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    Studio Visit: Monique Woodward, architect

    7_wowowa_studio_kiehls aus interview

    It’s not often on just hearing a name that you get such a strong sense of the dynamism behind a creative duo, but this is just the case with WOWOWA (implied!) whose co-founders Monique and Scott Woodward forge a next-generation approach to architectural practice with a kind of positive charge often missing in professional creative circles.

    In WOWOWA Architecture & Interiors, the pair have created the kind of practice they always wanted to work in, one that prioritises artistic expression, teaching and advocacy as essential to ongoing creativity. Alongside partner Scott, Monique is a vocal advocate for improved living standards and accessibility of quality design as a tenet of modern Australian culture.

    From their glittering Tin & Ed business cards to the bold glazed red brick façade of the Finn House, WOWOWA is unafraid of a playful nod to the kitch, and their declaration of a radical postmodernist style is one beautifully tailored to bring a fresh optimism to the architecture of the everyday – the humble family home. We spoke to Monique at WOWOWA’s shopfront studio in Melbourne’s leafy Carlton North about her passion for celebrating Australian culture and why more creatives should embrace the power of marketing.

    1_Monique & Scott Woodward

    As an emerging practice, WOWOWA has a strong brand and clear creative directive – what inspired that focus and how has it shaped the way you practice?

    One of the biggest challenges we faced initially as a fledgling but ambitious creative practice was acknowledging that even if you were the greatest architect in the world, you need to be able to run a sustainable business to keep up that practice, and to successfully market yourself is a big part of that business’ success.

    I undertook a marketing course at the local TAFE and we engaged a business coach, really immersed ourselves in marketing, read a lot of business and marketing literature alongside our favourite design journals.

    We quickly realised that what we were saying to the world though our marketing – that we could do anything – was out of touch with the reality of our work at the moment. Whilst we do have a few small civic projects on the go and really enjoy the possibilities of larger scale projects, our current built reality is residential. Luckily, we love residential work, and it’s a big part of who we are as a practice, so it was important to acknowledge those roots and really emphasise its part in our core identity.

    From this we developed a strategy that allowed us to focus in on the kind of clients we love working with – those who want to create their ‘forever home’. They’re committed to a place, and are prepared to do some soul searching, and explore what it is that they really want from a home environment.

    Putting ourselves out there as a practice for professional families, with the tagline ‘life is too short for boring spaces’, we’ve found that people that subscribe to that will instantly recognise a kinship, and might know a little more of what to expect from us in the process. We can then work together and really bounce off each other in a super collaborative way. This makes the process a whole lot more enjoyable for both parties.

    2_project_forever_house_John Gollings

    Image by John Gollings

    How has this focus on creating a client’s ‘forever home’ influenced your work?

    It gives us license to work with our clients in really rewarding creative depth, to find out what they think about colour, sculpture or pattern, and taking that through to find out how flexible and functional spatial solutions can work for them. I think that’s one of our strengths, making small spaces work hard, and that’s one of the reasons we love renovations, the challenge of really cranking up an existing space and making it truly multi-purpose.

    Focusing on the small scale also allows us to really immerse ourselves in the application of the theory and art of creative practice. One thing is I’m a massive sucker for ornament. Ornament, in its three dimensions, really changes the way you perceive a space, and I think that’s when a space really starts to get interesting.

    What is your motivates you creatively?

    My all-time favourite design inspiration has to be the humble Hills Hoist – there is so much ingenuity and kitsch beauty in perhaps undervalued elements of Australian design history that are ripe to be to explored creatively.

    We see ourselves as a radically postmodern practice, propelling ideas forward to a new audience. Current trends suggest people are trying to revert back to modernism, and I find that quite unnatural, to be attempting to wind the clock back, and instead of creating spaces for living now, there is this tendency for blank spaces and miscellaneous design solutions; a blank floating shelf, a picture window to a non-descript view.

    Society is always moving forward, and new technologies challenge the idea of the modernist home. We pride ourselves on not getting caught up on finicky modernist details but still having a very deep focus on embedding meaning in the quality of the interiors we create. We don’t necessarily prescribe what kind of curtains you should have, but we demand a high level of client engagement, that is often so rich that at the end of this day you can guide each other to the best solution for that space.

