15 MINUTES OF FAME WITH OUR HEAD HONCHO JAMES GOODLET

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Can you please tell me about your career trajectory/background?

After coming up with an idea and a suitable name the business started on our dining table - an old recycled dunny door! The idea was to create sustainablity focused residential design. Fast forward 10 years - and we have a full established design studio in Seddon - Melbourne’s Inner West - supported by a team of 8 plus our office dog Cooper. It has been a long journey with a number of distractions along the way. I spent 9 years running and operating a growing business with only 2 staff members - finally I took the plunge and put a team around me that offer the support I need to allow me to focus on what I’m good at (designing stuff!) and propel us into our second decade.

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Back tracking a little I grew up in a family of builders with a passion for quality and workmanship. These traits have been passed on and form a part of our ethos - however, they have been adapted to the earlier stages of design and documentation. With an arts focused education I was always better with a pencil than a hammer!

Back to the present, I have had to self educate on how to run a business which has led our current situation; an enjoyable and creative work environment supported by like minded and energetic people. The biggest change in the business structure was when my wife joined the team. Some people would quiver at the thought of a married couple in business together, however I’m comforted by the fact that we are on this journey together. We are like Yin and Yan in a working environment, which thankfully results in balance. We both have an awareness of where our skills lie and support and respect each other in that way.

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How would you describe your aesthetic?

We follow some of the key principles of modernism and minimalism -  balanced by robust and natural material. You’ll notice that timber and concrete feature highly in our projects and have become a common theme. The natural and tactile nature of materials like timber and concrete balanced with an otherwise clean palate provide the framework for the personality of each client to shine through

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Where do you derive your inspiration?

There are two parts that we investigate thoroughly. Firstly, our clients: how do they live, what do they love, what do they hate, where do they enjoy spending their time when at home. We really take the time to get to know our clients and what makes them tick at the initial stages of their project.

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Secondly, the context: rural sites are quite obvious with the views and natural surroundings. Usually the objective here is to enhance the experience of the idyllic surrounds without competing with the view, instead blending in subtle finishes and timber elements. Urban sites are sometimes more limited, providing more of a challenge and require a more creative response - the answer is often to look within the building to create the hero feature. We are currently working on a long narrow skinny site in Seddon - the opportunity for this project presents in the form of an internal courtyard and herb garden to create the focal points. This setting helps bring the outside in and provides the illusion of space in an otherwise tight and potentially restrictive site.

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What are some of your favourite projects and why?

Cole St in Williamstown: this is an 1850s bluestone Terrace which had to be carefully and delicately  considered. A lush backyard with an established green wall that provided so much potential and challenges within its own right. Relocating some established trees and embracing so much of what the client had laboured to create over the years (the client was a landscape designer so the pressure was on!). Eventually resulting in a light filled pavilion, delicately connected to the bluestone terrace building and fully entrenched in the garden settling.

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Cashmore Dr: our client had a love affair with concrete growing up (her father was a concreter). The whole house was designed with an experimentation around concrete - epitomised by a concrete spine running through the guts of the building. This is a risky building material to use because its characteristics are so hard to control. However, the reward was worth it! An example of listening and working with the client to embrace their vision.

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Where do you hope your practice to be in 5 years?

Just like a good home; still standing, weathering the storms and, always full of laughter!

On a more serious note though; we would love to explore the opportunities that designing a passive house presents. As this ethos becomes more predominant in the marketplace and clients become more open and accepting of this concept, we would love to be at the forefront and look to continue to grow our sustainability principles and put them into practice.