GIOI TRAN, A Designer’s Haven

Por: Edward Rueda

4, April, 2022 en Luxury Trending

A Designer’s Haven

Geraldine Zialcita

Furniture, fixtures, paint, tiles, wood, drapery, and cloth knitted together play a vital role in Gioi Tran’s life and purpose which is to create art in all mediums.

Gioi was born and raised in Vietnam. He spent his childhood watching American movies and TV shows which shaped his yearning to assimilate into a culture different from where he grew up in. “I wanted to be a cowboy and was very much influenced by the Western culture. My family and I migrated to America when I was nine years old then moved to Egypt after five years. After spending two years in Egypt, we resettled back in America. My experience in Egypt instilled the desire to travel and learn more about various cultures,” he shares.


Gioi earned a degree in Interior Design at the Academy of Arts, San Francisco. While in school, Gioi remained focused on being the best interior designer he could be and dreamed of having his own company and being acclaimed for his work by people worldwide. Yet, the path that led him to where he is now proved to be a long journey. “My first career and love were becoming a dancer and a fine artist. I quit High School in my junior year to pursue Dance and Fine Arts. I became a professional dancer in Los Angeles after one year of completing my studies, but after ten years in this field, I realized I needed to have a backup profession since a dancer’s career is quite short. I left Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco to rediscover myself. Initially, I toyed with the idea of a fashion or graphic design career, but after attending an open house for an interior design department, this awakened my senses and led me to become more well-rounded and appreciative of interior design,” he relays.

Gioi embraces the world of dance, art, and interior design in many avenues. As a modern dancer, Gioi acknowledges the value of rhythm and coordination. As an artist, his acrylic paintings exude bright colors with vivid details balancing the light and shadows of nature layered on each artwork. Gioi has been recognized by The San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner as ‘The Fine Art of Designers’ at ArtHaus. As an interior designer, Gioi uses his keen eye, imagination, and creativity to produce award-winning designs.

Daily moments, the people he spends time with, and the places he visits are what contribute to Gioi’s inspiration. “My inspiration is derived from what I see and experience in daily life. I am surrounded by a group of friends who are diverse in culture and very talented. Through my travels, I have experienced different cultures and seen magnificent architecture and design which have inspired me,” he imparts.


In 1999, together with business partner and husband, Vernon Applegate, they spearheaded Applegate Tran Interiors at the Mission District of San Francisco. The company specializes in residential projects with global clients from Vietnam, New York, Panama, California, Hawaii, and France. Their team has ample experience in the fine, culinary, visual, and performing arts. Their services include creating new construction projects to revamping interiors and being known for their luxury, sophisticated, and elegant designs, “At an early age, I was always aware of my surroundings and constantly moving the furniture and redecorating my bedroom. Whenever the adults were not around, I would attempt to rearrange things in the house. I wanted my family to buy me a sewing machine so I could make drapery and reupholster the furniture,” he informs.

Vernon grew up in Sri Lanka then moved to Honduras to be part of the Peace Corps. He migrated to America and completed his Architecture of Fine Arts degree at the University of Arts in Philadelphia. After graduating, Vernon worked for various firms in LA and San Francisco. Gioi and Vernon are not only praised for their brilliant designs, but their artistry and focus on architecture. Applegate Tran Interiors started with a clean and simple interior line which has evolved over the years into an eclectic blend of styles. “Interior design doesn’t just refer to style but is about bringing a unique solution to our interior that is layered with an interesting mix of colors and textures in textile and blending and mixing furniture design,” he states.

There are many stages involved in the concept of a design to execution of the project. Each project is unique and requires you to focus on the fine details, the theme, and the ambiance you wish to create. “The design process of a room begins with organically drawing lots of images found from fashion, architecture, and travel magazines. These images of inspiration are transformed into real materials that can be applied to our interiors. Since I love to draw, part of the development is simple hand sketches which I do daily. These sketches are transformed into technical drawings by our team. The selected materials/specification and drawings are the foundation of our design. After this step has been completed, we then source for the artisans, fabricators, and installers to execute these designs. We oversee and coordinate the design with the team,” he conveys.


