Andrew Maynard is anything but your typical architect; he makes furniture, designs an array of merchandise for his shop including t-shirts and skate-decks and creates polemical fictions. What are polemical fictions, I hear you ask? Well, most simply they’re fictional designs which could never be possible in the real world, that make a political comment.
“These fictions are important to the way that I work,” explains Andrew. “They are fun and enable me to stretch my design thinking, to deal with different constraints, and most importantly, to make public comments about issues and politics that are extremely important. Polemical fictions I’ve designed include a building constructed out of human remains, giant suburb-eating robots and parliamentary buildings on wheels amongst many, many other ideas!”
But for Andrew it’s not all robots and human remains; he is also the founding director of the very successful firm, Andrew Maynard Architects (AMA). Started in 2002, Andrew sees AMA’s purpose as: “Taking things that people are convinced are broken and, with some creative thinking, making them work in ways that are better and unexpected.”
Andrew brought on a second director, Mark Austin, in 2007. “I’d gone very hard, very quickly in the first five years of AMA,” says Andrew. “So I simply had to find someone clever to share the load. It’s great to have someone take charge of some of the decision-making, to collaborate with, to strategise with and importantly to have someone who is able to tell me when I’m being a dickhead, without fear of being fired!”
With a team of six, they work across residential, commercial and hospitality, though lately they have been focusing primarily on residential design. They do everything from the architecture to the final interior decoration and have a style that is often described as playful (their Hill House is a prime example!) “We are very serious and rigourous when designing and completing a building,” says Andrew. “However I am very pleased that the joy of our design intent shines through once people inhabit our architecture.”
Not afraid to break the boundaries of traditional architecture and interior design, this approach is a result of Andrew’s creativity, which is found in quite unlikely places. “I’ve always said that the things that made you happy as a child are most likely the things that will make you happy as an adult. So I often refer back to comics, illustration, skateboarding, Tasmania and Star Wars for inspiration and creativity. All of these things conspired to turn me into the designer that I am today.”
Having created a sustainable and balanced business after a great deal of effort and risk in the early days, Andrew is now enjoying the fruits of his labour. “Having my own firm means I get to do what I want, which is awesome. Life’s short and I wanted to make sure that my daylight hours were being spent the way that I wanted, rather than the way an employer wanted. You’re a long time dead!”