounted ovens, a conscious decision on the part of the designers. Being primarily the spot of a weekend away, the appliances are distributed around the kitchen for flexibility. The use of the two separate CoolDrawers™ under the counter in different spots in place of one fridge is a unique and arresting design choice. Wine can be chilled, or weekend food can be stored, while the two ovens allow Daniel and Brit to, for example, bake bread and roast meat at the same time. “It just works really well for us,” says Daniel. “Our counter space is at a premium, and we just didn’t need a giant refrigerator. This way, we can have the L-shaped counter. That was a very strategic decision. It doesn’t need to be more than what it is.” And then, there’s the table. A weighty, sculptural piece made of blush-coloured Rojo Alicante marble, at first glance it could easily be mistaken for part of a contemporary collection from a Bay Area design studio. In fact, it’s another inexpensive kitchen hack. “I bought it off Craigslist for $200,” laughs Daniel. “It was really a diamond in the rough. Originally it was a rectangle shape, in a weird, 90s, Italian kind of style, covered in a thick, resin-like finish that made it look almost orange.” Fisher & Paykel fisherpaykel.com/au abc
Ricci Bloch Architecture + Interiorsriccibloch.com.au Architect Ricci Bloch only established her eponymous studio in 2016 and has already built a notable portfolio of quietly sophisticated projects. The small practice’s residential work is particularly memorable for capturing a quintessentially Sydney aesthetic that’s bright and breezy, effortless and elegant. Natural light floods interiors, material and colour palettes are tastefully pared back and the connection between inside and outside is always strong. Ricci and her team eschew superfluous detail for clean lines and sharp angles and in delivering their characteristically minimalist style, reveal a knack for making even the most compact of spaces function super efficiently. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="82280,82282"] [gallery columns="4" size="medium" ids="82281,82283,82284,82285"]
Sharp House, Dover Heights Photography by Tom Ferguson
Ritz & Ghougassianritzghougassian.com The Melbourne-based dream team of Ritz & Ghougassian has created quite the buzz of late – and with good reason. Co-directors Gilad Ritz and Jean-Paul Ghougassian are responsible for designing some of the most exciting hospitality and residential projects to come out of the Victorian capital in the past three years. Their recently completed Highbury Grove House exemplifies the practice’s dynamic grasp of materiality, which heroes the singular material palettes that have come to define their distinct aesthetic. Concrete blockwork is the dominant material in the Highbury Grove project and it gives rise to an austere appearance that’s tempered by timber joinery and the use of white lightweight curtains. While Ritz and Ghougassian may take their architecture very seriously, they also have an infectious sense of humour that informs everything they do, ensuring their approach is peppered with playfulness and open conversation. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="82286,82288"] [gallery size="medium" ids="82287,82289,82290"]
Highbury Grove House, Prahran Photography by Tom Blachford
Ha Architecture, Product and Environmenth-a.com.au Originally from Adelaide and now based in Melbourne, Nick Harding established multi-disciplinary studio Ha in 2012. Since then, the architect and practice founder has been consistently building a body of residential work that exemplifies an understanding of affordable housing strategies and a commitment to sustainability in architecture. Ha’s small team is as well versed in delivering compact apartment renovations (see Yarra’s Edge Apartment) as it is in working with heritage constraints to design an addition to a classic Edwardian weatherboard (see The Kensington Cathedral). Strong spatial and material sensibilities prevail – regardless of the project’s size and scale – as does an intelligent design approach that never forces the outcome. [gallery columns="5" size="medium" ids="82274,82273,82272,82270,82271"]
The Kensington Cathedral, Kensington Photography by Dan Hocking[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="82277,82279"] [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="82276,82278"]
Yarra Edge’s Apartment, Docklands Photography by Dan Hocking
Triastrias.com.au Earlier this year, Trias’ Three Piece House picked up an award in the Residential Architecture – Houses (New) category of the 2018 NSW Architecture Awards. Not a bad achievement for the Sydney-based practice, which was only founded two years prior to the win by Jonathon Donnelly, Casey Bryant and Jennifer McMaster. The Co-directors bring a diverse range of skills and experience to the studio, which takes its name from Vitruvius’ principles of architecture, defined as firmness, commodity and delight. In adopting these values, they aim to create buildings that are solid, simple and beautiful. Truth be told, they’ve already achieved this goal and with projects currently underway in both Australia and the UK, it’s well worth waiting to see what they come up with next. [gallery size="medium" columns="4" ids="82294,82292,82291,82296"] [gallery columns="4" size="medium" ids="82293,82295,82297,82298"]
Three Piece House, Newcastle Photography by Ben Hosking
Zuzana and Nicholaszuzanaandnicholas.com Architects Zuzana Kovar and Nicholas Skepper met while studying at the University of Queensland and in 2013 the couple established Zuzana & Nicholas. Their Brisbane-based studio has a reputation for creativity and innovation, with both co-founders also maintaining an active research and exhibition practice. Along with their growing residential portfolio, this has made them the darlings of Australia’s vibrant emerging architects scene. Zuzana & Nicholas’ projects may vary in size, but all are characterised by a fresh interpretation of Queensland’s classic architectural vernacular. Interiors are light and bright, material palettes are stripped back and spatial considerations are informed by clear connections to the outdoors. They’re very much interested in the way people live and how to facilitate the best outcome for each of their clients. [gallery size="medium" ids="82305,82306,82307"]
Norman Park House, Norman Park Photography by Toby Scott[gallery size="medium" ids="82301,82300,82299"] [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="82302,82303"]
Monash Road House, Tarragindi Photography by Toby Scottabc