Andrew Sun likes to keep a side hustle. The interior designer has maintained his own practice since 2013, while also taking on other work. The first project that put him on the map, back in 2013, was a booth for IDC where Sun designed a playful assemblage of paper windmills, which spun according to visitor’s movements. Since then, Sun has gone on to design a variety of residential and commercial spaces — winning an Arido award and a nomination as one of the Top Emerging Design Firms in Azure Magazine. According to Sun, “modern architecture is all about experience and flow.” He keeps this mantra in mind when designing — his projects focus on the feeling of being in a space. Read on to learn more about Atelier Sun.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did your practice get started?
I graduated in 2008 from OCAD in the Environmental Design program, and went on to work for numerous architecture firms. With a few successful residential project on my own, I decided to start the practice in 2019, right before the pandemic. At Atelier Sun, we’re a small team of three full-time architects, with three others working with us part time. Our primary focus is interior architecture and interior design, in both commercial and residential spaces.
What is your firm’s main focus — what do clients come to you for?
Our specialty lies in two categories. First, we really think of ourselves as interior architects. Our focus is on the spatial sequence and the relationship between the user and the space, narrowing in on 2-D elements like finishes and material.
And secondly, we are always trying to work out the budget with the client. We always try to look for common ground and meet them halfway. When we’re doing a full-service project, after receiving quotes from our contractors, we revise our design to make sure it fits into the budget — and also fits into the expectations of the client. What sets us apart is this design revision during the process.
If you had to describe your style in a few sentences, what would you say?
I think we are often perceived as having Scandinavian or Japanese influences, but we are focused on the experience above all. I would say our style is minimalist, with a hint of playfulness. We always try to create a special effect — a wow factor — while still working within a tight budget.
Tell us about some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on.
An example that comes to mind is the Torrens house — when we started designing, I was shocked at how small it was: only 1600 square- feet above grade. However, we were able to integrate a lot of functional storage and make the space beautiful. The couple who bought the house post-reno actually sent me an appreciation email afterwards!
We did a lot of tailoring for the original family’s special requirements, but if the design is focused, it should still provide a connection to the rest of the audience. I think it was architect Louis Kahn who once said: “When the second owner has the same appreciation of the design as the first owner, you know you did a good job.”
What’s in the works for you right now?
The residential field has kept us busy during the pandemic, but commercial commissions are gradually coming back. We suddenly have four different eye clinic projects. We’ve kind of become healthcare experts!
Other than that, we’re working on several residential projects ranging in size from 1000 to 6000 square feet. We’re also doing a small takeout restaurant, which is new to us. Overall, we’re looking to get back into hospitality, but we have about ten residential projects on the go, so we’re open to anything!