There is a building on Bourke Street, Surry Hills that catches my eye every time I drive past. It is thoroughly modern, yet integrates almost seamlessly with the surrounding heritage-listed terraces. It is the base for Smart Design Studio, and is representative of what founder William Smart achieves with his architectural practice: thoughtful and thorough design. Since studying architecture at university, and earning his stripes at Foster and Partners in London, William founded Smart Design Studio in 1997. It is an award-winning practice which has created buildings such as the Seven Network offices in Pyrmont and the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale. In 2012 Smart Design Studio has won Best Residential Design and Best Colour in Residential Design at the Australian Interior Design Awards as well as Best Residential Interior at the Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards.
Which five words best describe you? Forward-thinking, detailed, optimistic, technical and creative.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was a small boy. After university I worked in France and then London for Foster and Partners before returning to Australia to work on Olympic Park Railway station. I then started my own practice, 14 years ago, and commenced work on small projects where I learnt about detail, collaboration and started to discover again my own design voice. Since that time we have steadily grown to an office of 30 people today with specialist teams for houses, apartment buildings, offices, public buildings or master planning. We do architecture and interiors because the best results are created when the two are seamlessly integrated.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never taking my eye off the ball: I learnt to keep close to all of our projects to maintain quality of result and efficient execution as well as building a team of people around me who do the same.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Creating our studio: where the culture is great, the people have fun and we’re together building a great body of work.
What’s been your best decision? Building the Smart Design Studio in Bourke St has transformed our business. The building has become a local landmark and gives us a beautiful environment to work in.
Who inspires you? The Spanish architect, Carlos Ferrater. His work is very simple, bold and has an exciting geometry which changes on each different site.
What are you passionate about? Uncompromising quality and being a leader in my profession.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Guy de Cointet
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be at a point where we feel we have enough extraordinary projects to warrant a great book of our work.
What are you reading? Dress your family in corduroy and denim - David Sedaris
images courtesy of smart design studio