WY-TO was established in Singapore in 2010 by Yann Follain; WY-TO Paris was opened in 2011 with co-founder Pauline Gaudry. The pair met while studying architecture in France, but their participation in a workshop in Hong Kong about the metropolises of Asia Pacific deepened their working relationship and established WY-TO’s fundamental pillars of analysis, research and contextual architecture.
WY-TO is a multidisciplinary architectural design practice specialising in architecture, interior design, exhibition design and cultural curation, including outreach programs. The team includes architectural designers, interior designers, exhibition designers and graphic designers of 15 nationalities. The common denominator is the strong determination for active participation in meaningful projects and a design methodology that stands out from the corporate industry.
Development in Southeast Asia spurred the rapid growth of the practice, providing a dynamic environment to explore different areas of architecture. Museum and exhibition design was a flourishing field and WY-TO quickly established itself as a specialist. But the founders’ concerns about the climate crisis, social equity and quality of life has lead WY-TO to become increasingly preoccupied with its surroundings.
At the core of WY-TO’s philosophy is the fundamental belief that design must serve a cause. WY-TO’s driving methodology has a strong focus on context and content, embracing new measures for human and environmental wellbeing. The emphasis on designing for people is demonstrated in WY-TO’s self-initiated humanitarian and community-engagement projects (including its own yearly seminar event WY-TO Connects). In 2018, Yann successfully directed the Singapore Institute of Architects’ annual Archifest festival to the theme of ‘Design For Life’.
Having international teams working on a variety of schedules throughout the day can allow almost 24-hour service, which has been successfully explored and implemented for some of WY-TO’s fast-track projects such as competitions and tenders. But even as the studio and the scale of projects grow, WY-TO continues to work on smaller interior design projects – an opportunity to collaborate hand-in-hand with contractors.
Photography: WY-TO, Frank Pinckers, Studio Periphery.