Eugene Tsui is an architect, clothing designer and warrior for the environment. He envisions and creates buildings based on designs in nature and has created homes that are termite proof, earthquake proof and have natural light, natural cooling and built-in support elements. He avoids the box shape which he explains in the film is a poor design shape. The sides of a square push in when tension occurs.One of Tsui’s homes is shaped like a tardigrade, the most durable known organism. His design was met with a collision of complaints, concerns and uproar. Neighbors claimed that the creation of the house would cause property values to go down, tourists to clog the street and prostitutes and drug dealers to invade the neighborhood. Eventually the plans were approved, the home built and none of the aforementioned possible tragic outcomes have occurred.
The film, Telos: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui, provides an in-depth profile of the artist. We are told that he was expelled from two universities for non-compliance. Presented with the truth that while he has dozens of completed designs, he has very few completed works, the film goer realizes that one of the most original living architects may never receive the accolades and profits that he deserves from his lifetime of work. (I never could figure out why books on the architect and his website list his name as having one S and the film lists his name as having two S’s).
Director Kyung Lee has managed to encompass a broad presentation of Tsui’s family, inspirations, history, goals and the way that others look at him in a swift 58 minutes. The name of the film, Telos, comes from one of Tsui’s many proposed projects. He dreams of creating a design, research, education facility on the base of Mount Shasta.
- Eugene Tsui was present at the screening of the film at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and answered viewer questions. During that session we learned that.
- Tsui believes in the connection of physical health in connection with brain advancement. All three of his children were required to know how to play at least one instrument, speak one additional language and participate in one sport.
- The reason that he has never given up after decades of fighting to make his work is that he firmly believes that if he waits long enough, he will see his work come to fruition.
- He is creating a new office/headquarter that will use no electricity and a sawdust toilet.
- Tsui never goes without a full night sleep. He is a big proponent of going to sleep when the sun goes down and rising with the sun.
- Tsui loves to design clothing. He hates that clothing is about fashion and image. He uses his knowledge of the body, what parts of the body are hot and how it moves.
- Music that inspires Tsui ranges drastically, from Petula Clark to Tchaikovsky to flamenco guitar.
- Tsui is not a fan of Calatrava. Although their designs may look similar with with guide wires and sweeping lines, Tsui doesn’t include any design elements that aren’t useful. Calatrava’s bridges have the guide wires specifically for decoration and this, to Tsui is a lie.
Check out the Houston Cinema Arts Festival schedule for dozens of incredible art-centric films throughout the week. Some are FREE, most are $10-12. Tickets can be purchased at the venues.