Architect Spotlight – Huw Turner

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Collins and Turner is a multidisciplinary architecture and design studio based in Sydney, founded in 2002 by Penny Collins and Huw Turner.

The work of the practice is driven by a strong focus on design, with a dynamic approach to innovation and construction of environments for living, working, learning and recreation.
The practice works across Australia and occasionally overseas on a broad spectrum of commercial, residential, and public projects, providing full architectural and interior design services, master planning, furniture, and product design.

Working directly with the project architects and project teams, Penny and Huw are actively involved in the design and supervision of each project, from inception, through detailed planning, construction, and handover. Working as a team ensures the best results for clients, through a careful and holistic quest for the optimal balance of originality, form and beauty.

Huw has taught at South Bank University in London, USYD, UTS and UNSW in Sydney and lectured in the UK, Sweden and Australia – including the AIA national conference in 2017.

How would you describe your design philosophy in three words?

Gesamtkunstwerk

Translation: a concept by Richard Wagner in which the totality of the work of art is the central focus; a synthesis and harmony of the arts to create the ideal work of art.

How do you see design improving our quality of life, and how we live, work, consume and connect?

At the beginning of the 21st century, industrial design has enabled huge and, until recently, unimaginable advances in technology to become a tangible reality, with the creation of now commonplace objects that have transformed many of our lives in a positive way… but not yet everybody’s.

As production costs reduce, access to the new technologies will increase exponentially, affecting the lives of billions, empowering the most disadvantaged people on Earth with the ability to communicate, get an education and live more healthily, taking them out of poverty.

Good design will need to form an essential part of the process that ensures that servicing their emerging needs can be achieved with the minimal impact on our natural resources and the environment.

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Barangaroo House. Photo by Felix Forest.

As society enters an unprecedented period of globalization, do you believe that Australian designers have a unique aesthetic or attitude?

Undoubtedly. The relationship between landscape, (multi) culture, and lifestyle gives Australians a unique sensibility. We are more free from the shackles of history than other first world countries, and have a creative energy. The multi-cultural mix makes for a vibrant, constantly evolving culture.

When I first visited Australia in 1994, I was inspired by the work of designers such as Danny Venlet, whose design language and syntax was at once fresh and thrilling and seemed to me to capture so much of what was great about modern Australia.

With 24/7 access to global design news and imagery, the challenge now is to not lose that uniqueness.

How do you see design shaping the world around us?

As the world transforms before our eyes, our biggest challenge is ensuring that our addiction to technology, and the results that can be achieved with it, can be effectively balanced, and allow us to spend more, not less, time on the more important things in life – our family, friends, and individual pursuits and interests, whilst ensuring that the wellbeing of others is maintained.

Good design will make the places that we spend our time in, and the objects that we interact with, more beautiful, engaging, and longer lasting; the journeys we take more efficient and less stressful, and the things we consume less wasteful – all with a reduced impact on the environment.

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Bombala Farmhouse. Photo by Ross Honeysett

For you, what is the most challenging part of the design process and what is the most rewarding?

For us, often the most challenging part of the design process is creating an efficient working process – allowing the team to run a project efficiently and cost effectively, with the minimum of abortive work and redesign. It is important to create a clear client brief to form the basis for a design. The design itself is the easy bit.

If you were give yourself an unrestricted creative brief, what this look like?

A project that allows us to conceive every component of the design from the public realm and individual buildings, down to fixtures, fittings, door handles, cutlery is what every designer dreams of – the project becoming a ‘total art work’ (or Gesamtkunstwerk) which also happens to be my answer to your first question.

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The Karkov Project. Photo by Richard Glover Photography.

At Brickworks, we are devotees to good design, what do you look for in good design?

Simplicity, elegance, function, longevity, creativity and perhaps a clever twist.

And finally, who are your design heroes?

Too many to mention … but the long list would currently include:

Ken Adam, Syd Mead, Donald Judd, Ron Herron, Shiro Kuramata, Hussein Chalayan, Norman Foster, Carl Pickering and of course my partner Penny Collins!

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Waterloo Youth Centre.

Article by brickworksbp

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