Lindy Johnson, director at Lindy Johnson, specialises in business development, PR and marketing for Australian architects and designers. She has 30 years of experience working at senior levels of government and industry, and conceived and branded programs like HEAT Architecture, a program for architects and designers.
Architecture & Design spoke to her about training as a visual artist, working on the board of the University of Queensland’s school of architecture and how architecture in the sunshine state differs from the rest of Australia.
You previously trained as a visual artist. How has that background helped you in the architectural industry?
My training as a visual artist taught me about the power of the creative process. This process underpins everything I do, including how I work with architecture and design firms. Exploring different approaches is essential in business development and communication, where fresh ideas can make the difference between identifying potential opportunities and engaging well with clients or being overshadowed by your competitors.
I’m also very interested in how architects apply the creative process and design both conceptually and formally. From a formal point of view, I read architecture similar to an artwork. For example, I especially appreciate good composition — how all the elements of the architecture come together and make specific responses to site, context and culture.
You are a member of the University of Queensland’s School of Architecture Advisory Board. How did you come to be a member?
I was invited by the new head of school professor Sandra Kaji-O’Grady. The University of Queensland School of Architecture is a very impressive school with a strong legacy – it has trained some of the best architects in the country. Both the lecturing staff and students are actively involved in shaping the future of the industry. The Hot Modernism exhibition, which tells the story of Queensland’s mid-century architecture, is a fantastic example of just one of the many exciting projects coming out of the school.
What changes have there been at the School of Architecture since you’ve been an advisory board member?
Professor Kaji-O’Grady has only recently joined the school, so the changes are just beginning. However, I’m really impressed by the clarity of her vision for the school’s future. I feel very optimistic about her focus on strong engagement with the industry and wider community.
One of the roles of the advisory board is to act as advocates of the school within the wider community. This is a role I relish because I believe passionately in the value of the school and the powerful and positive impact architecture and design has on all our lives.
How does Queensland’s architecture compare to the rest of Australia’s?
Queensland’s architecture is very strong and Queensland architects are typically very good at understanding site and context. In general, they have had a history of working with smaller budgets than their southern counterparts. As a consequence, they’ve become conceptually and technically very resourceful and resilient, as well as very innovative and open to new ideas. Queensland architects work in a tropical/subtropical climate zone, so their responses are particular to this region.
There is also a particular materiality that has evolved over time from the local availability of certain materials. These materials have often been of a lighter weight, distinct from a strong tradition of heavy masonry of their southern peers.
What would be your dream job?
The one I’m doing at the moment! It’s a real pleasure and privilege to represent and work with some of Australia’s best architectural and design practices. I really enjoy helping them strengthen their businesses, increase their value and achieve the success they deserve.