Celebrating Women in Design – Part Two

People are at the heart of all great design and architecture. They inspire our designs, give purpose to building functionality, and breathe life into the spaces and places we create.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating women who have made waves in architecture and design.
Emily Morrison

Emily Morrison - Interior Designer, Hassell

What qualities do you admire in other people?
Those who let down the ladder to help those below reach to higher places. I believe that this is a quality of a true leader, one that uplifts, shares knowledge, and supports those around them.

Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
Go into every situation with an open mind, confidence and be ready to learn. You get so much more value in interactions + situations if you’re willing to listen + learn.

Ash Holmes - Artist

Where do you find ideas and inspiration?
I draw the most inspiration from nature. The changing landscape across the countries I have been fortunate enough to travel to have significantly impacted my work and the way I paint. I find ideas from colour combination and composition in the natural landscape. Creating a sensory effect within my pieces is something I strive for.

What qualities do you admire in other people?
Gratitude and authenticity. Above everything I try to personally practise these two qualities and admire those who have a grateful outlook and authentic approach to life.

Ash Holmes
Sasha White

Sasha White – Mr and Mrs White

What qualities do you admire in other people?
I admire people who are kind and unassumingly wise; people who follow their intuition and value things of quality.

Where do you find ideas and inspiration?
I am inspired by spaces, textures, sunlight and architectural details. I find inspiration in the quiet and in the slow, where design can breathe, play and formulate in my mind and on paper.

Name one experience, which shaped your career.
I had some major health issues which came to light a few years ago. Life as I knew it came to a stop as I focussed on getting healthy again. This time became a season of slow as I gained perspective and came back to the heart of work. The experience gave me creative clarity and shaped the direction of our business and life.

Chloe Naughton – Architect, BVN

Name one experience, which shaped your career.
Learning how to put a building together by builders and craftsmen on a construction site in North Queensland for ten months as a graduate architect.

What is one societal/industry “norm” you choose to challenge, or you think should be challenged?
Great design should be accessible to everyone.

Chloe Naughton

Arifa Hynard – Senior Project Consultant, Living Edge

Where do you find ideas and inspiration?
I love being in nature and close to the ocean, but what really inspires me is the amazing people I meet through my work. The passion, creativity and beauty created by such talented teams of designers is endless inspiration – being lucky enough to be a small part of that is my driving force!

What qualities do you admire in other people?
Strength through vulnerability and the courage to choose kindness even in tough situations.

Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – as a textbook overachiever, it helps to remind myself that being is more important than doing!

Are there any designers or persons of significance who you admire or inspire you personally?
I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook – her work on women’s rights is world-changing! A quote that resonates from her is “Please ask yourself – what would you do if you weren’t afraid? And then go do it.” She talks about how women often have undersold themselves even before we get to the interview or big pitch, and how important it is to break the societal narrative we’ve been unconsciously brought up with.

What is one societal/industry “norm” you choose to challenge, or you think should be challenged?
This is a slippery slope – there are so many social causes I’m passionate about! However, I believe that ignorance, fear and low-self-worth are the root of many if not most of the issues and challenges we face as a human race. Seeing a world where we can all just “be” – strong enough in self to be the best version of you, without having to prove anything to anyone. How beautiful would that look! Don’t all forms of social change come much more easily to those that aren’t motivated by “success”, money and status?

Simone Oliver - Principle, Architectus

Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
Empathy, kindness, and the belief that everyone is worthy of love and respect – probably come before anything else. My mother made friends with everybody she met – the supermarket, the local butcher, the homeless guy living in the bus shelter. Additionally, she had a weekly habit of bringing newfound friends’ home to the dinner table, so there never seemed a division between us and the rest of the world. Nurturing and maintaining real friends through life is super important, and I care deeply about preserving the clarity and authenticity of friendships by bypassing social media. I'm relatively reactive to pretentious stereotypes in the design or architectural world – we are, after all, in service to our communities.

What are three words that describe you and why?
Resilient – Maybe resilience comes after 30 years working in the dynamic, challenging, and pressurised design and construction industry. Or perhaps it comes back to acknowledging that people are imperfect, and if you can't accept imperfection, you probably will struggle to navigate complex scenarios that involve human beings. Or maybe it's the old fact that when you are working at a high-performance level and managing a family, you learn not to sweat the small stuff! I'm fortunate to have a knack to bounce from setbacks, not dwell on the past and move forward quickly.
Optimistic – I'm always confident about the future, and I am in the perfect place at Architectus to fuel that excitement. I wake up every day with a great sense of purpose that my work makes a difference in the lives of others. When you are positively impacting people in so many facets of society, from city shaping to the way we learn and grow, through to the dynamic and disrupted landscape of work, you realise the essential role designers have in changing the way people live, think, and act.
Courageous – I've never been afraid of public speaking; asserting myself, making hard decisions; being alone; changing jobs; interviews; going back to learn, starting over, ageing; ill-health; losing a loved one; becoming a parent; moving house, failure, or believing in myself. I've also never been afraid to have challenging conversations, call injustices out, or deal with biases in my workplace. Getting older has come with a delightful sense of caring less about failure, being comfortable in my skin, and seeking adventures while life is good.