    The nature of the construction industry means design and building programs can often stretch out over several years – how do keep up the creative energy between both clients and yourselves throughout that process?

    From the very outset, we ask that our clients engage heavily in the design process, usually starting with inspiration scrapbooks, a simple cut and paste! Often in a 50c book or using sites like Pinterest, we get them to collect things from all kinds of sources, not just completed projects in design magazines. We want them to let us in on who they are, and the more information they can give, the greater depth of engagement we can have and the better the project outcome will be.

    From a practice point of view – Mel (Bright) spoke at a recent AIA women’s day breakfast about how there’s only really been three cycles of work in her ten years of practice, which is I think is an experience shared by many architects. It feels like we’re about to hit our second cycle, which makes it exciting to see the development in our work and be proud of what we’ve achieved so far.

    5_projects_kooyong_apartment_Martina Gemmola

    Image of Kooyong apartment by Martina Gemmola

    How have you tailored your practice to allow ongoing teaching and community advocacy commitments alongside your design projects?

    From the outset we wanted to create the studio that we had always wanted to work in, and one that would allow us to grow into as a practice. A lot of questions arose of what was important to us as a practice; it’s collaborative, its deep in discussions, surrounded by plants, and embedded in the local community. We work fairly solidly from 9.30-5.30pm, respecting the workday, but recognise that we while could work till 10pm, it comes back to practicing what you preach – you can’t advocate to increase the standard of living and then work yourself to the bone in the process.

    It means we’re able to maintain a lot of energy in the studio throughout the day, which is slightly more optimistic than spending half an hour on The Age website at midday then having to work late into the night. I’m reading managerial books and trying to look beyond being just technically good at what we do, because that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily good managers or business owners, but we can be, so it’s a skill that needs to be learned side by side with design.

    We also implement ‘cultural Sunday’ which is to make sure we do something that a) recognises it’s important to make time to experience new things to keep that fire of creative inspiration burning and b) can be instagrammed, so yes, we’re always looking for the marketing tool!

    Keely Malady is a graduate architect living in Melbourne. Keely’s blog, Small Talk & Co. aims to hold a space open for a new conversation on the wonders of work, and all the small things that make up a life well lived. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


    Tags: architect, collaboration, design, interiors, partners, studio visit
    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Interviews with Creative Women, Studio Visit | Comments Off
    Posted on

    My Advice: Growth tips for Instagram

    My Advice

    By Andrea McArthur

    Three prolific Instagrammers share their tried and tested tips for growing your brand on Instagram…

    Petrina Turner, Designer. Stylist. Maker. Dreamer. Do-er. Petrina Turner Design
    www.petrinaturnerdesign.com.au // Instagram @petrinaturnerdesign // Followers 21.7k

    Petrina Turner

    I don’t think it’s any secret amongst those who know me that I love Instagram. As a designer, stylist and maker I am definitely a visual person and Instagram is the perfect medium for me to use as a visual diary to capture inspiration and beauty on a daily basis. And if you really look there is beauty everywhere.

    My biggest piece of advice to anyone wanting to grow their network on Instagram is to be authentic. I post about the things that speak to me, and share the things I love. I never really set out to build a profile on Instagram, I just wanted to capture the beauty and my following happened quite organically. As a small business owner I found it a place of incredible inspiration, a place where at any time of the day or night I was connecting with like minds and creative souls. And my tribe grew… and grew… and grew.

    I don’t really use it as a marketing tool by design. I think that by sharing what I see, and how I see it, it gives people an insight into how I work and my style. I really love my work as a designer so of course I am often sharing my work, or snippets of it. So I guess in that sense my Instagram account is an extension of my portfolio. I think what I’m really doing is taking people on my journey with me, and that resonates.

    And I like the interaction with people that Instagram gives me. More than the number of followers what has really been the greatest gift from Instagram are the genuine connections I have made through it. It has led to inspiration, collaboration, PR and most importantly wonderful friendships. I try as much as possible to respond to the comments left on my images. With the amount I sometimes get I don’t always manage to respond to every single one, but I can assure you that I read and appreciate them all.

    So find your true voice and share it. People will listen if it comes from your heart.

