Gavin Harris of Futurespace | Designer Rugs & The Local ProjectAustralia
Designer Gavin Harris, Design Director at architecture and interior design practice Futurespace, is known for his creative use of colour and for designing spaces that are different, exciting and unexpected. Yet his work remains distinctly grounded and personal, especially for such a bold and creative designer, creating spaces that are a rare combination of the playful and the functional.
Architecture and interior design may seem like broad enough fields to cover, but Gavin’s design eye extents to product and industrial design as well. He has been creating custom-designed rugs, in collaboration with Designer Rugs, for his projects over many years – a working relationship culminating in the collection ‘Mindscape‘.
As Design Director at Futurespace, Gavin’s role entails balancing the technical construction imperatives, the functional purpose of a space and the creative and inspiring design for which Futurespace is known. Working with some of the world’s largest organisations across the corporate, educational and hospitality sectors, Futurespace design the living, working and learning spaces of the future. In the corporate world, this has meant responding to the shift in practice toward flexible, agile and collaborative work, both within organisations and between the organisations and their clients. For Gavin, the exciting challenge is creating environments in which innovation can thrive – spaces that are no longer regimented and predetermined as boardrooms or office cubicles, but that are never the less practical and responsive to a wide variety of uses.
This has a resulted in offices and corporate spaces that are truly open plan, heightening the importance of rugs and furnishings to create zones. As human beings, huge expanses of space are not naturally comfortable, nor are they practical unless they create smaller, appropriately-sized areas within the larger environment. ‘I always start with the facts and figures, and the solutions we need to achieve, then I overlay this with consideration of how people will use the space’, Gavin explains, ‘I draw on my own reactions, asking myself ‘How do I feel in the space? What is the journey through the space?’ – and from there a look and feel begin to emerge.’
Futurespace worked on the complete re-invention of the PwC Melbourne and Sydney Client Experience Floors, responding to the rapid pace of change in how business is done. In a world where barriers between consumer and business, client and service provider, are decreasing and an ever-growing number of start-ups are disrupting the status-quo, PwC and Futurespace recognised that the working environment needed to change too. The new interiors speak to this fast-paced agile working atmosphere, creating inspiring, energising spaces, that are also deliberately imbued with calming, grounding elements. Soft furnishings, bold yet simple colours, welcoming lighting and subtly defined zones make them inviting places, conducive to connection, learning and change.
Rugs were key to grounding these spaces, and Gavin custom designed rugs as well as using rugs from his collection ‘Mindscape’. He says ‘I wanted these PwC rugs to reflect a hospitality feel – high quality, with different forms to reflect how PwC was working in the space. The new way of working with their clients has links to hospitality, retail and emphasises collaboration.’ The PwC Sydney interior uses rugs with rich plum, burgundy and pink tones contrasted with calming grey and cream. The largeness of the space is countered by the use of shape – all rugs are circular with soft rounded forms and a large circular rug mirroring the striking overhead architectural feature. As Gavin explains, the emphasis on circles is about ‘showing togetherness and cohesion. The patterns are repeated, simplified and at different scales, reflecting the different, relaxed way we feel when working in these spaces’.
Gavin is interested in bringing an architectural quality to rugs, and he pursued this interest further in several designs in his Designer Rugs collection. ‘Molecule’, a striking hexagonal-shaped rug from the ‘Mindscape’ collection was used in a custom colour and size in PwC Melbourne, a series of bright, invigorating orange hexagons joined by darker shadow lines. By varying the pile height to create these shadow lines, the rug subtly gains a third dimension and recalls the lines of both architecture and joinery. Drawing on his experience as an architect during the process of designing the rugs, Gavin used wood cut-outs to experiment with shapes and angles. ‘I’ve always been interested in shape and form’ he says, and the wooden models provided a vehicle for experimentation to see what was possible.
The PwC Melbourne interior also features another rug from the ‘Mindscape’ collection, ‘Solar’. With two deep red circles almost appearing to be in orbit on the oval perimeter of the rug, actually sticking out from the sides, the design is another of Gavin’s challenges to the traditional assumption that rugs must be regularly shaped. Both ‘Molecule’ and ‘Solar’ turn this idea upside down and expose the world of possibility that is opened when these constraints of shape are thrown away. Yet despite being challenging and thought-provoking rugs, seen in the context of the PwC interior they are entirely natural. Working in harmony with the furniture and the room, the rugs truly provide, as Gavin puts it, ‘a base without walls’ in a way that a more standard shaped rug would not. Typical of Gavin’s style, these rugs are unexpected, colourful and bold, yet clearly designed with functionality and the people who will use the space in mind.
Futurespace also designed the interior for Savills, one of the world’s largest real estate firms, in Sydney, where custom designed rugs again feature prominently. As an organisation so intimately connected with property, and some of Sydney’s most iconic buildings, the space is vital demonstrating Savills’ leadership in their field. The rugs help to celebrate the spaces, and to define different areas within the large open-plan office. Gavin worked closely with Designer Rugs to transform his designs into rugs befitting the high-quality of the interior.
Speaking of his design process, Gavin says ‘First, I think of a story or connection to the client that can be told or reflected. In the case of Savills, who have such a strong connection to Sydney’s buildings – they were involved in the opera house for example – the rugs celebrate this, taking forms from the opera house and the bridge. Then, there is lots of free thinking sketching and finally a more refined hand drawing, linked to colours and scale of space. I then work with Designer Rugs for colour selection, the style of cuts and pile heights’.
Whether it is designing rugs that capture the essence of the company’s story or creating multi-use spaces that foster innovation, collaboration and engagement, Gavin’s characteristic flair for the creative and unexpected is ever present. Traversing architecture, interiors, product and industrial design, Gavin’s work with Futurespace and Designer Rugs challenges the status-quo and, in doing so, opens up exciting new possibilities in design.