Dominic Leong is an architect based in New York City, and founding partner of the architecture firm called Leong Leong with his brother Chris. Leong Leong is an award-winning architecture and design firm, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, that focuses on projects that envision new relationships between culture and commerce, public and private, and the domestic and monumental. The work includes a wide range of projects and scales including buildings, interiors, exhibitions, and furniture, with completed projects in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Venice, and Napa Valley. Notable projects include the design for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus, the Center for Community and Entrepreneurship in New York, and the design of U.S. Pavilion for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.

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Practicing architecture runs in the family. “Our father is an architect and we grew up building our own childhood home and eventually my bother, who is older, started studying architecture first and I pretty much just followed him as younger brothers do”. It lead Dominic first to working for other architectural firms, but eventually the brothers started their own practice 10 years ago. Leong Leong’s design approach is driven by a curiosity for new organisation typologies and aesthetic experiences that offer new ways of living, working, and interacting with one another. Frequently expanding the role of the architect, with an approach that spans between strategic thinking and material experimentation, from the city to the artefact. Finding new forms of collectivity and trying to understand what role architecture has in contemporary life.

“I think one of the things that we are really interested in is trying to integrate, some sort of social awareness, a social agenda with a kind of aesthetic language and I think historically there have been moments when the two parts of architecture have been aligned and moments they haven’t. And I think currently it’s interesting to think about how to reintegrate these aspects having that kind of social project, but also having a very strong aesthetic project and how they’re actually interrelated in a way that the social and the aesthetic are very much one and the same. So each project we work on, in certain ways deals with the merging of dichotomies.

Leong Leong’s office is located on the Bowery, Lower East Side, just a few blocks South of the New Museum and North of Chinatown. “This has been a great creative incubator space to be part of historically. There are all of these kind of amazing individual artists who are located on the Bowery. And that is obviously evolved as the city changes, but we’ve been in this neighbourhood for almost ten years and I feel like I have a nice affinity with the other creatives in this area. But also in the context of Chinatown and Little Italy, I think it’s just a very interesting part of Manhattan to be in, even though it is changing rapidly.”

“The interesting thing about practicing in New York city is that is an Island. It has a certain fine dimension to it. Which creates a congestion and density of people. No matter what, there is always going to be a certain intensity that is part of the city’s DNA. That will never change. 04:00 I think, what does change are the individuals and different communities that grow, expand, migrate or leave. There is just a constant flux of energy thats interesting to be in the mix with.” That will never change. I think, what does change is that, you know the individuals. The kind of communities, sort of equal and expander, migrator lead.

Needless to say, rapid change is seen more often in larger cities and that is exactly what makes them so interesting. “There is a certain unknown quality about them. I’ve grown up in a small town, so I’ve always been fascinated by indeterminacy of cities and being able to live in a place that from one way to another you don’t really what is going to happen when you walk out of the door.

“I’ve been fortuned to live around the world: Shanghai, New York, Paris and I’ve spend a lot of time in Los Angeles. They’ve all been very informative experiences for me. Also in terms of understanding how architecture needs to relate to different cultures, different contacts and that each city is unique. Even though we do have a certain expectation that there is a global cosmopolitan culture that connects all these different kind of cities.”

“What I think is interesting about architecture also relates to the flow of contemporary culture. Is that it innately it is very slow process to build a building, to think about a building and in a way that slowness is something actually interesting, that it kind of resist the trends and constant acceleration with its permanentness.” So that is what I think is compelling about architecture. And at the same time, it is like, also a question how to keep up.”

“Timelessness but also timely. I think is divining feature of how one practice architecture.”

“We recently did a project, that was thinking about the evolution of domestic space and the objects with in domestic spaces, and how they might evolve to become objects of self-care, awareness, to create a kind of central space. We thought about interiors of our lives spaces that slow down time, so we thought about how we could rethink a conventional bath to actually become a flow tank. And how that flow tank would be able to meditational practice. That would create a different sense of time or even take one self out of time though this kind of meditation experience.”

The “Float tank 01” was part of the exposition; Architecture Effects at the Guggenheim museum in Bilboa. An exhibition of architecture, art, and storytelling in the reappraisal of a timeless question: What makes architecture more than just building? - It effects.

“The show itself, was a group show which pared contemporary art with contemporary architecture practices, examining these different objects, that somehow, exemplified new aesthetic experiences or artistic practices that have involved out of contemporary culture.”

“We are quite often looking to art and artists as a way to interpret the world that we’re experiencing. And so we draw a lot of inspiration from contemporary art, both in terms of new aesthetic experiences as well as in trying to drive meaning from the things we are encountering every day.”

When it comes to personal style, Dominic is all about elevating the basics. “I’m interested in a uniform, which I haven’t achieved yet. Over time, to me it is more interesting to reduce the amount of variables. So you can focus on the things that are most important. My style reflects that essential kind of attitude. My personal style revolves about this idea of timeless pieces, that also have a contemporary twist.”

And when speaking about future plans for Leong Leong, “one of the goals of our practice is to develop new typologies, that respond to how we interact and socialise together as it relates to living environments and working environments. Deviating new ways of living, working and interaction with one another and understanding how the social dimension of our lives is constantly in flux and involving.