Sonja Duric is the founding director of Artillery and the principal of interiors in GroupGSA+Artillery’s now-merged Melbourne Studio. Her 20 years of experience has focussed on interior design, concept design, project coordination, project initiation and focus group facilitation.
What sparked your interest in architecture, interiors & design?
I was drawing plans and hypothetically re-designing my family home since I was 10 years old maybe earlier. I think at that age, I realised the impact the built environment has on well-being, belonging and happiness.
You have been in the design industry for some time now; what changes have you seen in that time and which of those changes have affected you the most?
Co-working and activity based working (or agile working) are shaping Australian design. Australian design is commonly respected worldwide for being progressive. I experienced this sentiment when working in the UK. Over the last two decades I have seen a lot of change in the way space is moulded.
Fashion, architecture, furniture and interiors all take their cues from a wave that seems to influence new ideas across all creative disciplines. In the 90s there was a movement towards minimalism. This movement had light materials at its core. It was a little bit egotistical. The idea of ownership of space was common. Static working was common. Slowly the evolution of warm, inspiring and creative spaces started to occur.
Desk ownership, is now being switched with desk sharing. We are now designing spaces to represent this sharing economy (e.g. Uber, AirBnB are all based on sharing). There is fluidity when it comes to sharing, as we cycle through different states of thinking, collaborating etc, then our spaces represent this (whether they are in our workplace or homes).
This is influencing functionality. Atmospherically, we are seeing a connection with the natural environment in our designs (organic, biophilic, creative, socially responsible, not so egotistical).
What do you say we now do better than before and what, in your mind, was done better 20 years ago?
Evidence-based design. We are good at getting the information we need to inform the design through research (our own and other people’s research). We do this much better now than we did 20 years ago, and there were only a few people doing it 20 years ago, whereas now it is in almost everyone’s vocabulary.
I don’t know what we did better 20 years ago. I don’t think anything because you are always learning and building on what you have learnt. Maybe, personally I was more of a purist and now I relax a little more.
When it comes to sustainable design, what is the most sustainable thing you can add to any design?
There are many things that need to be adopted when designing, considering the built environment has such a large carbon footprint, impacts nature negatively, impacts our health and is responsible for so much waste.
The Green Building Council, LEED and the Well Building Rating all influence a better and more responsible way of designing. Adopting rating tools from these organizations is a good starting point. Influencing and inspiring our clients with responsible design is possibly the single most sustainable thing we can all do.
Being the New Year, what would be your main business-orientated New Year’s resolution?
Finish our research project because it will impact the workplace so stay tuned.