DIA Member Profiles

From time to time we’ll be profiling selected DIA Members to give you a quick snapshot into their thoughts, lives and design practices. You can also follow them on the DIA Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

  • Santoso Budiman
    Principal, SWG Studio

    If you were a room in your house what would it be?
    A kitchen. I like cooking and eating. I think these days when you design a two- bedroom apartment you only get just a linear kitchen. You get the cooktop and a dishwasher or sink, a little bit of pantry and the fridge and you don’t get other storage or oven bench or anything like that. So this is kind of a luxury kitchen. It has a social entertaining purpose as well. It is open layout for entertaining and I like watching the news in the morning.

    If you had to describe your workspace as a celebrity, who would it be?
    I don’t really follow any celebrity. For some reason, since I left my previous office, it seems like most of the projects that I did related to heritage, period properties. I really like doing the restoration and refurbishment of original existing buildings which have a lot of details compared to contemporary architecture these days. And I like to make all those details disappear, using monochromatic colours, so I paint it all white. The details are still there, just not so obvious. And I like to mix with contemporary bits and pieces. Like contemporary furniture or the kitchen being very clean and minimalist design. I like John Pawson. He’s a British architect. He does a lot of work as well with old buildings, but his work is very minimalist, very contemporary. It’s mainly functional. For example, a dining room, he will have mainly a dining table and benches or chairs and that’s it. So very, very, clean. These days a lot of clients mainly think about the functional point of view rather than aesthetics.

    How did your career start?
    I studied architecture a long time ago and I love drawing, but I never thought that I wanted to be an architect. Originally, I wanted to be a pilot. But my mum said ‘No, you can’t be a pilot. I want you to be an architect like your uncle. You will go to architecture school, then you can design and build me a house.’

    So I picked up the form, did the exam. Never thought that I would get into architecture school, but I did, and I enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun when I was studying and have never regretted studying architecture. Since then I kind of love design, doesn’t have to be architecture. I love furniture. I love interior. I love objects. I love art. I guess it started with architecture and it has just grown. I really enjoy design. I even started doing some artwork, paintings. Never studied art before, didn’t know how to paint, but gave it a go, and I had my first exhibition back in 2008 at a gallery in Richmond. The gallery sold one of my works and I found out a couple of years later from a friend that the painting is in the SJB office. I still like painting every now and then as it provides some therapeutic and relaxing time. When I’m painting it’s like I’m in my own cocoon and space and I don’t really hear the outside noise. It’s a very nice feeling to complete an artwork. I still enter group exhibitions now and then.

    What’s in your future? What’s next?
    I would like to have more commercial projects, and multiple residential, not necessarily apartments like high-rises, sort of more small to medium density townhouses. And also I would like to get into more retail, hospitality, designing cafes and things like that. It would be ideal to separate my studio from home. That is my dream goal. And in terms of studio size, probably less than ten people. I don’t really want to have a big studio to run. I still want to be the one that oversees all the design.

    How do you split your time working and living in one space?
    It’s very difficult. The computer is there. It’s kind of itchy, not touching it on the weekend or after 6pm. I’ve had to make a template I suppose. Basically it’s like I’m going to the office. That corner is basically my office. So If I go over there, I’m in the office and if I leave that corner I’m out of the office. I try not to check my emails on the weekend. I love watching Friends, so by 6 o’clock I have to stop. By 9am I will be ready and at work. I’ve been doing it for nine years now so I have my routine.

    What’s your favourite colour and why?
    Apparently white is not a colour. I like yellow. It’s a very bright and cheerful colour. But if it’s something to do with architecture, I like white. Yellow has its time and place, not everywhere, but in small amounts. There’s a beauty to white, it makes everything look so pure.

    *This interview has been edited for continuity and consistency.


  • Miriam Fanning
    Principal, Mim Design

    If you were a room in your house what would it be?
    I think probably the bathroom. I think bathrooms activate your mind and body every single morning and they prepare you for a state of mind that you’re going to be in. They are really active in triggering an emotion. Likewise if you have a shower at the end of the day it’s a really lovely way to wind down, so being in a bathroom not only makes you enjoy the space but creates another emotion.

