Designer Dialogue

An Architect of Light | A Pottery Master of Legend


We could have none other than Imu Chan, Principle Architect at FSOARK in Vancouver to design a unique experience for Luxury Home & Design Show guests. Chan’s designs utilize light and nature, and seek to promote a deep sense of purpose and meaning.

Taste of Life: Why do you describe architecture as “building a vessel”?

Imu Chan: Oftentimes people associate good architecture as monumental landmarks, magnificent mansions or splendorous interiors.

Although their physical manifestation sometimes achieve a kind of grandeur that is readily recognized, the intent behind creating good architecture is often more humble than that. The intent is rooted first in necessity: to serve a specific purpose, for some specific users, in some specific occasion. And if the architects managed – after countless trials and errors and maybe another dozen rolls of sketching papers – to put the right touch and find the right balance to things, they may earn the acknowledgement from their clients and their peers, who compliment what is created is more than just functional.

But that is merely the beginning for us, because in the bottom most of our hearts we want the users, by being in the space, using it, spending time with their families and friends in it, growing old in it, that they can see the world a little different from where they started off, and perhaps be in a better place physically, psychologically and emotionally. That is why we see our architecture as vessels. They are the vehicles for our aspirations, shelters for our healing, containers of our dreams. It is with this belief that we hope one finds a deeper meaning and a higher purpose in life, by spending time in the space we have created.

TOL: What do you mean by a “humanistic space”?

ICH: What we aspire to create in architecture is humanistic space – space that puts human values, well-being and dignity in the forefront of consideration. There are different paths to go about doing that, one of which is to bring tradition and culture into the design, adapting them to the tasks at hand.

The keyword there is adaptation, because tradition and culture – like beauty – could be elusive, subjective qualities that are constantly evolving.

We can never create authenticity by imitating the past, but can draw upon its qualities and values for guidance and inspiration. In other words, tradition and culture are the means, not the ends. They are the starting points from which we hope to find something enduring in what we have created.

TOL: Why is it important to have a relationship to light and nature, and how does it affect your designs?

ICH: Likewise, we regard light and nature fundamental in our work, not only because they are essential for our well-being, but also because they are attainable by all, rich and poor included. Designing with sumptuousness is not the core spirit of our practice. Much of our design process involves subtracting superficialities which, over time, only become burdens to our lives, and presenting to our clients what are essential for their well-being, which would include light and fresh air and everything that Nature has blessed us with.

I often tell my students and others who work with me, to chip away all things unneeded, so they may learn to see, beyond all things superficial and stifling, that there is a clear opening from which design begins.

TOL: What excites you most about working with pottery master Mr. Tian?

ICH: I am fascinated by pottery as an art form because, like architecture, it is utilitarian to begin with, created with humble materials and means.




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