A.L Tell us about your background — have you always had an interest in architecture and design?
I grew up in a creative household, born to parents also of the architecture profession. As a child, we travelled regularly. Having a Venezuelan mother, we would often visit relatives in Venezuela via New York and Miami. Each trip was centred around architecture. We visited many Art Deco and early modernist buildings in America; Frank Lloyd Wright’s work left a strong impression on me.
It was this early exposure to architecture and design that inspired me to explore a career in the creative industry. However, my sense of curiosity has always been there. Initially drawn to furniture design, I was learning by osmosis most of my life until I undertook my own architecture studies at the University of Sydney.
A.L Your studio's philosophy is predicated on considered simplicity. How does that manifest in each of your projects?
“The poetry of reduction” is my design mantra. I’m driven by the pursuit of simplicity, elegance and timelessness, with the belief that a sense of calm and wellbeing can be achieved through design. Regardless of expression – architecture, interiors, or furniture design – I do seek to inspire human engagement and a connection with nature whilst celebrating the artisanal; applying a modern lens to materials, colours and textures inspired by the raw landscape of home. I like to think we articulate a uniquely Australian voice with global resonance.
A.L As well as your work in architecture, you also design furniture collections. How do you split your time between these endeavours?
Lifestyle is important in the creative process. As a daily ritual, I start my day usually between 8-9 AM sketching concepts, from furniture to architectural forms. I treat each design as a research project where I build a narrative around a concept I’m trying to convey. I never rush this process, each design at completion is highly resolved and considered. This is generally followed by a little bit of sales, with the majority of my day immersed in architecture and interior projects. At the end of each day, I like to go for a walk, reset and clear my head.
In terms of managing time, it’s always a work in progress for me. I have been reading many books about building and breaking habits which I have found very helpful. Finding what works for you is crucial in using your time wisely. I know that I’m more creative and productive in the mornings and so this is where I get the bulk of my work done and it has taken a while for me to allow myself to take a break when needed. Efficiency is important and the benefits of taking a break in the afternoon for a short walk or to just step away from my desk does help in the long run.
A.L Which materials are you currently experimenting with?
Within my practice, I’m always experimenting with quality Australian materials. I’m currently detailing a project with Roman bricks, which is new for us. As a material, it is slim-lined and textured. I’m also looking to work with salvaged slab woods with expressive grains for some new furniture pieces. I’m about to start a pottery course, and I’m looking forward to working with my hands and experimenting with clay for the first time.
A.L What can you share with us about the process of designing your own home in Byron Bay?
For me, the plan is always the generator of form. Our home was built in the late 90s and backs onto a natural reserve (also a haven for koalas); however, it needed a refresh. The existing floor plan needed resolving; we designed a courtyard to the front of the house as a device to create privacy from the street, framing views of the sky and gardens. By treating the landscaping as outdoor rooms, the house feels like a coastal oasis. Living areas have been re-oriented to open out to the courtyard and natural reserve at the rear. Long lines of sight have been established through the open-plan living arrangement.
The interiors have been designed with a neutral material colour palette of fresh whites, combined with sandy tones, pale greys and earthy textures, mirroring the landscape. I was after a neutral interior to which I could add different furniture pieces over time, trialling living with them before release to the public. Like most of my designs, the materials used are simple, honest and robust, with American Oak flooring, limed oak joinery, sisal carpet and bluestone crazy paving.
A.L Where are you looking for inspiration this year?
I will be looking to nature for inspiration. I plan to get outdoors more and draw natural forms and structures that inspire me and see what comes of that. I want to integrate my creative process within the landscape, which I’m so heavily inspired by across all areas of my practice.
A.L Are you able to share anything about any in-the-works projects?
I’m currently working on a new furniture collection and experimenting with quality Australian materials, colours and textures, all inspired by the raw landscape. I’m excited by three architectural commissions that are currently on the drawing board: a new house in Palm Beach and two in Mosman, Sydney. Each design will respond respectfully to its coastal setting.