In this exclusive interview, California-based architects Woods + Dangaran share their perspectives on built environments and how they should call upon the landscapes they inhabit.
Based in Los Angeles, California, Woods + Dangaran founders Brett Woods and Joseph Dangaran made their debut in est magazine with a breathtaking Palm Springs home designed as a commitment to the desert modernist movement. This project strongly alludes to Brett and Joseph’s reverence for the landscapes in which they design and live and how they impact our senses. “Each of our projects seeks to source and capture moments of their surroundings, thereby letting the user feel like they are a part of them,” Brett says. They argue that this exchange between built and natural environments is an ongoing phenomenon and forms the backbone of their thriving practice.
How did you meet, and how did Woods + Dangaran come into being?
Joseph Dangaran: We first met in 2001 during our freshman year at the University of Southern California School of Architecture. The idea to start our own firm came about in 2010, around the time of the Great Recession, while catching up over a few beers and a barbecue. Brett had just moved back to LA after being at Duke with his fiance.
Congratulations on the launch of your first monograph! Could you please share another defining moment since establishing Woods + Dangaran?
Joseph Dangaran: Each time we move to a new studio space, we are reminded of our accomplishments and take a moment to reflect on them. We started in Brett’s guest bedroom, moved to his garage, rented our first studio space of 1000 square feet, and finally purchased our current studio space of 4000 square feet; that was a pretty big moment.
Brett Woods: You should engage in a dialogue with your built environment. Architecture should frame the landscape and views and importantly make you consider your relationship to these things, whether they are plantings, vistas or urban cityscapes.
Joseph Dangaran: A building’s structure should not be concealed from the user; it should be expressed from the joinery of the cabinets and furniture to the metal fastening systems used for louvres and screens. These structures are made by hand, and that handwork should be celebrated. You need to recognise the collective of people who have constructed these projects.
When people step into a space designed by Woods + Dangaran, what’s the first thing you want them to notice?
Brett Woods: It’s less that we want them to notice something, but more that we want them to feel calm and comfortable. We want the architecture to be a background to the user’s life and be filled with art, furniture and textiles.
Projects like Desert Palisades and Clear Oak, both featured on est, reveal your affinity with the outdoors. How do the landscapes you design in inspire you and challenge you?
Brett Woods: In every way! Each of our projects seeks to source and capture moments of their surroundings, thereby letting the user feel like they are a part of them too. This continuous exchange between the built and the natural is the driving force behind everything that we do.
“These structures are made by hand, and that hand work should be celebrated. You need to be able to recognise the collective of people who have constructed these projects.”
– Joseph Dangaran
Twentieth by Woods + Dangaran
Twentieth by Woods + Dangaran
What are your ‘non-negotiables’ when it comes to designing mid-century-modern-inspired homes?
Joseph Dangaran: Honesty is non-negotiable. We don’t want to fake anything. We want to use natural materials and express their inherent attributes and characteristics. You will find some form of stone or wood in all of our projects.
What can we anticipate from Woods + Dangaran for 2023?
Brett Woods: We are now working in nine states across the country. We hope to complete many of these projects in 2023 which will showcase a variety of amazing sites and contexts.
“Architecture should frame the landscape and views and importantly make you consider your relationship to these things…”