    If you had to describe your workspace as a celebrity, who would it be?
    Cate Blanchett, because we wanted to have a work place that looked and felt effortless, although there was a lot of attention to detail in the way it was crafted. We thought a lot about how we wanted it to feel without looking overdone, and I think Cate Blanchett always makes it look so effortless in what she does.

    How did your career start?
    My career started after university; obviously I studied interior design. I thought well, if I want to enjoy the career I’m about to start and embark on, I really want to work somewhere that inspires me. So I did a lot of homework and targeted a particular firm and rang them nearly every two weeks for about three months until I’m pretty sure that the gentleman that was employing got sick of me and offered me a position. I started working as a graduate and went to an associate director level before I left, and I was lucky enough to be mentored by some of the most creative minds when it comes to retail planning in Australia. A year after having my first child I started Mim Design: I named the business after my own name because it was just me. I never had any intention of being anything more than a consultant at that stage, but had two years’ worth of contracts within the first two weeks. At the same time I also had a pram in the office with me a fair amount of the time. It is really hard work to be a mum and a business owner concurrently. You’ve got to make sure you enjoy the good times and the right times properly. Mim Design will be twenty in 2020 and our firm has grown from retail to multi-residential, hospitality, hotel, residential, high-end residential, events; you name it, we’ve done it, except for government work. I think being quite a diversified practice keeps you inspired. The day I stop being inspired will be the day I stop doing it. Today we have twenty-five staff and we also have some architectural staff on board, so it’s really exciting times for us at the moment.

    What’s in your future? What’s next?
    The next step is probably to focus on enjoyment. At the early phrase in your career your life is your job but as you run further through your career it’s the people you meet and how you work with them and what they mean to you and the friendships you gain out of them as well. I’ve started doing more furniture design: I’ve got a nice sketchbook full of things that I’ve been drawing over the last two years or so. I’m working with a number of people locally to do some of those pieces. We’re also doing projects like ski chalets and beautiful beach houses and some other really beautiful projects. Lots in the pipeline.

    What’s your favourite colour and why?
    My favourite colour is electric blue, it always has been. All of my staff laugh at me because it’s been one of my favourite colours for such a long time. They go ‘Oh it’s a Mim blue’ and it’s so funny, but it is definitely a colour that I am visually excited by and drawn to.

    Why are you a member of the DIA?
    I am a DIA member because I want to be. I think it is important that there is a body that defines what we do and bridges the gap between different types of practitioners within the design industry. Another reason is because I’m serious about design, and if you work solely on your own I think it is important to get out of your bubble a little bit and talk to other people. It’s great to be able to have people in your industry who become your friends and who you can just talk to and run ideas by or ask questions of. I think it’s really important.

    *This interview has been edited for continuity and consistency.


  • Hanna Richardson and Katherine Kemp
    Principals, ZWEI Interiors Architecture

    If you were a room in your house what would it be?
    H: We’ve got a second living room, sort of like a hang-out family room in the front, which faces the street and has an opening to the terrace and the front. It’s almost like a retreat room. It has lots of functions. It’s got a stereo in it. It’s got a fireplace in it. It’s got a day bed in it. It covers the family and the individual.
    K: I think I would actually say my back garden. We’ve designed these doors that are almost like windows so you can pull them back and you don’t see them. So the inside can close to the outside and that is the whole intention. It becomes your sort of second room.

    If you had to describe your workspace as a celebrity, who would it be?
    H: Maybe Queen Silvia of Sweden, who’s now older. She has an inner beauty and her dress code was just simple, elegant, timeless and gorgeous. You look at her and you just go ‘wow’.
    K: I would have to say someone like Michelle Williams, the actress. She’s incredibly beautiful but she acts, she really engages and she goes for these really tough roles while in her personal life she’s raising a daughter by herself. She’s not just some young beautiful thing. She’s a real person. I think that’s cool. I like her.

