Interview & Photographs By Justin Chung

Gabbi Sun & Tyler Thomas, Venn Studio

Los Angeles, CA

July 7, 2020
Los Angeles, CA

There's something quite special in exploring people's homes and catching a glimpse into their world; from the overall design aesthetic to how it's been lived in and used over the years. With my growing interests in design and architecture, I've often turned to my friend, architect, Tyler Thomas, for questions, thoughts, and advice. Especially these days, as my wife and I begin our hunt for our first home, I'm fortunate to be able to bounce ideas and share new listings with Tyler and gain insight of the process and learn more about what designs can be done.

Tyler, along with his business partner, Gabbi Sun, run Venn Studio, an architecture studio based in Los Angeles. In getting to know them and their studio, I really love their overall ethos of timelessness and building something that focuses on the needs first.

Below are more photographs and a brief interview with Gabbi and Tyler at their studio:

There’s something quite tangible, approachable about your work. Can you explain a little bit about the ethos and approach of your studio?

TT & GS: We truly believe that a well-designed space should always feel comfortable and approachable. Architecture is designed for people and there isn’t a one size fits all design or style. At the core of Venn Studio’s design process we make it a point to analyze the specific needs of each of our clients. Only through this exploration are we able to determine factors like the materials to be used, appropriate proportions based on the human scale and function, or how a space’s aesthetic will develop. When it comes to things we can see and touch, we enjoy pairing materials such as natural woods, ceramics, stones, and steel and avoid using products that are too precious. Spatial quality and proportion are also a big focus of our design approach. The size of a room, quality of light, the height of ceilings and even doorway sizes all affect people in how comfortable they are in a space. Less is more–we try not to over design or get caught up in trends. Each project has a unique set of design goals and we go through an extensive iterative process to get just the right “feel” for each design solution. It's a complex balance of understanding space, material quality, functionality, cost, durability, and sustainability. At its best, we strive for our work to be approachable, not simplistic, rather inclusive.

Founded in 2017, Venn Studio works on a variety of project types ranging from remodels, custom residential design, commercial tenant improvements and multi-family developments.

Outside of architecture and design, what are some of your other interests, and how do they influence your work?

GS: You can usually find me out and about (Pre-Covid). Staying active with working out, rock-climbing, getting together with family and friends, and travelling. Surprisingly, all these activities and social interactions continue to inspire our work at Venn Studio! Getting to explore other types of buildings, outdoor spaces, and different cities around the world are a constant source of learning new perspectives of design. Getting to travel and seeing how other cultures approach architecture and design helps us to consider new materials and use of space. I really enjoy learning about our body mechanics when working out. While I’m rock climbing I get to actively exercise my problem-solving skills which we use every day in design. With big and small social gatherings I’m constantly analyzing how a space can be multi-functional for different sizes of groups.

TT: I really enjoy cooking with and for friends. I am not saying that I’m good, it's just something I really enjoy doing and try to prioritize. I love how immediate and gratifying cooking a good meal can be when compared to the lengthy process of our creative work. Much of what we do revolves around sitting in front of a computer or being on our phones, so when it comes to cooking I like that I’m on my feet using my hands and senses to create something. Spending time around other people doing different things is always so inspiring to me. An out of town friend recently asked me why I liked living in LA and my immediate response was because I love the diversity of people living here. I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many other creative people working in food, fashion, and business. It keeps me thinking and inspired.
What are your design influences?

GS: I’m heavily influenced by international architects and furniture designers who push the boundaries of design in a paired back manner. Japanese designers reveal how they’ve mastered the craft of building, honor the delicacy in natural materials, and design space so efficiently. I also admire the effortless design approach of Australian architecture that has an emphasis on simplicity and indoor/outdoor residential spaces.

TT: I don’t think Gabbi and I could count the number of times that we have sent each other the same article, post or photograph of some design project we are inspired by. They are almost always from international designers or fabricators. I think what we are picking up on are all the different ways that design can be approached outside of our immediate sphere. That’s one of the great parts about the internet, it has allowed us to share and learn about means and methods of other cultures.

What is most gratifying about your work?

GS: I love getting to collaborate with so many unique and fun individuals, families, and brands to bring their project visions to life. Seeing a concept develop from simple ideas to a built project will never get old and forever be a grateful process of creation. Venn Studio’s designs will surpass us in our lifetime and be a part of the built environment for years to come. Knowing that is such an incredible motivating thought that continues to push us to create timeless architecture projects.

TT: We realized early on that a huge part of this profession is about staying on your toes and keeping an open mind. We’re constantly learning about new things, problem solving and adapting. Each project and client comes with its own unique set of parameters and challenges. It can be so gratifying to learn about the intricacies and preferences our custom residential clients have for their dream homes, or hearing about how our commercial clients plan to build and grow their businesses through physical space. It feels like everyday we get to learn a little bit about a lot of things - and it becomes about incorporating those things into our work. ●