In 2004, Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu moved from New York City to Los Angeles with a clear vision in mind: “The promise of an amazing place to become an architect,” Oyler says. But they still faced the central conundrum of bootstrapping a new firm: It’s hard to get work without exposure, and it’s hard to get exposure without work. Then they solved that riddle. “Instead of just waiting for clients to come to us,” Wu says, “we decided to invent our own projects and get them published.”
First was a redo of the couple’s apartment/office—which they completed for the cost of a month’s rent—and a patio project for Wu’s father. “Both of those projects got published,” Wu says, “and we started to think that we were onto something.” Next came a series of installation pieces at local galleries and at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, where both partners teach. Intricate assemblies of aluminum tubing that reflect the partners’ interest in complex line work, the installations helped generate commissions for a residential tower in Taipei, a proposed villa in Inner Mongolia, and a house in Catalonia, Spain.
“We find ourselves located in more exotic places,” Wu says, “but these details translate all around the world.” Popularity outside of Los Angeles wasn’t part of the original plan, she says, “but it’s been an amazing process so far.”