Designer Brian Lin always had an affinity for home design—he loved scouting out vintage and antique shops—but the first 10 years of his career were decidedly fashion-focused. Lin moved from his hometown of Houston, Texas, to study product design at New York’s Parsons School of Design in 2005. He started working in product development for bags and, in 2013, a new gig as an accessories designer at Aritzia brought him to Vancouver, where he expanded to neckwear, headwear and belts. “It was a great learning experience, but I could never kick the itch I had for home spaces,” says Lin. And home was about to become a lot more important—for all of us.

Industrial Designer Brian LinCarlo Ricci

It was the COVID-19 pandemic that triggered Lin’s transition from accessorizing runways to accessorizing rooms. His evening and weekend project—the beginnings of his own brand—suddenly felt more crucial. He left his 9 to 5 and turned all of his attention to the feeling of home.

Brian Lin Industrial Design

Populus Project launched in December 2020, with an artful incense burner that joins form, function and feeling. “I love the ambiance incense creates,” explains Lin. “It’s a meditative experience, and it really sets the tone of the space.” He chose to make the Stack incense burner out of solid brass for the patina it takes on over time.

Brian Lin Industrial Design

The object hides the burning incense, letting the smoke rise from a perforated top, and holds additional sticks in a bottom compartment. “I am really drawn to brutalist and geometric forms that allow materiality to show through,” says Lin. “Everything is concealed in this one object, but even when you’re not using it, it still makes a bold statement.”

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