Features

Edwards Moore

May 4, 2011

Melbourne architects Ben Edwards and Juliet Moore discuss their philosophy for collaborative design and raw experimentation with Domingo Robledo.

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When the time came to consider the recent efforts of Edwards Moore, we knew there was something special to their creative process we wanted to delve into. The span of recent EM projects that have actually seen the light of day are few (at least until now), but we didn’t mind — mainly due to the fact that the calibre of work in everything we’ve seen of theirs, thus far, has left a solid impression, leaving us wanting more. Beyond potential, their designs reflect a relevant sensibility in modern architecture and design that – albeit it ‘young’ or whatever you wish to call it – embodies a certain spirit in today’s progressive design culture. Anchored in inspiration, and building on new ideas from one project to the next, Liverpool transplants Juliet Moore and Ben Edwards founded their design practice only two years ago, combining their characters dynamically into one creative vision that now builds with a new clientele in mind, one with shared values and outlook.

Somewhat notorious (for the better) in welcoming imaginative projects and briefs, we visited them recently for an open-ended brainstorm to engage them for this special profile portrait of sorts. Adding to our excitement in scratching the surface, we decided to keep things visual, tangible, but still abstract and on more philosophical or conceptual terms. We might have asked, so what makes EM tick as a practice, but were we really after a game of show-and-tell? With an open perspective on how they wanted to define the work (though it quite easily speaks for itself), the duo took a week to create a collage – a sort of temporary installation of inspiration – merely for our editorial purposes. What they then revealed to us on the day we returned was an introspective look at what they do as a creative, young practice, and in turn, how they collectively design and project themselves forward at point like this.

“This might start the conversation,” says Edwards – pointing to his scribbled notes on a massive white wall, layered with images and torn out pieces of notebook paper.

Spewed out on the board were the important things, all of sound conceptual merit, and all of which seemed to be valued equally by both. Presented in random order, the words and images made amazing sense when explained in more detail, but just looking at it all together was an experience in itself. What we looked at and studied on this wall was effectively the conjured up essence of these two minds working together, and how the process itself is what makes Edwards Moore the creative entity that it is, willing to explore ideas that matter and perhaps journey with the right clients and projects in mind.

Indeed, brainstorming works differently for everyone, but what we each take from it is the same: a better understanding of what matters as we aim forward in creating things. Ideas are communicated and passions are revealed, and in this process we recall what really makes the work important – worthwhile.

Universal responsibility, honesty, cultural awareness, water, the ethereal, biophilia, childhood & playfulness… These are just a few of the concepts that empower the creative process at a practice like Edwards Moore. Juliet looks up and says, “Though it might sound a bit socks-n-sandals, this is really where I’m at right now. These things matter in what we do.”

Ben reacts to her and says, “I think it’s also important for us, as a practice, to do this sort of thing every six months or so. Like going away [travelling] and seeing things, spending some time to reflect on what we’ve done and who we are – ‘are we doing the kind of work we want to be doing?’, ‘are we in the right place?’, ‘what’s important and isn’t important?’, ‘are we enjoying it?’ and so asking us to do this is quite nice.”

Further minding the sort of conceptual projects that have kept the two creatively engaged and active recently – besides completing their biggest residential project to date, Hillside Habitat, which is a new home to replace one of the many lost to Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires – it seems it is the ‘smaller’ things, the things that they don’t necessarily ‘need’ to do, that really make them an interesting and dynamic design practice. Things such as the mirrored set-design structure recently commissioned for the Midnight Juggernauts’ 2011 tour, or the exhibition design they realised for last year’s Fringe Furniture exhibit in Melbourne (a mountainous installation of wood chips that created a landscape of smart Australian furniture). It’s this will to take on the auxiliary creative endeavour as it presents itself, and to collaborate not only together but with others that are active, to realise the sort of things that hold to their own personal values, that ultimately embodies their spirit as creatives at work. This quality seems to keep them on edge and simultaneously grounded, in a very constructive way, and has also made them value the positive impact these creative experiments can have for them as a young practice.

In this case, our carte blanche not only serves them to illustrate a special and intimate creative process, but it reflects their love for the collaborative process, the ventures that can be so much more than what they do alone, for the sake of a standard brief or whatever the next proposal might present.

“This is really just showing our early process and talking about relevance,” says Ben, as he points to the images again. “This is talking about things you start to discover, and how they might grow into projects – people like Dan Graham and Haus Rucker were creating these projects that were more about direct experience, rather than just these abstract things. I love it.” Within a conceptual context, it makes sense to reference Graham and Rucker. These experimental legends were all about the abstract, and that mind-bending challenge, but they also wanted to play and break the mould, and engage in a different way.

www.edwardsmoore.com

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