2013 Market Winner: State Government of Victoria by peckvonhartel

As the winners of the 2013 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 48 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.

Neil Christopher, National Interior Design Leader at peckvonhartel, spoke with us about storytelling, simplicity and designing for the human response.

When did you decide to pursue a profession in design?
I came to design later than usual; having had a career in Theatre, where I enjoyed the immediate impact storytelling has on people. I was in my late 20’s and it was important therefore for me to be involved in a creative output that had the potential to have an effect on people’s lives. I strongly believe that design has the ability to influence human behavior and shape our understanding of the world and Interior Architecture and Design seemed to be a perfect outlet. Interior Design, in my opinion, uses aesthetics as a tool but is deeply rooted in the interpretation and influence of how we live in the world.

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What about this project represents why you choose to be a designer?
The client for this project is involved in an industry that needs to encourage open, non-judgmental and transparent interactions. As such, the design of this environment needed to respond to the human as a priority, and not the architectural shell. It is for this reason that the project excited all of us in the studio. It gave us an opportunity to fully develop a designed solution that quietly encouraged these behaviors and characteristics, but also provided a design that was refined, simple and at the same time beautiful. The balance between these objectives was where design becomes exciting for me and as a result, this project represents the heart of what we try to do as design professionals.

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What has been the reaction to the space?
Our feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The client has been very supportive of the design and perhaps most importantly, the other external stakeholders have responded in a manner that has made the work undertaken within the environment more effective. This space is non-threatening and to a degree is a humble and non-egotistical space that has put the needs of our client and their visitors before the need of us as designer to create vivid and amazing spaces. The result however is one that is highly refined and very well designed. Each element in the design was selected for a pureness and honesty that didn’t hide behind ‘bling’, but rather spoke to integrity and craftsmanship.

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