Melbourne based design studio, Techné Architecture and Interior Design, gives us an insight into working with iconic brands and how they inject their unique passion and creativity in to each of their projects.
While most of us would agree that taking on a project for an international brand like Porsche or an iconic space such as the renowned St Kilda “Espy” Esplanade Hotel would fill us with an element of apprehension, the team at Techné Architecture and Interior Design bucks this trend, relishing these opportunities. This inventive team of architects and designers see it as a way to define and create cohesive and memorable spaces for their diverse range of clients. Beyond designing from the ground up, Techné has the ability to enhance historical spaces by transforming and unifying them, making these spaces reflective of their time but with an enduring legacy for the future – a rare talent and one that this studio seems to have honed to a fine art.
“It is our challenge to create thoughtful, sustainable spaces that will stand the test of time.”
Justin Northrop, Director.
Techné Architecture and Interior Design‘s latest project, the redesign of Italian emporium Brunetti in inner-city Melbourne, is a perfect example of their design ethos. This impressive venue, spanning almost 850 square metres, offers a multitude of dining spaces and is being hailed as a new benchmark for the hospitality industry in Australia.
The design for the space needed to honour Brunetti‘s tradition and heritage, while also celebrating this new chapter. This concept was achieved by preserving elements from the past and connecting them to today, incorporating Italian design influences while providing a theatrical hospitality experience.
The new emporium features a range of bars and dining areas, including an all-weather alfresco coffee area and onsite coffee roasting. Overhead, a suspended giant wood-fired oven serves freshly made pizza. To top it all off, a heritage bank vault in the basement has been converted into a private bar and dining area.
“Brunetti is an iconic institution and is quintessentially Italian. Its new Flinders Lane space presented an exciting opportunity to pay homage to some of the great hallmarks of Italian design.”
No stranger to creating iconic hospitality destinations, Techné Architecture and Design is responsible for a number of award winning and high-profile hospitality projects, including Garden State Hotel, Lee Ho Fook, Movida and Tonka. The Techné team is equally adept when designing commercial spaces and residential projects, so much so it has been appointed as national architect for Porsche Cars Australia.
The studio was founded in 2002 by Nicholas Travers and Justin Northrop, after the duo came together in 2001, creating well known Melbourne wine bar and restaurant The Deanery. They decided to form Techné Architecture and Design together the following year. Aligned in vision, Justin and Nick bring a unique range of skills beyond their shared training as architects, with Justin focusing on project creativity and Nick on business development, marketing and PR.
Justin is a visionary whose approach to architecture and design is sensitive to balance and cohesion. His honest expression of ideas, materiality and construction, coupled with his fierce attention to detail, drives him to create authentic outcomes for their clients.
His philosophy is: “that every space should be well designed, fit for purpose, and enjoyed by the people who inhabit it.”
In his role as Techné director, Nick thrives on challenges because he knows the best designs come from collaboration and expansion of ideas. His unwavering commitment to his craft sees him push his team to strive for innovative solutions on each and every project. Nick is enthralled with the disruptive nature of technology and how it can be used to enhance a traditional approach to design. Nick is organised and creatively disciplined in his approach. He can often be found free-hand sketching ideas for projects – something technology cannot replace.
Recently Techné appointed a third director, Steve McKeag, who initially joined the studio in 2007 as a senior architect. Steve will work within the practice on a broad range of projects as well as maintaining a strong focus on people and culture.
“We understood Steve’s skills as an architect and more importantly as a leader. Steve has a deep interest and appreciation for the practice as a whole. He utilises his skills and influences to make it a better place for our clients, our unique and creative production and our team members to be in. Steve also has a special interest in the development of our people and culture which is important for any practice, but especially so when a practice is growing, becoming more complex and the ambition is to maintain high design and technical delivery standards within a cohesive and enjoyable workplace.”
The trio’s approach, mentoring and cultivating a growth culture within the business, is something they are particularly passionate about.
“We believe that emerging talent needs to be supported and mentored. Whilst universities have an important role, industry placement during studies as well as effective mentoring within the office in the early years of work is critical to establish a solid base in delivering architectural services in a demanding and highly competitive world.” From the team culture, this ongoing support is something Techné strongly implements within its own practice.
Inhabiting a new office space by Carton Gardens sees the Techné team flourishing more than ever: “We have an amazing new work environment which makes coming to work more enjoyable and effective in our endeavours to foster a studio culture of deep collaboration. We now have a dedicated workshop to enable more model making, prototyping and other special projects that engage our team in the act of making things, something we all enjoy, rather than embedding ourselves in drawings and the digital world.”
This hands-on approach begins in initial stages of the design and is carried on throughout the project, utilising the talents of specialised makers and craftsmen to create unique experiences within their spaces.
“There is so much more thought and consideration put into a project by both the designer and maker-builder. Craftsmanship also imbues ideas of bespoke actions on our projects and we appreciate the opportunities to make unique spaces and places for our clients, stakeholders and built environment users.”
“These days crafts aren’t limited to traditional methods of production, these now extend to high level skills coupled with technologies. Seeing these methods used from the creation of an idea to reality is very exciting to us.”
The studio prides itself on a collective approach to design. “Foremost, we place human activities at the centre of our design considerations. We try to explore different ideas with each project so that our work is not defined by a house style or, more importantly, the ego of Techné doesn’t overshadow the client’s ambitions and project needs. We craft uniqueness in each project and leave minimal fingerprints.”
The combination of their skills, vision and commitment to creating sustainable and enduring spaces, ensures we will continue to see great things from Techné Architecture and Interior Design.
“For us there is nothing better than creating a vision and executing a design that lasts the test of time physically and culturally.”