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What ADR’s 30UNDER30 listens to at work


Music at work – it’s a surprisingly divisive subject. Top 40 hits and classical concertos can be too distracting for those who need total silence or a bit of ambient noise to really knuckle down. Meanwhile, some creatives find the audio artistry of others to be good fuel for their own endeavours.

Australian Design Review asked its new 30UNDER30 cohort from the Architects and Innovators of the Built World program to share the tracks on loop in their earphones while they have their heads buried in CAD programs, spreadsheets or other creative software.

Gordon Akira Macindoe – graduate of architecture
Gordon Akira Macindoe

Favourite sounds: Save Me by Skin On Skin

“With the repeated sample, it’s incredibly meditative,” says Macindoe. 

“I feel like the BPM is the perfect middle ground between dancing and working — and that’s a great place to be.”

Hugo Chan – architect
Hugo Chan

Favourite sounds: Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall

“A wonderful tune that helps me concentrate, but more importantly reminds me of all the growth and transformation Andrea Sachs undergoes working for Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada,” says Chan.

Claire Oh – graduate of architecture
Claire Oh

Favourite sounds: Under Pressure by Queen

“I have always been a music person,” says Oh. 

“Everywhere I go I would surround myself in 1980s, ‘90s and even ‘00s pop. The one place, however, that I do not really listen to music is at work. I find that it helps me focus and ground myself when I immerse myself in the sounds of the office (often quite bustling). 

“However, on the odd day that I am feeling a bit low and stressed, I will jam to Queen’s  Under Pressure.”

Isabella Peppard Clark – architect
Isabella Peppard Clark

Favourite sounds: Female rap

“I take hip hop dance classes so I’m usually listening to female rap at work,” says Peppard Clark. “It’s energetic, fast-paced and it’s all about feeling empowered, which I find motivating. It also helps you to focus when you have a deadline or multiple simultaneous deadlines.

“Recently I found out people assume I listen to pop – which could not be further from the truth!”

Naa Effia Atswei Adjei – architect
Naa Adjei

Favourite sounds: Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy featuring Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin

Runnin’ (Lose It All) is one of the many songs I listen to while working,” says Adjei.

“Audibly the song reminds me of soundwaves, with its peaks and falls. The song begins with soft background noise before the piano notes are joined by Beyoncé’s ethereal voice. The song continues to build, picking up the tempo through the verse before dropping back down to a softer tempo with just vocals and piano after the chorus. 

“This pattern also continues when Arrow Benjamin’s power vocals join in. The song crescendos once more with both singers before the song ends as it started, with Beyoncé’s soulful voice and the piano. Down, up, down, up, down, up, down.

“The change in tempo in the piece keeps me interested and the gradual change in intensity keeps me focused and energised at the same time, fostering my creativity.

“The lyrics are a bonus for me as the message of the song is about personal growth, overcoming obstacles and introspection.”

Harsha Rajashekar – graduate of architecture
Harsha Rajashekar

Favourite sounds: Spring 1 by Max Richter

“It helps stimulate my creativity because of its gradual build up and general tone of hopefulness,” says Rajashekar.  

“When it plays, I feel like I’m ready to tackle any design challenge.”

Alvin Zhu – content creator and Master of Architecture student
Alvin Zhu

Favourite sounds: Studio Ghibli 

“Listening to a Studio Ghibli piano playlist while working is delightful,” says Zhu. 

“Not only does it help me maintain focus, but it also cultivates a soothing ambience that boosts my creativity as the music evokes memories of the beautiful films, adding a touch of nostalgia to my work environment.” 

Eilish Barry – project leader 
Eilish Barry

Favourite sounds: Green noise

“I actually listen to green noise when I’m doing research,” says Barry.

“It takes me to a place where I feel like I’m outside, listening to the birds or the sound of rain. Because it doesn’t have lyrics or a tune, I’m able to have it as background while I write the text or do some deep thinking.” 

Kaitlin Sells – architect
Kaitlin Sells

Favourite sounds: Limonene by Jfab

“I’m actually terrible at multi-tasking and sometimes find it really hard to listen to music and work at the same time,” says Sells. 

“If there is music playing while I’m working it’s got to be something a bit repetitive with a good beat that plays on a loop – that helps me focus. My go-to lately is Jfab’s Limonene.”

Listen to the 30UNDER30 work playlist below:

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