“I wanted to be an architect from about the age of seven,” says Sunshine Coast interior designer Mark Gacesa, of Ultraspace. His father was an interior designer and as a youngster ‘forced’ to work in the family business instead of surf with his mates, Mark developed a passion for the trade. “I was constantly involved in the process of multiple projects from the age of about 12 and loved seeing the end results and the satisfaction my dad brought to people after being invited into their homes and lives. He taught me that in order to best assist your client, you must become your client. What a great piece of advice!”
Mark’s senior year was the first time QUT offered an interior design degree in Queensland. “I had the option of going into Architecture or Interior Design… the rest is history. However, my passion for architecture shows very strongly in my work.”
He doesn’t think Queensland design gets the kudos and media coverage it deserves. “There are many amazing projects and super creative designs going on up here. For example, I am currently working on two incredible projects… one is a luxurious resort-style house with a beach in the middle of it and another is a glamorous ranch-style getaway complete with its own helipad!”
Predictable is the last thing Mark’s work is. “I’m always creating original concepts that the client could never have imagined, but ultimately loves. I enjoy conjuring up innovative ideas with the use of new and exciting products and taking my clients on a journey with me that builds their excitement as we go. My extensive customisation affords my clients the opportunity to achieve their own incredibly unique signature look rather than mimic what’s been done (and overdone) before.”
Originality, clever use of texture, intricate lighting design (which he says is a crucial element to any space) and heavy use of unique custom designed concepts are his signature elements. “I move anywhere from 7-star hotel look, ultra-glam Dubai influences to modern ‘could be in a New York nightclub’ vibe, to relaxed, contemporary Balinese resort inspired, to luxurious and sophisticated Fifth Avenue Manhattan feel. There are no aesthetic limits!” A great designer, in Mark’s opinion, can achieve any ‘look’ the client desires.
He prides himself on his creative originality and ability to master a wide cross section of design disciplines. “This allows me to control the continuity of a project. I can totally remodel the architectural spaces, both internally and externally, and I custom design a lot of elements, from lighting to basins to furniture to wallpaper to mirrors and cladding. I like to create originality for a client and not necessarily reuse what other people have created. For example, in a recent project that won the Master Builders Best Renovation in Queensland (as well as other local and national kitchen and bathroom awards), not only did I totally redesign the interior spaces including the kitchen and bathrooms, I also ripped off the back of the house! I designed it to fully open up to the amazing views with a massive covered entertaining space, an extravagant entry drive through porte-cochere complete with a huge water feature and two-metre bronze Buddha, bridged entry walkway, circular driveway, designed the stone street entrance with electronic bamboo and carved fretwork gates, all the landscape design and also designed the pool refurbishment.” Phew! “It was a massive overhaul that was very challenging and well appreciated. It helps to have a great team of tradespeople to liaise with,” says Mark.
His work is all over Australia’s East Coast. The majority of projects are residential but he loves variety and has also done professional suites, restaurants and bars, and retail spaces. “If I couldn’t customise at least one thing in a client project I’d feel like I was trapped in a jar with the lid on! Over the years I have been recognised with quite a few awards because of my design originality – it’s who I have always been,” says Mark. “This career allows me to express my creativity and help people at the same time – it really is a blessing.”
His dad has been a constant inspiration, in life and design. “I still regularly bounce ideas off him. I am also inspired by all my fellow designers and tradespeople both here and abroad who are great at what they do. I love mixing and chatting with them, sharing thoughts and ideas. I love it when people aren’t envious or guarded about success. In the end, nobody can do exactly what you do if you are really good at it.”
His own home is a work in progress that he designed four years ago and built one year ago. “We’re on two acres but it looks like 50 acres without a neighbour in sight. It’s still ahead of the curve even though I designed it ages ago and people are always stopping out the front to just look or take photos (the cheeky bastards)! The interior is mostly moody with injections of white to add contrast. I have a full DJ console in my living space that floats above a semicircle of artificial turf, which punches out through the stacker doors to become the daybed lounging space, along with a pool table area and large booth seating. There are some awesome light fittings, fretwork paneling, loads of high end glass beaded and metallic wallpapers, some great art and heaps more features. It’s a showroom!”
Being a straight man in the industry is a rarity. “As a straight guy I definitely bring something different to the design table. I don’t know why there aren’t more straight guys in the game. It can be very technical, butch and hands-on and look at all the amazingly glamorous and talented designer ladies they’d get to hang out with!”
Photography by Mark Gacesa