Wave of the Future: Crystal Wynn and Milo Garcia

June 9, 2018
Crystal Wynn and Milo Garcia

Photos: Recent Projects

Crystal Wynn did a brief stint in a corporate environment when she started to gravitate toward her entrepreneurial friends who were “self-employed and had hired me to collaborate creatively,” she says. Enter Milo Garcia, an artist working in London and Paris who “never had the patience or understanding of how to work for someone,” he explains. The two met in Los Angeles while both working on residential design projects, became fast friends, and launched the multidisciplinary Studio MAI in 2003, cultivating a relationship that has endured for the past 16 years.

At first, “we did a lot of thinking out of the box for other designers,” notes Wynn, “helping them make something they could not figure out how to make on their own, which led to what I would call our hyper-realization of wanting to focus fully on our own design, that which we could control exclusively and would be rooted by a strong, intelligent, original concept.” They eschewed residential work in favor of “less corporate, more entrepreneurial” projects, Garcia says, including their first hospitality space, LA’s Gjelina restaurant, deciding “very quickly that working with chefs was something we loved doing and wanted to do more of,” he says. Adds Wynn: “The ability to affect the masses, even if in a small way, seemed more important than designing for the few.”

Their expansive portfolio now includes Hinoki & the Bird in LA, Austin’s South Congress Hotel, the Young Joni restaurant in Minneapolis, and, most recently, the MADE Hotel in New York’s buzzing NoMad neighborhood, all of which evoke their signature “boho-meets-casual professional” style, Wynn says. Along with a new furniture line, the pair is looking for a project that “pushes us toward unattainable perfection,” Wynn says. “Every single project is challenging,” adds Garcia, and “presents a new [opportunity] to push ourselves further and not settle.”

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