Felicity and Sarah from Studio Esteta are a dream design team. As an old school friend Pip has always dreamt of working with Felicity, so when their incredibly successful concept for The SONIC was executed to perfection, it was a no brainer to enlist their help for Pip’s dream home. We chat with Felicity about why working with an architect will be the best decision you make.
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Felicity, tell us a bit about yourself and your role as one half of Studio Esteta.
“I completed a Master’s Degree of Architecture at Sydney University and am a registered architect in both Victoria and NSW. Sarah completed an Honours Degree of a Bachelor of Interior Architecture at Monash University.
Being in a partnership, we strive for a collaborative approach between us and for our studio. We approach the initial phases of our projects together, in particular client briefings and workshops as well as our own internal workshops. This provides us with the opportunity to determine projects roles and objectives as well as strong conceptual and design ideas before evenly splitting the projects to completion.
Between us both, we have equally delegated the administrative and marketing tasks that are critical for a small business, including business development, forecasting, resourcing, marketing etc. This assists us to both equally be across and prioritise the creative side of our projects.”
How did it all begin for Studio Esteta?
“As individual designers, we both aspired to one day start our own design studio. We’ve both always had a strong and broad passion for architecture and design, and hoped to one day put our names to the hard work and dedication we’ve had for our profession. With many shared values, both on a personal and professional level, and a design aesthetic that aligned, our skillsets were and continue to be complimentary.
Whilst working as colleagues at Clare Cousins Architects we developed a strong friendship and working relationship and it was at a later stage in our careers that our paths crossed and the opportunity arose for us to join forces, and Studio Esteta was born.
Forming a partnership, and building a small practice has had its challenges, but being on this journey together, has made it feel anything but daunting.”
How have you enjoyed working on this project for Pip and Speedy?
"It is always a pleasure working with Pip and Speedy. Having previously worked with them for the Sonic fitout, we feel there is a mutual appreciation for design and detail and a strong sense of collaboration between us all, which is really important for the success of a project. It is also always such a fun experience working with them. We have particularly enjoyed working on their new family home as it is such a unique and beautiful site and a project that is so personal to them, and it has been an honour to be a part of that journey. We also feel it has been an amazing opportunity for us to push the boundaries with regards to design, both architecturally and from an interior design perspective, particularly with Pip's flare for the extraordinary. It has challenged us to think outside the box to create a project that is both responsive to the site and context but also a highly tailored outcome for Pip and Speedy and their family."
What is your favourite element of the home and why?
"The contrast between its highly robust and proud exterior and it's textural and sensual interior. Both with different characteristics, however both working in harmony together. Whilst the architecture stands proud and strong within the landscape, the interior provides a welcoming highly emotive experience as you move through all the spaces, almost like a warm hug from someone you love."
What considerations need to be made when building on the side of a hill or sloping block?
"When designing a building within the landscape, it is the landscape that really needs to be considered first, to ensure the architecture appears as if it was always there, as if it is part of the landscape. When designing a building to sit within a sloping landscape, consideration needs to be given to an area of the landscape that will allow the building to insert itself into that terrain and not appear as though it is just balancing on the edge. This can be achieved by excavating into the slope of the land, to carve out a space for the building to nestle in to.
Materiality also needs to be considered and adopted to so as to complement and respect the surrounding (changing) landscape."
Has it been challenging working with a client in a different state?
"Facilitating a project with the designer and client and site geographically separate is definitely challenging. You take for granted the ability to drop into site to check on progress and be able to resolve project related item in person with the builder. Even the simpler things like taking a sample to site to see how it works in the light, or test patch samples of a floor stain or paint colour. As a Studio, we have had a lot of experience working on interstate projects and we find that the success of the project comes down to strong communication lines between all parties. Also, given the breadth of technology that we have at hand these days, we have found video calls have been an amazing tool in being able to communicate with Pip and Speedy throughout this process. We also have immense trust in both Pip and Speedy in terms of the execution of the build, and therefore it has made the whole process extremely enjoyable and efficient, despite the physical distance. It also provides for a more fulfilling experience as the success of the project comes down to process and communication as much as the development of a design concept."
What are the benefits of engaging an architect or designer?
“The process of designing and constructing an architectural or interior project can often be complex and time consuming. There are so many elements that need to be considered so an Architect/Designer’s role is to help the Client through the process, from developing their brief into a resolved design and ensuring this design is executed to a high level of quality, finish and as documented during the construction phase. As Architects and designers we also consider every project in a holistic manner to ensure that everything works harmoniously together and our designs are contextually responsive. We create environments that are enjoyable to be in, that are socially and environmentally responsible and functional for the end user, and seek to be timeless.”
How would someone find an architect/ designer that is best suited them and their project?
“Firstly, it is helpful to think carefully about your project scope, your needs and requirements, and your wish list! Putting together a list of potential architects/designers that could be suited to your style and the nature of your project would be the next step. Thinking about studios whose aesthetic and values align, or those that have worked on projects in your community or for friends or family is essential.
Once you have come to a refined list of studios, make contact with your preferred choice either through calling or emailing. A phone conversation is always most productive and what we (on the other side) respond best to. Requesting a portfolio of their work is also helpful if they don’t have a website or media platform you can refer to. It is highly beneficial and integral to meet with the architect/ designer to discuss your project, the scope, timing etc. This provides the opportunity to gauge the personality of the studio and its key people to assist in your decision-making. It is a long process, so the time invested in this early stage is highly beneficial!”
(All images courtesy of Studio Esteta)