Fabricating objects in a changed world with Domus Vim
Images supplied by Ian Tran, above image is 'Dinner A La Perspex'.
Object maker and architect Ian Tran bedazzled us with his iridescent lamps and melting mirrors. Ian found his path to architecture at a young age and quickly fell into the industry after interning at Domus Vim, a laser cutting and architectural model making studio. While working there he realised the skills gained at this position could be applied to other areas of design and the rest, you may say, is history. Ian takes us through what changed, how the pandemic has influenced his work and where Domus Vim is going.
What’s your background and how did you get into architecture?
My background is in Architecture. Throughout high-school I enjoyed the subjects with less reading and writing, Art, Design and Tech was great because it was practical and hands on.
When it was time to think about what degree I wanted to do, my uncle gave me a work internship at his architecture practice. I was building models and drafting and I guess from there architecture was something I could see myself doing.
Although now I am not working in architecture, I feel that I definitely apply the skills I have learnt to Domus Vim, whether that be in how I represent ideas or think through design problems.
Tell us about the history of Domus Vim and how you got to where you are today.
Domus Vim was originally a design studio focused on providing laser cutting services and architectural model making services to architects and students. In my second year of my undergraduate degree in architecture, I got an internship at Domus Vim to help out with the laser cutting services. Over the next year or so, I ended up taking over the business. I realised quickly that the skills learnt and the services we provided could be applied to many other aspects of design. Over the next 4 years I was working on all sorts of projects to help refine what I wanted to do. I would say yes to projects that I had never done before. Some would be great and some I would never want to do again. 8 years on and I guess i’m still going through that process, but if you ask what I do, I guess I would say Domus Vim is an object fabrication studio.
Flat Pack Lamp designed by Domus Vim, you can get it here.
How has the events of the world in 2020 changed things for you? Has your practice changed?
2020 was one hell of a year. It was definitely an eye opener in running a business. 2020 was the first year that I would be able to manage Domus Vim full time without the distraction of study. I had just graduated from my Masters in Architecture and was excited to see the year through.
During Autumn, we are normally busy with managing installations and designs for Sydney’s vivid festival, consulting and working with artists on how to best realise their projects. With the cancellation of Vivid and many more events throughout Sydney, we saw our clients drop off one by one quite rapidly and realised that we would need to ‘pivot’ to ensure that Domus Vim would continue.
Prior to 2020, I had never even thought to make my own products. I was comfortable (in hindsight, complacent) with where the business was, I was happy to work with others on their designs.
In an effort to create a new stream of income, I started working on a few homeware projects which in turn gained attention from people not only in Sydney, but all around the world. This really helped kick in a new drive to push the business in a way where I could also push my own creativity.
Tell us about the projects that transpired during the pandemic.
During the pandemic I started an art series called ‘Dinner A La Perspex’ which was more of a fun project inspired by my love of food. During this time we saw the hospitality industry also take a large hit from closures and I guess it was a little fun way to pay homage and garner attention for the restaurants I love in Sydney.
Droop Mirror in gold, you can get it here.
Do you have a favourite project that you’ve worked on so far? Why?
I would have to say the Dinner A La Perspex series has been my favourite project thus far, they were fun little design exercises without the constraints of clients. It was just a project where I got to do whatever I wanted.
Dinner A La Perspex is Ian’s homage to some of his favourite eateries, immortalising dishes in perspex—something that he’s especially good at.
What do you love about what you do?
Domus Vim is a non-stop learning curve. In this process I get to meet designers from all fields of design. This opportunity to collaborate with them and see design through a different lens is something I love as it really pushes and expands your perspective on how you solve problems.
Where to from now? What’s in store for you/Domus Vim?
We’re currently working on opening an online store to house our homewares and also be a marketplace for designers which we collaborate with over the next year.
In terms of larger projects, we are currently in works to produce installations for a few global brands which I’m excited about as we are now realising our own ideas.