22/04/2010 - 00:00

Shifting focus for designers

22/04/2010 - 00:00

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WESTERN Australia’s top interior designers are looking to diversify their focus away from commercial office fit-outs to government, leisure and hospitality work as the number of new office buildings coming to market peaks.

Shifting focus for designers

WESTERN Australia’s top interior designers are looking to diversify their focus away from commercial office fit-outs to government, leisure and hospitality work as the number of new office buildings coming to market peaks.

Interior design firm Woodhead’s principal, Jacqui Preshaw, whose firm ranked third on the WA Business News Book of Lists (see page 24), said demand for interior designer work over the past 12-months had been “a bit of a mixed bag.”

“It certainly hasn’t all been coming out of the private sector,” Ms Preshaw said.

“Apart from the really, really big fit-outs for the big oil and gas people that have been going on, really the only active player has been the government.”

One major government project boosting demand for designers was the $500 million Perth Arena, which had its interior design unveiled by VenuesWest this week.

The design was a joint venture by Perth-based firms Cameron Chisolm & Nicol and Ashton Raggat McDougall, and Los Angeles-based RKTL.

Cameron Chisolm & Nicol director Dominic Snellgrove said the project was symbolic of the shift in focus, and that hospitality and leisure projects would make up the majority of his group’s work over the next 12 months.

Mr Snellgrove said he expected work to pick up significantly due to the improved state of the WA economy.

“Over the last six months in particular, perhaps even over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a substantial rise in the number of enquiries and the number of projects starting, so we are certainly beginning to see a speeding up of the economy in Perth,” Mr Snellgrove said.

“The outlook currently is significantly better than it was 12 months ago, and that is based on the fact that we are actively employing and engaging people at the moment to support the number of design projects that we have coming on stream.”

Mr Snellgrove added another significant change over the past year was an increased client focus on sustainable design techniques, which he expected would characterise interior design work for the next two to three years.

In the biggest change of rank in the WA Business News Book of Lists, Anitma Design Group has slipped from the top 20, after head designers Paul Lim and Anita Moullin decided to close the doors and go in separate directions.

Mr Lim is now managing director of a new studio, MATA Design Group, which he said would focus on residential and hospitality projects.

“We’re trying to keep it boutique, we don’t do large scale projects, like education,” Mr Lim said.

“I want to focus on our new direction, which is doing more boutique work for residential and more hospitality.

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