    How did ZWEI begin?
    K: Well the name means ‘two’ in German. Hanna and I started working together in a studio and it was quite organic in the way it grew. We just had an agenda to work together and make it fit our lives. Hanna was already a mum and I’ve had two children since as well, so it was more about still being able to practice and follow a really exciting career and yet have a family and not sell our souls to have both. We wanted both.
    H: We never had a business plan, we just always had projects and loved what we did.
    K: We like to make something that fits the brief and create a fully resolved design that answers all of the client’s needs but actually takes it to a higher level as well where they are amazed. We just did a presentation this morning and they went: ‘I love it. There’s no changes. I love it.’
    H: The way we set ourselves apart is that we actually create a story, like something tangible behind it, so it’s not just the connection of pretty finishes.
    K: It’s about creating spaces with meaning that have soul and resonance. So often you can’t capture that in photos, but you walk into a space and go ‘This feels great’ and I think that sort of magic you just can’t bottle.

    What’s in your future? What’s next?
    K: I think we really love hospitality, it’s a core sector that we love designing in and creating food spaces; it kind of ticks off every box for us. It’s a space that’s completely welcoming, that anyone can come and engage with and the food, the coffee and the buzz is really great.
    H: And maybe some larger scale projects because it is easier to have a few bigger projects than a lot of small ones. But having said that, we just did a really tiny project called Little Bang Expresso up at RMIT. It was just 17 square metres and a real challenge but we solved the space problem by using a pivoting counter and cabinets that all lock together.
    K: The whole space unpacks and it forms this long counter line with a door that opens and forms a backdrop. There are three people behind the coffee machine selling 750 cups of coffee a day and it all packs up at the end of each day.

    What’s your favourite Pantone colour and why?
    H: I love an in-between red and pink. That’s probably my favourite colour: almost into the salmon and not complete red but with a slight pink; quite bold.
    K: I’m into yellow at the moment. I love yellow. It’s happy. It’s just got something. But I don’t think we stick to particular colours, it depends what comes out of the brief and what the story is. It’s not just about the brightness of the colour it’s actually about the tone and creating the atmosphere.

    Why are you a member of the DIA?
    K: Because we believe in supporting our industry. It is really important. It brings you all together and connects you. It says you met a standard, you are part of a professional body and you are a professional. It looks really good to the outside world. People look at it.
    H: I’ve been a member since 2004 I think, so it’s a very long time. If you say you’re a member of the Design Institute it gives you credibility. And you’ve got the legal back up, it’s just the standard. It’s the benefit of being part of an organisation.

    *This interview has been edited for continuity and consistency.


  • Carole Whiting
    Director, Carole Whiting Interiors and Design, Melbourne

    If you were a room in your house what would it be?
    I reckon I would be the living room. The informal living room. No, I would be the formal living room because I’m a bit neat and I don’t like mess.

    If you had to describe your workspace as a celebrity, who would it be?
    It has to be a woman because our workplace is quite feminine. Someone who’s classic. More likely to be someone who is English. I think Emma Thompson is amazing. She’s a really strong woman who’s of a certain age, not frightened to show her age and just brilliant. She speaks really elegantly about things when she’s asked. You know she’s intelligent.

    How did your career start?
    I reckon it started when I was ten and my parents took me to Myers and let me buy anything I wanted for my bedroom furniture and I bought all this red plastic and red tubular. It was ghastly, but that is the moment when my interest was piqued in interior design. Then fast forward many, many years. My first apartment I ever did up was in a magazine so it was meant to be. Then I married an architect and learnt business from the inside and then I started my own. So in a way, I’ve thought about this quite a lot, it’s almost like that seed was sown very early and I’ve just had to find my way to it. It was sort of in my genes and I just had to find the long way around.

