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 this light of celebrating people, March is a month dedicated to the social, economic, cultural achievements of women. The month marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality. In honour of Women’s History Month, we’re paying tribute to inspiring women who have made waves in Australian architecture and design. We asked our team to nominate women in our local design community to discuss challenges and inspiration.
Melanie Porrins, Senior Associate · Woods Bagot
LE: What is one societal/industry “norm” you choose to challenge, or you think should be challenged?
MP: That you will get quality design in unrealistic time frames. The size of the project scope and the level of design expectation should match the time and subsequent fee required to develop the right design. When they don’t align, a quality outcome is unlikely.
It takes time and careful thought to develop exceptional design. It rarely happens instantaneously or in a straight line; in my experience the right answer reveals itself through the design process, but this does not always align with time and cost constraints which are an obvious reality in our industry. I think the pandemic, while it caused such a great deal of uncertainty, forced us to step back and pause – and think a little bit more about what we are doing and why.
Alexis Kusinski, Designer · MKDC Workspace Designers
LE: Are there any certain principles you live your life by?
AK: Be present. You never know when something or someone will spark a new idea or challenge our assumptions. Design inspiration comes from interactions with people and lived experience of the built environment. This is why it is so important to be present, listen, absorb and create memories. Too often we get caught up in our daily routines and social media presence, that we forgo opportunities to form genuine connections. For me, this is our challenge as designers – to create immersive spaces and provide opportunities for intimate shared experiences between people and places.
LE: What qualities do you admire in other people?
AK: Kindness is a quality that should never be overlooked.
Simone Haag, Stylist + interior designer · Simone Haag
LE: Where do you find ideas and inspiration?
SH: Inspiration comes from everywhere around me - nature, fashion, people, art, magazines and fabrics. In terms of my interior design – I would say I am more often than not inspired by a furniture piece - and then create the scheme around it – rather than design a room and look for the right furniture piece to suit the room.
Jane Ledger · Jane Ledger Interiors
LE: How do you use your platform and voice to inspire those around you?
JL: I love sharing experiences with fellow designers and acting as a sounding board for the business challenges we face each day. The more we lift and improve each other, the better we can serve our clients.
I would love to change people’s perceptions of what interior designers do. Yes it’s a creative pursuit and requires passion and artistic skill but it’s also a profession. As designers, we are running businesses. Businesses that employ people, engage a huge network of affiliated trades and suppliers and deliver valuable outcomes to clients. The things we do every day to execute projects to a high standard are complex, technical, precise and require high levels of application and expertise. Educating clients starts with us. We must value what we do before anyone else can. I love sharing experiences with fellow designers and encouraging us all to stand tall as design professionals and stand by the value we provide. I’m so proud of the contributions our industry makes to the well-being of our clients, and the economy as a whole.
Davina Bester · Milieu Creative
LE: Tell us about your practice.
DB: Milieu Creative is equally about design as it is about our people. Securing the right team, client, consultants, trades and builder with the same aspirations for creating exceptional outcomes is the key to the success of each of our projects.
Lisa Reeves, Director · Design Theory
LE: Name one experience which shaped your career.
LR: Strangely enough I would say my career in interior design has been largely shaped by a last-minute decision to change out of an interior design course. After finishing high school, I was accepted into Interior Architecture but at the last minute changed to Visual Arts. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. Art school taught me to see the world, its aesthetics and how elements come together to create meaning. Perhaps most importantly it was a place where I was encouraged to generate ideas and look at challenges from a different perspective, learning to trust in my own unique approach. This formative experience continues to shape my practice today and I would recommend art school to anyone.
Dominique Tiller, Senior Interior Designer · Cox Architecture
LE: Are there any events that impacted your career or persons of significance who you admire or inspire you personally?
DT: Moving to London at 20 years old to study Interior Design, surrounded by constant streams of inspiration from the various venues, design museums, people & street life, to the energy and beauty of London itself, went onto work with one of the leading International Interior Designers, Kelly Hoppen MBE & CBE. It was this experience in my formative years that inspired me the most and gave me the confidence to start my own interiors business on my return to Perth from the age of 27!