To date, Applegate Tran Interiors has earned its recognition, respect, and prestige from prominent clients around the world. Broad knowledge, vital skills, and amazing experiences have helped Gioi and Vernon achieve successful endeavors. “I love the first phase of the project which is the creative process. This stage is organic and enables me to search for inspiration from materials and travel. This is the free and flowing stage where I don’t think about the technical procedure― it’s more about the artistic vision at this point. Over the years of being an interior designer, I’ve learned to be a better listener and communicator. We spend each day communicating with clients, vendors, and contractors and it’s important to be clear and concise. I have learned to deal with different personalities,” he says.

Being partners in love and business provides synergy for Gioi and Vernon. “It’s been a great journey and I would not change a thing. Our lives are so much fuller with the ability to relate in a deeper place because of our working and personal relationship. We appreciate and value what we have together despite the challenges that we have faced and have figured out how to balance both marriage and business. This starts with a clear understanding of our roles. Even though we are both designers, we work with our own clients and collaborate on occasions. Recognizing our strengths and weaknesses helps define our roles. We have mutual respect and the ability to distinguish when to be business partners and when we are life partners,” he discloses.

In 2007, Gioi established a furniture and lighting line manufacturing company that is now represented in San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. He is the co-owner of Poliform with a showroom in San Francisco. Running and maintaining their multiple businesses can be challenging which include acquiring and keeping good people. Gioi and Vernon have learned to overcome these obstacles through trial and error. Their unique personalities complement their business and marriage. “We may be total opposite in one way and totally the same in another way. I am a social butterfly who wants to be the center of attention and always likes to have people around. If I go to a party and may not know even one person at the event, I end up meeting half of the people in the room before I leave.” He winks. Vernon, on the other hand, is not shy but he is more reserved and methodical in his overall approach to life. I am a risk-taker and tend to juggle many things in life. We have learned so much from one another and know how to balance our differences. The best part is, we are on the same page with our long-term goals and vision of how we work and live,” he confides.


Aside from being an Interior Designer, Dancer, and Fine Artist, Gioi expresses his creativity in many forms. “Cooking is a big part of my creative outlet. Entertaining is another outlet since coordinating a party is a lot of fun. There are a lot of details when you throw a party. Dancing takes a lot of discipline, focus, and attention to detail. That applies to painting, cooking, and designing―it’s all related,” he summarizes.

When he’s not working, Gioi spends time horseback riding, cooking, traveling, hosting, reading, and playing tennis. With more than two decades of being in the industry which has garnered them awards, distinction, and influence, Gioi plans to continue designing and trotting the globe to search for inspiration. He advises people to live their dream. “Get as much experience in life and take risks. One thing that my partner loves about me is my tenacity. You can’t succeed in life if you don’t recognize the opportunities and take advantage of them. I am not afraid of anything,” he concludes.

Gioi and Vernon integrated their strong passion, artistic pursuit. and entrepreneurial spirit to create the foundation— the award-winning interior design company that constructs, designs, and decorates residential and commercial homes so you can love where you live, value where you work, and cherish what you’ve always dreamed of. Applegate Tran Interiors is a designer’s haven and Gioi Tran and Vernon Applegate’s driving force, dexterity, and ingenuity are divine.

Photo Credits:

GIOI TRAN @thegioitran

Creative Director: HEIDE BETZ @heidebetz
Writer: GERALDINE ZIALCITA @geraldineauthor
Featured Jewelry Designer: BARBARA LEE SYCIP @bybarbaralee
Editorial Assistants: DANNY VILLA @danny.villan and CHERI ANN GLAB @cheriannnn
Photographer’s Assistant: BESSIE ANN GOTINGCO @besscr8tiv
Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo
Executive Producer: VERNON APPLEGATE @vernon_applegate
Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti

Published by @plpg.globalmedia 2022© PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA S.A.S