    What’s in your future? What’s next?
    Well we haven’t even quite clocked up two years yet on our own. I left my other business in June 2016. The last two years have just been getting established and finding our feet and getting our systems and processes in place and we haven’t ever stopped for a moment to think about what’s next. But I think we’re almost at that point where we kind of can, where we are settling in now and we are actually able to take a breath and look forward and start making short and long term goals. So that’s actually right on my to-do list, to set some goals, because I think until now it’s just been this crazy, mad kind of rush to get things done and keep our head above water. Now we are in a really, really good place to do that. We are not quite newbies and we’ve got a big blank canvas in front of us that can go whichever way we like. I think I would still stick with residential work because I love that. That high-end residential is so nice. It’s good engaging with the clients. They are always lovely people. I don’t know what our goals are yet. I don’t want to get too big because it’s a really nice environment here. If I had to pick something that I definitely know about the future it’s about selecting jobs rather than taking everything that comes in the door. I would really like to be able to say no and take a few jobs on a year and that’s it. Just the good ones. The ones that are going to give us some satisfaction and come out well, a good and enjoyable process.

    What’s your favourite Pantone colour and why?
    I don’t work a lot with colour. White is my favourite colour. I’m not totally adverse to colour, but it doesn’t drive me. What drives me is really serene, calm spaces and I think white does that better than anything else. White is my colour. We don’t always do everything in white, but it is pretty dominant in our work. My formal lounge room would be white.


  • Adele Winteridge
    Director, Foolscap Studio, Melbourne and Sydney

    If you were a room in your house what would you be?
    Well, I would actually be my garden. The idea around ‘garden rooms’ is that they are outdoor rooms that connect to your bedroom essentially and we actually have one of those in our house. All of the elements were made up of garden, like garden beds and seats and things like that. Such a beautiful idea. I have just recently renovated my garden and it’s a very slow but rewarding process – a work in progress. Being an interior architect it was quite difficult for me, but it’s very rewarding to work with different plants rather than furnishings or materials. So I think if I were a room in my house I would be a garden room, it’s just such a beautiful kind of space to be, it’s very tranquil and peaceful and connected to nature.

    If you had to describe your workspace as a celebrity, who would it be?
    David Bowie is our celebrity.
    - constantly innovating himself and pop culture
    - left of field but very well known
    - cross-disciplinary (singer/actor/fashion)

    How did your career start?
    I was working in Sydney for a company called Future Space who do more corporate fit outs, like Google, and I was also lecturing at the Whitehouse Institute of Design in the Interior department and I was also running this night called Beers and Ideas. Met some really amazing people through that process and through that started lobbying for the liquor licencing laws to change in Sydney and that consequently has changed the cultural landscape of Sydney since the liquor licensing laws have been passed. Since then smaller more interesting hospitality has happened. Through that process I met a whole bunch of amazing hospitality people and got talking to them. I worked on a small bar in Sydney, meanwhile I had moved to Melbourne and I was doing business development here with Whitehouse Institute of Design and then I got so busy doing these small bars and hospitality projects that I decided to start Foolscap Design. So I started Foolscap in Melbourne but was working in Sydney, so all of our first projects are in Sydney and we are still very connected to Sydney and slowly but surely just built it up from ground up. So I started with just myself and now we are 15 people in both Melbourne and Sydney and we are just coming up to ten years. It’s been a slow and steady amazing learning curve and now we do workplace design, a lot of work with developers, bigger precincts scale work and hotels. Hospitality related projects at the core but bigger. We talk very much about this idea of social spaces entering our work and they could be in all different genres of interiors. We are multi-disciplinary so we have architects and graphic designers and interior designers so we approach things in that way. I think the design process is the same whether you’re designing a tiny industrial-designed object, a piece of furniture, a light or large-scale precincts. We’ve been working very much on our process and how we approach a project. That’s Foolscap.

    What’s in your future? What’s next?
    I have been saying for a very long time that we would love to start a furniture brand, so that is on the cards. And I guess we would love to be working on more international projects as well. I think that a lot of the design industry across the globe is looking to Australia at the moment. I think likewise the world is kind of compressing with all this new technology so I think we have the ability to do projects internationally and go for those clients that we haven’t worked with before. So I think that’s where we want to expand into. And build up our Sydney studio a bit more. Oh and also a big one on our list this year is that we are moving studios, to Collingwood.

    What’s your favourite Pantone colour?
    I really love deep navy blues, like an almost black blue (296U). And then green: I love a golden olivey green (133U).