Today I'm thrilled to be presenting the second in my Mums in Design series (read the first one here), featuring an interview with Australian architect and Mum, Georgina Wilson. Georgina is the owner of the award winning practice - Georgina Wilson Architect as well as a Mum to three beautiful kids. I have to admit to having known Georgina from our previous lives as classical music students, but both of us have moved on to bigger and better things and it's been great to get back in contact after many years.
Georgina's practice specialises in high end residential and commercial design. She has had an ongoing partnership with Sydney Eye Specialist Centre and is currently working with them to complete a new project in Double Bay in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. With her team, she has been responsible for some other amazing projects that involve really creative solutions to tricky problems, some of which I will be featuring today. I absolutely love the ensuite that has been squeezed into the top of this Paddington terrace, for example. More of this project below.
Read on as Georgina tells me all about her practice, how she juggles her work and family, her design trend predictions and how she has adapted her own style for life with her little people...
Image credit: Murray Fredericks
1. Tell us a little bit about your background. What attracted you to the world of architecture and what led you to starting your own architecture practice?
I fell into architecture after a failed attempt at a musical and dance career. I have always loved maths and art and upon leaving school a friend (who was an established architect), suggested that I consider architecture as a career. As it turned out, after a few failed attempts at becoming other things I found my calling as an architect.
2. You have three kids (and a husband!) and a thriving business. How do you juggle it all?
I have a lot of help! I have a wonderful team of four architects and a financial administrator at the office. We work together on each project, each person contributes according to their particular talents. We collaborate with several related professionals on certain projects – artists, photographers, builders, various craftsmen - and this is very rewarding.
I am very fortunate to also have a lot of support at home. We live and work in the same suburb, which I love. My office is 5 minutes’ walk from home so there is no wasted commute time.
3. So far in your career you have had some big jobs. What are your favourite types of projects to work on and what have been some of your favourites so far ?
I love all of our projects for different reasons. We facilitate the creation of our Clients’ dream environments so each project has the capacity to take us somewhere quite different. We have projects on the drawing board at the moment that are very diverse and exciting, from a Spanish Hacienda, a Paddington terrace, an exotic Hawaiian tropical retreat, a beachside bungalow, a Hamptons style villa. We enjoy finding the right way to encapsulate Client’s preferences into their particular site.
Examples below are from one of Georgina's projects a residence in Oatley Road, Paddington.
Image credits: Murray Fredericks
4. How would you describe your personal design aesthetic at home? How have you had to adapt your style to accommodate little people?
I have a strong feeling that space should be logical, simple, and beautiful. The simple and beautiful part can come in many different forms, but it is important to me that spaces are rigorously functional. This becomes even more important when considered in relation to the way we live – in a house with 7 people!
Good design can literally make your world go round. The layout of our house is very well conceived and is the background to our lives. The upper level is for sleeping. The ground floor is public space. We all come together to cook meals, talk, watch tv, and play. We often have other friends or family around. We try to keep things fairly minimal – we do not have a lot of ‘stuff’.
I find it impossible to manage this if we accumulate too much. Our furniture and belongings could perhaps be described as ‘eclectic’. We have some furniture and crockery from my late grandma, Darling. This alongside a few key pieces that are relatively modern. Our massive dining table is great – we do everything at this table – kids draw, glue, eat, spill stuff.
We also rigged up a plywood table top for an old refectory table that we had and made the kids a ‘train table’ out of it. Occupies them all for hours and is brilliant as it keeps the small pieces off the floor where the babies are. Storage is essential – everything must have a place – preferably somewhere out of sight! I have come to absolutely adore timber flooring. It is just so tough, and I think it can be very beautiful.
5. What does a typical day usually involve for you?
I always try to fit some exercise into my day. I spend the day either in the office – drawing or talking with my team, or out at meetings which could be on site, with Clients or other consultants or suppliers. It is quite varied, depending upon what we have on. By 7:30, everyone is home and we all have dinner together. It is a bit chaotic, but it is important to me that we all eat as a family.
Images of Georgina and her family at home taken by Noel Mclaughlin
6. What are your top 5 design resources - across any media?
- Garance Dore;
- And I love walking around Sydney.
7. What are your top interior trend predictions for 2014?
- The man cave
- Communal living
- Clever and beautiful wine storage
- Streamlining of design due to improved technological infrastructure
- The multi-function covered outdoor space – gazebo, cabana.
8. What are your favourite design products for life with little people?
- A good pair of shoes – birkenstocks or rubber soled sneakers
- A nice refillable water bottle – Camelbak makes good ones
- A good hat – my favourite is by Helen Kaminski
- A nice light, fairly large scarf – covers you from the sun, keeps baby warm, breastfeeding cover up, shades baby while sleeping, can use as a change mat or picnic blanket.
- An indestructible buggy – we have used our bugaboo for all three kids – it’s been invaluable.
- Ikea plastic high chair
- A nice cross body bag or backpack – instead of a baby bag as such. Something you can wear and be ‘hands free’.
- Timber floors;
- Polyurethane joinery – can be wiped down easily;
- Our baby jail at home has been useful for providing a safe haven for our youngest child. It is pretty ugly though.
9. Who are your favourite designers?
- Isabel Marant;
- Georg Jensen;
- Petit bateau.
10. Who inspires you?
I find a lot of people I work with inspiring. People who bring huge energy to their occupation, everyday. I find my mum and dad inspiring – they maintain a very successful business and love what they do. They have a lot of energy for work, play and family. I like the fact that they always have a positive outlook, they make things look easy.
11. Tell us a little bit more about your practice and how we can contact you.
I absolutely love our team here at GWA. We currently consist of 4 staff, all of us Architects. In addition, we have a financial manager, who is involved with the Practice in a part-time capacity. We like to work as a coherent team, providing a continuum of service. We all work together in one space so there is a lot of transparency about different projects and the way the business works. Every staff member has some knowledge of each project. We can be contacted via our website Georgina Wilson Architect.