Simone Oliver
Harriet Drummond

Harriet Drummond – Architect

What is one societal/industry “norm” you choose to challenge, or you think should be challenged?
I believe if we are committed to reducing our impact on climate change, it is essential to break the practice of the constant procurement cycle. To do this we need both a change in societal habits as well as an appropriate industry response. As consumers we need to be asking more from our products, considering not only the individual item but recognising the products entire lifecycle, including social and environmental cost. By preferencing sustainable practices, high quality and lasting design, and encouraging discerning consumption, we can reward transparent and ethical procurement methods within the industry. Reducing our carbon consumption and contributing to accountable ‘world positive’ impact.

Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
Well known West Australian ceramic artist Joan Campbell (MBE) focused a large portion of her work around the form and geometry of the egg, stating the shape was honest, strong and gentle. This has always resonated with me, becoming qualities I look to reflect in both my life and approach to design.

Are there any designers or persons of significance who you admire or inspire you personally?
I am constantly inspired by other women advocating for social change. Young women such as Greta Thunberg and Grace Tame, have shown that no issue is too large or complex to tackle. Their resilience and unwavering determination remind me to ignore bias, stay true to your motivations and principles - to simply be the change you want to see.

Sophie Bond – Principal, Hassel

Where do you find ideas and inspiration?
For someone who designs buildings and interiors, I find a lot of my inspiration comes from being outside. I like to run, and I find good ideas come from that process of being on your feet, outside, looking at things. It creates enough space for my mind to wander and be creative.

Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
I read a quote recently by Aldous Huxley which said “it's a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.” Perhaps it really is that simple!

Do you use your platform and voice to inspire those around you? If so, how?
I hope so. You never know what others take away from your actions, but as the current Vice President of NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction), I do spend a lot of time thinking about how us as a chapter – and myself personally – can make a difference. Our mission for this year is to engage more with students, support the retention of women in the industry and to achieve some ambitious targets for women in senior and leadership roles.

Sophie Bond

Name one experience, which shaped your career.
I’ve loved the experience of working in different cities – for me, that’s London, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. I love that process of somewhere new becoming somewhere familiar. More than anything - living, working and travelling ultimately reminds me how much people have in common.

What is one societal/industry “norm” you choose to challenge, or you think should be challenged?
I remember being 27 and looking at a graph that showed women’s representation in architecture, by age. What the graph showed was fairly equal representation until 30, after which women’s participation in the industry fell off a cliff. It was confronting to think that at only 27, I was the best represented in my profession as I would ever be. I hope to challenge this by staying in architecture for a very long time – and encouraging other women to do the same. I love my job, I want to have a long and fulfilling career as an architect, and to be surrounded by a diverse team of men and women along the way.

Polly Harbison

Polly Harbison – Principal, Polly Harbison Design

Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
Connection to nature and simplicity are key principles to how I live my life. The unique topography of Sydney creates fantastic pockets of bushland close to the city, and my home is emersed in the bush. It was designed in the 1950’s, so everything is tiny by today’s standards – but I really love how this compact way of family living creates warmth and life. There are no silent empty spaces. The way our family lives is completely connected to outdoors – we shower outdoors (yes - it is best in the rain!), mostly eat outdoors and in winter we light the outdoor fire. I can love the crazy energy of my Surry Hills studio – because my day starts with of waking up to beautiful, ridiculously noisy birds and ends with a moonlit shower in the bush. Barefoot luxury!

Name one experience which shaped your career.
What really shaped my career was finding a mentor who both built the type of buildings I aspired to create, and just as importantly, had a way of working that resonated with how I wanted to live my life. When I started working for Clinton he lived and worked on far south coast. Most of the houses he was designing and had built were located within walking distance of his fabulous house and studio. He had a very handcrafted approach to his work. His way of choosing a colour was to stick 5 leaves from the tree outside on the wall and trust his painter with a pot of red, yellow and blue paint at his feet – to create a magic green. The most valuable lessons I learned were when we regularly popped in for cups of tea to old clients and experienced them living in spaces we designed – the good and the bad - dealing with weathering etc, rather than judging successful design from the glossy pretty photos.

Living Edge acknowledges the Traditional
Owners of Country throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to Elders past and present.