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Hamish Guthrie: why Hecker Guthrie ‘marches to the beat of its own drum’

Hamish Guthrie: why Hecker Guthrie ‘marches to the beat of its own drum’


In the lead up to IDEA 2018 ADR is running a series of interviews with the esteemed jury panel and this week it’s the turn of Hamish Guthrie, co-director of Hecker Guthrie. We caught up with the interior designer to find out why in a competitive industry it’s important to stay focussed on your own practice. You can enter this year’s awards here

ADR: What’s the biggest misconception that people have about life in a design practice?

Hamish Guthrie: That everything will go perfectly; we are creating bespoke projects for clients, which are one-of-a-kind. Design is a linear process and [the misconception is] that everything through that process will go perfectly. In essence the project is the prototype.

The best projects are often born out of successful negotiating of these challenges and the relentless pursuit of the original project vision with factors that are there to conspire against a successful outcome.

How do you keep challenging yourself individually and as a practice?

By being your own harshest critic. With critical analysis of our own work through daily workshops, weekly inspiration sessions and with internal brand review.

We touch base with staff on a daily basis in a workshop environment to thrash out ideas. On a weekly basis we get together as a studio where everyone has the opportunity to bring to the table things that inspire them, things that challenge them and things to ponder.

On a broader platform, we focus on who we are as a practice with a clear vision of what the studio is and the ideas that underpin it. To formulate that clear vision on what we stand for and articulate it, so we are all on the same page.

What has remained evergreen in your creative approach and what continues to evolve?

‘The Big Ideas’. Under pinning every project is a series of big ideas that we hold true in the studio. It is through the form and the way it is represented through each project to create something unique.

It is through the creative application and interpretation of these ideas, specific to each project, which leads to something unique but at the end of the day there is always that clear vision to create something different and successful for our clients.

As a medium sized business, how do you remain innovative as smaller, younger practices emerge?

It is nice to reflect on the past and think that once we were the new kids on the block. Celebrate in the reality that this is no longer us.

While innovation is important for any design practice, so too is not losing sight of who you are. You need to be true to who you are as a studio and the foundations of what the business was built on. It is crucial to learn from your experiences, both the good and the bad, to then refine your own craft and the ideas of the studio.

You should be aware of what is taking place in the industry and still remain relevant but focus back on what you’re doing; march to the beat of your own drum.

What’s one design rule that you like to break?

That the client isn’t always right. Of course, we listen to our clients but they are paying us good money for our experience and advice. We challenge our clients through a rigorous design process and it makes for better outcomes.

As a judge of IDEA 2018, what will you be looking for in the entries?

Interior projects that go beyond just representing an aesthetic: projects that stand out are the projects that have a story and a deeper narrative, which underpins the interior environment.

Missed last week’s judge’s interview? You can read the conversation with SJB Interiors’ Kirsten Stanisich here.


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