When Jen asked me to join the Reno Addict team, I didn’t have to think about it at all! The chance to share my 30-plus years of experience as well as collaborate on all things design, renovation and real estate with my amazing co-contributors was an opportunity I could not refuse!
I love these subjects with a passion. I am that guy that if you ask me a very simple question about your home, I will spend the next hour asking questions, talking design philosophies, drawing plans, perspectives, sections and details on the back of a napkin or any scrap paper I can find! Alongside that will be a timeline and budget estimate!
I love all adventure sports, I am very competitive and love surfing and especially sailing, but nothing gets my blood pumping like the journey from a conversation about the way you live to broad strokes on paper, right through to the birth of a space that will be a part of someone’s life.
My career is vast and I feel very lucky that I have been able to design contemporary styled multi-million dollar homes, renovate heritage rich, master built state buildings, design and craft furniture and knock together a chicken coup with a mate and his kids in exchange for a BBQ sausage and cold beer on completion. For all my projects, regardless of the value, the size or the timeline in which it’s completed, I have and follow a very simple philosophy.
For any design project I will always consider what I call my Design SENSES:
S: Self and self-awareness.
Many people search photo libraries for inspiration for their space. Whilst this may help refine details later in the process, magazines, photo galleries etc are snapshots of other people’s lives or a styled photo contrived to turn on the consumer gene in your brain, tempting you to rush out and buy everything you see in that photo.
For a design to work, it must turn on all your emotions and to have that strength the first consideration must be the relationship you want to have with others in the space. Analyse that relationship, how you want guests in the space to feel, and write all these thoughts down then put them in order of importance and refer back to them.
E: Entry and Exit.
Architecture can’t force people to connect, only plan the crossing points and stage the journey. How you orientate the entry not only determines the start and finish of your journey, which should never be rushed, it also should give a hint of the personality of the people who occupy the space as well as the personality of the space itself. The way you allow movement through the space to turn on many emotions. Be surprising but balanced, to enjoy the focal point or vista of a space.
Your niche is your identity and it’s what makes you ‘you’. If you are having an identity crisis with design then I guess you can’t figure out who you are or how to express that. If you’re working with a client or for your own space, it’s very important not to lose this niche or spirit in a space. It may be a classic piece of furniture, a view or an artwork. These are ideal moments to determine a focal point.
This is what identifies it as yours or your client’s own, best achieved with colour and texture. Be bold, be subtle, but be honest to the people who will inhabit the space.
I have always been passionate about our environment and that passion has amplified since the birth of my twins, Bennet and Arabella. For all of my projects, I consider not just this lifetime but how what I do today will affect my children’s life and their planet. The health and wellbeing of the fabrics, material and coatings you use will be reflected and recognised in the soul of your space and designs
S: Sunlight & mechanical light.
If not considered, artificial light will dull your senses and drain the space you have created of all life and personality. Light is the final layer of your space. It’s the layer that changes regularly and without reference. Nothing plays on you senses and emotions like light, whether it’s the morning glow of the sun, the dance of the moon or the mood set by mechanical light.
By all means reflect on my design SENSES but I encourage you to create and develop your own too. They will vary from job to job, but I promise this investment will pay dividends 10-fold.
Architecture and the built environment are essentially an extension of nature into your world. It is necessary to find a balance between control of the space and a freedom which allows things to happen. If you build your space or project on paper from the ground up over and over again, continually increasing the detail, you will not only build confidence in the design but also start building your critical construction, path and budget. It’s an extension of the old saying: measure twice, cut once.