Cultured Magazine

Fall 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 126 of 215

Not everyone has yet heard of Kulapat Yantrasast, the Bangkok-born architect, 46, who founded the design firm wHY a decade ago… but they will soon. Seemingly all of a sudden, his work is penetrating the culture at large. In his adopted hometown of Los Angeles (where he built himself a strikingly open, surprisingly sensuous concrete home in Venice Beach), Yantrasast and his team are in the throes of designing the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, a boldface project from the Guess Jeans founders that will be housed in an old Masonic temple. He's also designed major art galleries in town, such as the David Kordansky Gallery and the Perry Rubenstein Gallery, as well as the humble Art Bridge over the Los Angeles River made from recycled trash, of all things. Yantrasast's work can be sampled on the East Coast, too. He designed the cafe and retail spaces of the newly opened Clark Center building at the Clark Art Institute in the Berkshires, a project by his mentor, Tadao Ando, and he delicately conceived galleries for the new Harvard Art Museum (by Renzo Piano), which debuts this fall. Sitting in the small SoHo loft the firm uses as a New York outpost, Yantrasast is chatty, friendly and funny—it turns out that being serious about architecture doesn't mean you have to be a bore (part of his firm is devoted to creating cutting-edge furniture and unclassifiable art objects). He has a remarkable number of metaphors to talk about the practice of architecture. You can hear and see the creative wheels spinning. "One way I think about architecture is: if that building were a person, would I go talk to him at a party?" he says. "Sometimes a building is like a person who came to the party in an outfit that says, 'look at me!'" "Quiet" is a word Yantrasast keeps coming back to for his work, though he's not opposed to creating a dramatic form now and again. "I like to do that sometimes," he says. "But I tend to balance it more with a long-term look at what that architecture needs to serve." Perhaps that approach is the reason that he has been commissioned to do so much museum work at a young age—including the type of master-planning consultation he is doing for the Worcester Art Museum. Usually architects wait decades to get those projects. Yantrasast's fans include mega-dealer and former museum director, Jeffrey Deitch, a longtime friend who has recommended him for several residential projects. "I was always impressed that he has this combination of architectural brilliance and a deep understanding of the role of architecture can play in supporting art," says Deitch. "There are so many brilliant architects who aren't comfortable unless "One way I think about architecture is: if that building were a person, would I go talk to him at a party?" —Kulapat Yantrasast The David Kordansky Gallery reopens in its new digs with Rashid Johnson's "Islands." CULTURED 125

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cultured Magazine - Fall 2014