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Interview: Russell and George

October 19, 2011

In the first of a series of interviews with this year’s IDEA Designer of the Year nominees, Richard Munao talks to Ryan Russell and Byron George about their growing young practice.

Ryan and Byron, congratulations on being shortlisted for the Designer of the Year award for IDEA 2011. What have been the most enjoyable projects for you this year?
Our most enjoyable projects, as always, are the ones that are yet to be complete. We have some really lovely residential clients who make the process quite rewarding. We have seen a big shift in our business into residential architecture and interiors and have a number of projects that have been recently completed or are still in construction.
For the projects that have been built this year, Mister Close and our Crumpler stores are stand out projects for us in terms of process, client belief and trust and overall outcome.

And what have been your more challenging moments for 2011?
We have been busy establishing an office in Rome as a European base to focus on some opportunities that have been arising there for us for a couple of years now. This has been a challenge, but the studio is now built for us to begin to operate sporadically in the future.

You were both running your own practices independently, before launching Russell & George in 2010. What made you decide to merge the two businesses into one collaborative practice?
We were sharing a studio space and found that we had complementary skills. We were also sole practitioners sharing resources, including staff and general office supplies. It was just a natural move to join forces and create an umbrella that allowed both of us to maintain our identities but then also have the support of a company structure to grow each business collaboratively.
Working alone is sometimes fraught with self-doubt and fear, and having each other just means that all that dull ego stuff is left at the door. We just tell each other how it is and get on with it.

You’ve both been quite prolific at retail and hospitality design. Where do you draw ideas and inspiration from for these projects?
We tend to draw ideas from abstract sources that are generally prompted by our interaction with the client. We tend not to look to the industry for inspiration but rather use the design, approval and construction process itself to generate the idea.

So what other projects are in the pipeline, and what are you looking forward to next year?
We have about 10 residential projects including interiors, complete houses and apartment buildings that will be complete next year or the year after. Some larger commercial projects and industrial design collaborations are also looming. We also have other projects planned with our repeat clients like Crumpler and Attica, who we always love working with. There are some other ventures and collaborations planned for next year, but we’ll just keep those under wraps for now.

Russell and George are one of six firms shortlisted for the Designer of the Year: Judges’ Award at IDEA 2011, sponsored by Corporate Culture.
www.idea-awards.com.au
www.corporateculture.com.au
www.russellandgeorge.com

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