- Why were you originally motivated to start your own practice?
VMM: We had both been doing work in exhibitions and publications—both formats where you collaborate with a number of people extensively for one issue or one temporary exhibit. We wanted to create a way of doing architectural work that operated more like this. We wanted an office that could evolve like a publication, moving from long-distance and loose connections that we associate with digital publication to the in-person day-to-day of a full-time office, as necessary.
MLD: There's also the desire to produce our own projects and channel our interests, choosing only the work that we are interested in doing. Having worked in design firms for others was not an option anymore because we wanted to focus on research as an architectural practice. Teaching, for us, is considered an active practice as well, a space not only to complement the work, but also, to actively engage with the pedagogical space.
- What hurdles have you come across?
MLD: Being located in two cities—Detroit and New York—both enhance and complicate our work dynamics. In collaborating there's always the hurdle of agreeing, negotiating, or working productively with difference. Not having a written down agenda doesn't mean we don't have a critical position about the work. We have not one, but two, and this open mode of collaboration has resulted in various forms of interpretations and challenges, all of which are good for clarifying our own agency and how we collaborate.
VMM: In a way, we have been so successful at evading the difficult aspects of a regular office—very little rent, no extensive administration—that it has enabled us to skip over some of the productive pressures of having an office. The downside of this is that we don't have a clear way of articulating what we do. Do we say yes to every project? No. We go after the projects that interest us and align with our agenda, but we haven't been forced to articulate what that is, even to each other. We are committed to democratic urbanism, immigration, the Black diaspora, public resources, and the critical dimension of design.