Q&A with Thien of Domison

"We make happy furniture. There's too much serious furniture in the world," says Thien, cofounder and codesigner of Periphere and Domison, two of Canada's preeminent modern furniture companies. Thien and his sister My launched Periphere in 2001 and followed up the high-concept company with a "ready-to-wear" sister line, Domison, in 2008. "Periphere and Domison are like Prada and Miu Miu," he says. Domison's latest collection, Pâté Chinois, notes a departure from the designing duo's monochromatic and single-material aesthetics and construction. "It's mix mix mix," Thien says. We sat down with Thien at the Domison showroom in Montreal during the Montreal International Interior Design Show week to find out why the new collection is named after Shepherd's Pie.

Thien designer for Domison and Periphere

What were you doing before you and My launched Periphere and Domison?
I was working in Internet marketing. I started making furniture as something I liked. This has always been part of me and something I wanted to do so I said, "Okay, let's launch a furniture store."
Just like that? Let's launch a furniture store?
You just have to try things and do the best you can to get yourself in there.
How did you find your way in?
We first launched Periphere in 2001. It's more conceptual work. Two years ago we launched Domison. It's our ready-to-wear line. Periphere and Domison are like Prada and Miu Miu.
Tell me about your new collection?
With Periphere, we did minimalist designs that were mono-material. Materials are always our inspiration and we worked in fiberglass, wood, steel. This year we decided to mix everything together. The Babel shelving system is mix mix mix. The Montage couch is steel, fabric, and felt.

The Babel couch by My and Thien for Domison reacts to people's constant urge to change their furniture, Thien says. The modular sofa features steel back rests that can be moved to anywhere along the couch's perimeter and colored with any number of felt co
The Babel couch by My and Thien for Domison reacts to people's constant urge to change their furniture, Thien says. The modular sofa features steel back rests that can be moved to anywhere along the couch's perimeter and colored with any number of felt coverings.

Why is it called Pâté Chinois? What does that mean?
It literally translates to "Chinese pâté," but it means Shepherd's Pie in Quebec. Like the layers of meat, cheese, and potatoes in the dish, this collection is about the layers of materials. It's all about randomness and personality. It's colorful; it's happy furniture.
The Montage modular shelving system by My and Thien for Domison is all about "randomness and personalities."
The Montage modular shelving system by My and Thien for Domison is all about "randomness and personalities."

What's next for you and My?
We're going to continue in the direction of mobility and flexibility in our work. People are changing their furniture so quickly, we want them to be able to change it without feeling guilding about it. We want to create something that moves with time and evolves. It doesn't have to be stiff for the next 40 years.
The Tarantula chair by My and Thien for Domino is also a work in flexibility. Behind the chair: the list of materials (not to mention shapes) the piece can be constructed in.
The Tarantula chair by My and Thien for Domino is also a work in flexibility. Behind the chair: the list of materials (not to mention shapes) the piece can be constructed in.

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