Commercial offices and residential extension projects are the focus of interior design practice ‘Inspired Spaces’. Founder Robyn Hawke delights in maximising every centimetre of a floor plan.
Robyn left her long term career as a high school teacher to study interior design and has never looked back. As the founder of Inspired Spaces, a thriving design practice in the Hills district, Robyn is proof that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Robyn, what do you love about your work?
Putting a constant smile on a client’s face and affecting positive change.
What sort of projects do you work on?
We aim for a 50/50 split in residential and commercial work. I really love residential projects for the close ties I build with clients and I love to balance this with commercial projects which have a different focus.
How do you approach commercial projects?
Our philosophy is we create physical branding. My goal at the moment is to help businesses see that investing in the physical environment is a return on investment, not just a cost.
How can a designer quantify their value on a commercial project?
The impact of really good design can be difficult to quantify but we have seen indicators in a company’s productivity which tell us we got it right. We recently worked with a small business to redesign their offices. We thought we had allowed for 3-5 years’ growth but they outgrew the space in 18 months because productivity increased when the working environment was right. Indicators like staff morale, turnover and sick days were all improved beyond expectations. Now, people are happy and laughing at the office and there is low turnover. That is huge job satisfaction for us!
What are the considerations on a commercial project?
We carefully consider a company’s brand image and bring that into the physical space. It doesn’t stop at a logo or letterhead. Successful design helps to build culture and branding. We consider what’s the mission statement and what are the values. We look at the company structure and how that translates to the physical office layout. Who will visit the space, who is the company’s target market, how many people will be in the reception area at a time and so forth. We work closely with technology consultants, joiners and strata for the infrastructure on the build.
How do you create inspiring work places?
People want to come to work when they feel inspired, happy and comfortable in the office environment. We do things like colour match furniture to the branding, commission artworks, create breakout areas with comfy seats, build fully functional kitchens, install real plants. These things help people want to be at the office and be happy there and subsequently builds cohesion, rapport and friendships amongst colleagues. These are important considerations for building culture and brand image as well as increasing productivity.
…and residential projects?
I love working with clients on residential projects. It’s quite an intimate process as the practicalities of daily life need to be delved into. You end up friends and it’s almost like you break up when you finish the project! I will never stop working on residential projects despite my passion for commercial spaces.
What is your top tip for running a small interior design practice?
Making sure systems and processes are in place is very important. Since qualifying, I’ve learned so many things on the job and have found it invaluable to document processes and procedures to make sure all the boxes are ticked throughout a project. It starts with onboarding new clients and continues through all the technical and regulatory requirements of a build.
Tell us about Designer Chicks
I started the Designer Chicks in 2011 with Lucia from More Than Curtains as a learning, networking and support group for female designers. We meet monthly and have a topic for each meeting, often with an external presenter. The group includes interior designers, photographers, artists, landscape designers and architects, feng shui specialists, property stylists, decorators and colour specialists. It’s a group for both business and friendship. It’s also about giving back to the community through our association with Inala, an organisation supporting people with disabilities.
What do you think about replica furniture?
Replicas devalue the integrity of the design. I understand from a client’s perspective on a budget that it’s tempting, but we always encourage clients away from replicas. When you know the piece is a replica, you don’t value it in the same way. Replica would always be our last resort because clients bring us in to find a unique solution, not to have something run of the mill.
What’s your favourite piece currently on Two Design Lovers and why?
The anthracite B&B Italia Arne sofa! Who does not love a comfy lounge to sit down into to read a good book in? I love this slightly curved unit which allows for ease of discussion and the beautiful curved back which is ideal in an open plan room, the back itself is almost sculpture-like.
Images have been printed with the permission of Inspired Spaces.