Design Journey: Meet Me at Mitchell Street

Pick up some tips for your own project as we go on site with architect Feras and homeowner Damien for the first instalment of their unique design journey with Rogerseller, as they navigate a striking renovation to a heritage home in Melbourne’s inner north.

The working relationship between client and architect is well known to be a source of either great joy or intense conflict (or both!) under the strain of a complex build.

Luckily for Feras Raffoul, Director at FGR Architects, and homeowner client Damien, who had known each other since high school, their longstanding friendship allowed for a direct exchange of ideas on the renovation of Mitchell Street house.

“It was fortunate that he knew a lot about me and was able to reflect my needs,” says Damien. “I felt that I didn't really have to go into too much detail with the brief.”

“He’s one of my closest mates,” says Feras. “So there was a bit of pressure. I felt I needed to be quite confident about what he liked and what he needed.”

But if you don’t have an architect in your circle, how do you find the one for you? And what are the best ways to maintain a positive interaction throughout the design process?

"The first step in any project is to visualise its outcome – understanding what you want will make it easier to identify the ideal architect to execute it."

Do Your Research

The first step in any project is to visualise its outcome – understanding what you want will make it easier to identify the ideal architect to execute it. Are you seeing a grand-scale remodel when a simple refurbishment will do? And what type of space will it be: geometric and modern, or organic and warm?

Established architects will have previous work to refer to, which will give you a good feel for their aesthetic. Ask to see some examples, or hit their social channels for an indication of both the output and personality of the practice.

“Funnily enough, I wasn't quite aware of how good [Feras’] work was, even though we’d been friends for such a long time. Not until I'd seen some of his projects just prior to purchasing our property” says Damien. “Once I saw what he was capable of, I couldn't really think of anyone else that I'd rather have designing my house.”

"Established architects will have previous work to refer to, which will give you a good feel for their aesthetic."

Trust Their Eye

Now that you’ve commissioned an architect, be open minded about their suggestions. As long as they respect the scope of the project, allow them the creative freedom to interpret your brief with the kind of flair that caught your eye in the first place. And contrary to popular belief, an architect is best-placed to extract maximum design value for your dollar.

At Mitchell Street, Damien required a modern extension to the rear of his existing Edwardian home. Client and architect worked closely together on costing for the total transformation, in order to allocate realistic spending for the new build’s main elements. But from the outset, one significant point of difference between client and architect was their contrasting views on material application.

“My friend might have been influenced by TV where they chop and change textures, and bring in a variety of different materials - whereas my style of work is more simplified,” says Feras. “I like to use singular tones.”

“Feras said to me, ‘Let's just keep it minimal’ …and so I took that philosophy into the meetings with Rogerseller,” Damien says. “Their consultant, Daniel, was able to help me through my selection. Again, the budget was very important, and we were able to stick to that quite well.”

"An architect is best-placed to extract maximum design value for your dollar. "

Spend Time With The Experts

While your architect will have done the legwork for you by providing the framework and overall design, when your project gets down to specifics, take the opportunity to hit the pavement yourself.

Drawing from initial conversations, sketches and design references from both client and architect, we are able to provide you with a range of tailored solutions to suit any project.

“What we can do is conceptualize the work into a package on behalf of the architect,” says Daniel Robertshaw, design consultant on the Mitchell Street project, and National Development Collaborator at Rogerseller.