With a background in architecture and digital technologies, Neue Guild member Robert Yuen has spent the last several years developing tools for peers in his profession. In 2016, he and two other co-founders launched Monograph.io, a new service that helps architects develop their own websites. After feeling that available options were missing the mark, Robert and his team created a platform that offers clean and minimal templates along with the ability to easily customize colors and other aspects that are particular to a firm’s identity. As their website says, “Monograph is a technology company founded by architects with the mission to help every architect build a beautiful website– simply, without any code.” Read below where Robert answers our Feature Firm Q&A.
The Neue Guild [NG] What is your area of design expertise?
Robert Yuen [RY] We help Architects build better websites.
NG How did your firm begin?
RY Monograph.io launched in 2016. Alex, Moe, and I are previously trained as architects from MIT and University of Michigan and are now committed to advancing the industry by helping architects communicate and deliver their body of work better. Beginning with websites, our goal is to elevate and transform the practice of architecture through better communicating the value architects bring to clients, the public, and our built environment.
We were each developing and building websites for architects on our own prior to creating Monograph. Collectively, we learned that for such a highly visual based profession, a tool that was specifically designed for Architects just didn’t exist. Thus, Monograph.io was born, bridging the gap between a firm’s physical and digital architectural portfolio.
NG Do you have a favorite part or phase of the design process?
RY Myself in particular, I love the beginning and the very end of a design project. The beginning of a design project presents a moment where limitation and constraints are temporary put on hold to foster limitless possibilities. Then towards the end of a project, the “a ha” moment starts to arise where everything comes together and all the hard work starts to bear fruit.
NG What’s an area of design with which you’re unfamiliar but would like to be more familiar?
RY I would love to do more research and experimentation in the automation of construction processes. This is research I’ve started during my M.Arch thesis and post graduate MSc. degree at the University of Michigan, Taubman College. I can see a near future where Architecture has to engage the work with rapid prototyping and automation of construction assemblies. Also, redefining new roles and responsibilities of the Architect to develop new pedagogy and paradigms that will inform how our built environment shapes our future generations.
Some of the website templates offered. Credit: Monograph.io
NG What inspires your work?
RY Bridging the technology gap within the AEC community by building software and hardware applications similar to Monograph.io will continue to inspire my work. There is a lot of work to be done to elevate the building industry that extends from how we design, manage, and build our future cities. At Monograph.io we are working hard on first providing a platform and concierges service for architects to better manage and present their body of work.
NG What has been your biggest design challenge to date?
RY The process of building a company is by far my greatest design challenge. Designing a hybrid business model between a digital product and a concierges service have been really exciting and challenging. Focusing not only the building Monograph.io the software platform but also formalizing systems and processes to efficiently manage a growing and evolving company.