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Every week in our Q&ADR column, ADR interviews an architect, designer, object maker or industry person about who they are beyond the work – their life, inspiration, challenges and aspirations.
This week we meet Nicole Pollak, co-owner and managing director of Siren Design. Pollak discusses what it takes to be a director, her love for MONA and how she finally realised her passion…when it was under her nose all along.
ADR: Tell us about your background and how your interest in interior design came about.
Pollak: The concept of ‘design’ appealed to me before I really knew or understood what ‘design’ actually was.
My first memory of my desire to be a designer was at school in year seven. The school I attended only offered fine art in the creative subjects, therefore I graduated high school with a fine art folio, rather than anything resembling design.
I then studied interior architecture and when I was a year into the course I had a ‘duh’ moment, realising that of course I was destined for interior architecture… I was the daughter of a builder! I had been on building sites since I was a very young; I was always dragged along to random open house inspections and embarrassingly had to endure watching my Dad knock on walls to check the structure and look under benchtops to see how they are constructed (both of which I now do!). I didn’t collect stamps or coins – instead I collected laminate and paint swatch samples from each hardware store visit, and my first job at 14-years-old was at a hardware store.
I graduated from interior architecture in 2005 and have since worked in the industry in Melbourne, London and Sydney, prior to embarking on the Siren Design adventure.
Who/what/where inspires you?
I’m very inspired by travelling, but mostly by my family. I can clearly see which specific member of my family inspires the different aspects of the way I operate in my life, including my work life:
My Siren Design business partners are also huge inspirations and support for me, professionally and personally – Mia Feasey (founder, Sydney), Jeanne Chan (COO, Sydney) and Penny Sloane (MD, Singapore)
Creatively, our teams of talented designers across all of the studios continue to inspire me daily with their production of brave, innovative and boundary pushing ideas.
You are Siren’s Melbourne co-owner and director – responsible for mentoring, inspiring and growing the Melbourne team and business. What are the keys to success in a role like this?
I think that trust, openness and honest communication are key. Maintaining strong and meaningful relationships with not only the Sirens, but also with colleagues, clients, consultants, builders, project managers, suppliers and industry peers is also important.
Instilling a sense of confidence, being a constant source of available support, ensuring happiness and that a work-life balance is maintained are my key drivers, alongside the creation of successful, unique, human-centric and innovative projects.
Every creative puts a part of themselves into their work. Which of your projects has been the most important to you and why?
Every project is extremely important to me, it’s hard to single them out as it’s a huge honour to be chosen and trusted by our client’s to design their spaces and so much is learnt throughout the journey of each project.
As designers, we’re so passionate about what we do and at Siren we truly get to know our clients, their culture and aspirations, alongside the functional brief, so that we can create unique design stories that reflect who they are. We’re proud of the high impact design stories we realise and this approach enables us to create high impact design, regardless of budget, without a compromised design outcome. All projects are treated equally important to us in this respect, regardless of the size or the brand and having happy clients is what is important at the end of the day.
What is your favourite place or space in Australia and why?
I’ve visited MONA in Hobart multiple times and I absolutely love the whole experience of it. It challenges the conventional concept of a gallery with darkness, cheekiness, mysterious undertones, with stunning architecture and interiors where design meets nature.
What would you say has been your proudest moment, either career-wise or otherwise?
The first project enquiry that I received as I was just about to commence establishing the Melbourne studio was a 12,000 sqm workplace fitout. Being awarded this project was an extremely proud moment regarding the trust and confidence granted to me to successfully deliver the project.
What are you working on currently and what are your goals for the future?
We’re currently working across a range of projects including co-working, workplace, hospitality, retail, multi-residential, hotel, education and public spaces.
My goal for the future is to continue working with inspiring companies and disruptors, to keep on creating successful design, foster existing and new industry relationships and grow the Siren Design family.
We’d love to hear your inspirations and experience in the architecture and design community. Simply email email@example.com
Read last week’s Q&ADR with Studio Dot’s Steele Olney, here.