Los Angeles based studio MILLIØNS' 'expansive' view of architecture

MILLIØNS is a multi-hyphenated practice from California, inspiring with their expansive view of architecture

MILLIØNS colourful pavilion
(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

Zeina Koreitem and John May are the founders of MILLIØNS, a small, L.A.-based studio with an outsized vision for architecture. They describe their practice: ‘We find it impossible to imagine architecture apart from a kind of expansive, ongoing project of observation and investigation—cultural, historical, technical, political—as a way of continually understanding the world around us.’

MILLIØNS founders portrait

(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

MILLIØNS: a multi-hyphenated practice making waves

For them, it is part of a holistic life (both private and public), with the potential to have, in their words, ‘stimulating effects on people and publics to be better versions of themselves, and to live differently.’ In short, design is a kind of impetus to live up to something bigger. What that is, exactly, keeps evolving.  

MILLIØNS pavilion

(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

Koreitem and May first started working together in 2012 and formalised that collaboration into a business three years later. For them, design stretches across a wide range of activities: they write, create furniture, curate exhibitions, in addition to practising architecture and, of course, teaching. Koreitem is design faculty at SCI-Arc and May is an associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. 

MILLIØNS installation design

(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

In 2022, they were commissioned to create a pavilion at the Center Pompidou Metz as part of a biennial (organised by philosopher Bruno Latour and curators Martin Guinard and Eva Lin) on the impact of climate change on contemporary culture. Like many offices of their generation, juggling each of these projects is an all-consuming enterprise where the borders between different disciplines, design and research, work and life are purposefully blurry.

MILLIØNS installation

(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

“Our practice is completely multi-hyphenated,” they explain. Best embodied by the late Virgil Abloh, the term is the theme of a recent issue of Harvard Design Magazine that Koreitem and May guest edited with fellow architect/educator Sean Canty. The publication theorises all the curious ways that a transdisciplinary approach reflects a zeitgeist brimming with creative possibilities. 

MILLIØNS display design

(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

Some of those possibilities come together in MILLIØNS’ design for the Rosenfield Collection café at Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. In 2019, the studio won the invited competition for a restaurant housed in the west wing of I.M Pei’s iconic building. Their chromatic design, currently in development, incorporates the typical need for tables and seating as well as featuring ceramics donated by collector Louise Rosenfield, who stipulated that her pieces remain in use. 

MILLIØNS exhibit

(Image credit: MILLIØNS)

An unusually risky requirement that could lead to pieces being damaged or broken. ‘She believes that ceramics, unlike other forms of artistic expression, can only be understood through their use in everyday life,’ note Koreitem and May approvingly. Architecture and design, so lofty in ambition, are ultimately part of a fragile cycle of obsolescence.