At Home with DM
At Home with Kulapat Yantrasast
This citizen-of the-world and 2020 AD100 architect shows us around his house in Venice Beach
For Kulapat Yantrasast, the word home could refer to several of the world's most energetic and spirited cities. Born in Bangkok, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Architecture from the University of Tokyo before moving to Osaka to work with Japanese master Tadao Ando for eight years. Around 2003, he relocated to Los Angeles and launched wHY, an architecture and design studio known for creating memorable art spaces and experiences, with examples sited in urban areas across the US and beyond. Today wHY maintains offices in Culver City, Manhattan, and, soon, Paris.
It should come as no surprise then that Kulapat's perspective on his work is highly cosmopolitan and assimilates disparate influences. His house in Venice Beach, which he designed and built in 2012, is a paragon of this citizen-of-the-world idiom. A sanctuary that both retreats from and celebrates the vibrant neighborhood that surrounds it—with interiors that are at once brutalist and intimate, eclectic yet highly considered—this three-story, concrete and glass residence is an inspiring exercise in harmonized contradictions.
"It's like a small village in a big city," Kulapat says when asked why he chose to build a home in Venice Beach. "It's small, but there is a lot of culture; a lot of subcultures. Fine art and street art, skateboarders and surfers, an amazing food scene—all on the beach and in the fresh air." Outfitted with a pool and garden, the house offers views onto all that is abuzz outside, while also feeling like a unique world completely unto itself. “I wanted a space that was not only tranquil—a place to find my own silence—but also playful,” Kulapat explains. “I wanted it to be accommodating while also triggering curiosity. I draw from the chaos of Thai culture as well as the order of Japanese culture. I need the yin and the yang.”
Largely open plan, the interior of the house is appointed with Kulapat’s enviable art and design collection, set alongside functionalist design classics and utilitarian flea market finds. Every eyeful strikes a balance between seduction and calm—never too cluttered, never too austere. The main living space, for instance—which combines cooking, dining, entertaining, and relaxing activities—features a hanging sculpture by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, a 1930s daybed by French modernist Jean Prouvé, a ceiling light by New York designer Lindsey Adelman, a stool by California creative duo the Haas Brothers, a set of Eames Molded Plastic Chairs from Vitra, a couch of Kulapat’s own design, and a heavily patinated vintage mechanics cart. One multi-story wall is punctuated with windowed portholes that also serve as niches to display smaller artworks. Reflections of light from the pool soothingly undulate across the endlessly interesting surfaces.
With no shortage of details to talk about, Kulapat shares some of his favorite vignettes inside his Venice Beach House.
Objects By Artists
“I love objects by artists! They give you something; they change you. It was love at first sight when I encountered this piece by Gabriel Orozco in Miami a few years ago. It’s entirely handmade in Paris—all the leaves of the bamboo branch are replaced by feathers. It feels like my pet. And then this stool: I just love the message of the Haas Brothers; they work across artforms and always have something interesting to say. This pillow by artist Fiona Connor I got when the house was first done. It looks like a bag of cement waiting to be mixed.”
Everything In Its Place
“I use my home to experiment with object design, as a laboratory for prototypes. I use my own dilemma of living to think through how to solve problems. With this shelf, I was inspired by the work of Louise Nevelson, but I was also thinking about how I like to see things but I also don’t like clutter. Everything needs its own place.”
Process & Discovery
“For me, design is material taking form through process. I love processes and systems of thinking and seeing how they inform the end product. So I really appreciate Lindsey Adelman’s You Make It Chandelier—it’s just a list of parts and a set of instructions for a light that you make yourself according to your needs. I picked up everything for this one at the hardware store. The cart came from a flea market. I frequent the Long Beach flea market because I love the sense of discovery—both vintage pieces and the work of contemporary makers.”
More Views of Kulapat’s Venice Beach House