    Jessica Viscarde, Creative Director Eclectic Creative
    www.eclecticcreative.com.au // Instagram @jess_eclecticcreative// Followers 17.7k

    Jessica Viscarde

    Tell your story
    I have always treated instagram as a visual diary and a story-telling tool that has documented my own work and a means of engaging with other likeminded individuals. I really believe that there is a market out there for absolutely anything and everything; you just need to find your people. And you find your people by simply just being yourself. Instagram is a powerful platform for reflecting your style, establishing your unique identity and showing off your creative flair. Everyone has a story that needs to be shared as we all have something to offer and can all learn something from it, so make sure you tell your own story through your visuals.

    I started my own hashtag #pocketofmyhome long before anyone was really using them as a means of creating communities or connecting with others. I wanted a place where people could go and celebrate their own homes, not just the ones found in glossy magazines. I wanted to celebrate real homes with personality and create a little space for everyone to go and share their home pictures. Without much promotion at all or having to annoy people with too many competition spam, #pocketofmyhome now boasts close to 25K images from users all over the world! I love hearing that people have connected and become friends through the tag – what a fabulous community!

    Be consistent
    Consistency is the magical, glittery goodness that in my opinion binds everything together and creates a visually stimulating and effective instagram. Consistency can come from using a similar theme/filter or colour way through your imagery, only sharing images from a particular genre (such as travel, interiors, food etc) or working out a mixture of everything but delivered in a consistent way, maybe posting time or your written style.

    Consistency gives your followers a feeling of familiarity and builds trust and assures them the style of imagery they will see when they scroll down to your feed. My imagery is all mine, created by myself and our contributors and includes behind the scenes shots, images of my own home and even features my little rescue cat, Peg… as I want to tell my story and part of that is I love cats!

    Quality + crediting
    Instagram is visual so make sure your images are of excellent quality so people actually want to see them and like them. This means no pixelation or blurred images, no selfies in the bathroom or toilet and if you are using apps to edit or reframe your images, pay the extra couple of bucks to have their ads or text removed! I also prefer to share my own work so my followers can get an authentic sense of the work I can create and deliver and who I see whom I collaborate with… In the rare occasion I regram an image, I make sure I credit where credit is due. Make sure you mention the account, not just tag them in (as so many people don’t see the tags) and ensure the credit/mention is in the first line of your message. And don’t forget to credit the photographers, they always get missed out. Just do the right thing and share the love… correctly!

    Engage with your followers
    Lastly, engage with your followers, talk to them, and get to know them, let them get to know you. You’d be surprised whom you meet on instagram and can connect with. I have an amazing amount of support and have spoken with so many gorgeous people all just doing their own thing. Many of my collaborations have come from connections made on instagram so talk to people; you never know where it may lead.

    Madeleine Dore, Founder and editor of Extraordinary Routines
    www.extraordinaryroutines.com // Instagram @extraordinary_routines // Followers 6,953

    Madeleine Dore

    The nature of my interview project Extraordinary Routines has allowed my Instagram network to grow quite quickly. While a complete bonus, it’s helped to have interviewees with large followings share snippets of the interview and praise the project on their profile.

    That said, people are discerning and won’t necessarily follow you on Instagram simply because someone has shared your work. You need to capture their attention when they click through to your profile – make it is as easy as possible for them to identify what you are about, and determine if your aesthetic is for them. From the beginning, I tried to keep the overall look of my feed consistent, quirky, and colourful. My profile description and icon clearly communicate my focus on creative’s routines, a topic that seems to create intrigue. Some Instagrammers who do this well include @oakandink, @chiliphilly and @socalitybarbie.

    For me, the offline network I have grown through Instagram has been more fulfilling than seeing the number of followers grow. I was recently out to dinner and I looked at the friendly faces at the table and realised I had met them all through Instagram. I’ve made some beautiful friendships, and it’s as simple as telling people you admire their work, and once you have built some rapport, suggest coffee or brunch. I’ve even nabbed some dates that way! But romance aside, my favourite social media tip is to be social!

    – – –

    Thank you ladies for providing your tried and tested tips for growing your brand on Instagram. Title image by Eclectic Creative (@jess_eclecticcreative) from Instagram.

    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Freelance Designer based in Brisbane. Design is her true love and she goes weak at the knees over strategic branding. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Tags: business tips, Instagram, my advice, Regular Columns, social media, tips
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Marketing and Social Media Basics, Starting a Business | Comments Off