Drop Ins: Venn Studio's Tyler Thomas

We believe in the power of routines and finding meaning in the ways we sew comfort into our everyday surroundings. Drop Ins is a series that explores just that, taking a dressed-down look at the lives of people who inspire us.

Tyler Thomas understands that when it comes to architecture and design, there’s simply no one-size-fits-all approach, even here in LA, where many of the sun-drenched, Bouganvilla-covered spaces are marked by mid-century modern furnishings, rattan rugs, and carefully considered house plants. “At the heart of our studio is our clients,” explains Thomas who co-founded Venn Studio with his business partner Gabbi Sun. “We like to approach design not through a particular aesthetic or design trend, but by listening to the needs of our clients.” 

And while for many of us, the state of the world has caused us many to think differently about our definition of home — and how we occupy it — for Thomas, his vocation has allowed him to think about personal space through the prism of architecture and its function. “I was always really interested in the idea that the spaces and buildings we dwell in were shaped and designed by people,” he says. “ I love learning about people’s preferences and how they're affected by environmental design. It’s what makes my work really gratifying.” We caught up with Thomas at his empty office space in West Adams to find out how he’s keeping tabs on his mental health, what’s keeping him inspired, and his favorite building in LA (we just had to).

Did you always know you wanted to be an architect?

Yeah, I would definitely say so. Even before I understood what architecture is really like as a profession, I was always interested in the idea that the spaces and buildings we dwell in were shaped and designed by people. We don’t actually physically build things, we design them and come up with creative ways to address the needs of individuals, businesses and functions.

Describe your own aesthetic in 5 words.

What I aim for: timeless, textured, natural, comfortable, & dynamic.

Best thing about being your own boss? The hardest thing?

Best thing is having the opportunity to choose what part of the business to work on each day. Hardest part is trusting that I am prioritizing the right things knowing how much needs to get done.

How have you kept inspired during a time when many of our regular outlets for getting outside are limited?

I have been really inspired by the way that other small business owners are adapting to the changing times and how they are relating to their customers/clients. Like most, everything we do now is completely digital from client meetings to presentations to video walkthroughs with the contractors building our projects. This shift to all digital means we are spending more time online than ever, so there is so much content to consume and be inspired by.

LA is such an interesting city for design

Mexico City for its density, texture, and character. So many interesting spaces and buildings there with a variety of influences. When looking around the city, you are often left wondering how they pulled off that floating staircase with no guard rail, or how that restaurant functions in such a tiny space; then you remember they don’t quite have the same building codes that we have here.

Favorite building in LA?

Department of Water and Power Building in Downtown LA by Albert C. Martin and Associates in 1965. It’s an office building and, because of the pandemic, it's ages behind the way that we will use office space in the near future.

How are you keeping tabs on your mental health lately? Is there something small that you don’t skip?

Taking time to check in with myself and remembering to check in with friends and family has been really helpful. Working from home and from my empty office has led to this pressure to constantly perform. It can feel like overtime with this overarching sense of urgency to stay on top of everything. But, I have to remember to pause and take time to make sure I am pacing myself.

Working from home and from my empty office has led to this pressure to constantly perform...But, I have to remember to pause and take time to make sure I am pacing myself.
What’s giving you comfort these days?

Simple things really...knowing that I still have a job, that I am healthy and can go outside and enjoy our nice weather (safely).

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done during quarantine?

Had The Win~dow in Venice for three meals in one day because I got sick of cooking.

Favorite IG accounts to follow for inspiration?

@beau_traps@dank.lloyd.wright@mesura.eu, and @somewhereiwouldliketolive.

Tyler Thomas was shot (safely, from a distance) at his office on July 28, 2020, by Isabella Behravan. You can see more of Venn Studio's work over here.

Nandita KhannaNandita Khanna LA-based content and brand ringmaster.

Likes: hand-written notes, iced lattes, and the Sunday NYT.
Dislikes: Bad manners, plastic straws.