While many architects tend to focus on the shell of a building, Brooke Aitken likes to take a more wholistic approach. She believes the interior design is just as important as the facade, and helps to create a seamless finish. It is a philosophy developed during her time working in the UK, with leading figure Anouska Hempel (who is featured in the March/April 2012 issue of Vogue Living). And during her time with Richard Johnson.
Which five words best describe you? Passionate, inquisitive, travelled, determined... clichéd..
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My first job was with Denton Corker Marshall Tokyo whilst at university studying architecture and I then joined the Sydney office once I had graduated (now JPW). I stayed with them until I moved to England and worked for Anouska Hempel Design. Richard Johnson (JPW) taught me to pare design to simple key elements and Anouska Hempel taught me that the design of large project is as important as a simple object - God is in the Detail. I also learnt that interior decoration is so important to finishing a space – something that the practice of architecture tends to shun in this country. Since returning to Australia I opened our office and we predominately work on residential, retail and office design. We like to work from the external architecture down to choosing the bed linen so it is a seamless design.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To know that your first design idea for a project is often the best and be committed to it.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Actually there are two so far. The first is being the project architect for the interiors of the Melbourne Museum before I turned 30. I look back and wonder why they gave me the job at such a young age! The other is building my home/office on a shoestring budget and staying married. I tell my clients building is one of the most stressful things for a couple to do, but now I can personally attest to it! The fact remains, I can wake up every day and smile that I live in something I love and I’d definitely do it all again.
What’s been your best decision? To open our office.
Who inspires you? So many architects and designers from across the world. Japanese architects such as Ando and Maki, French designers like Putman, Liaigre and Delcourt, Scandinavian architects such as Aalto and of course Anouska Hempel and Richard Johnson have inspired much of my work.
What are you passionate about? Japan – its culture, design, food, people.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Difficult question: there are so many amazing people with stories out there. Maybe Le Corbusier because he had so many ideals which fell so short, yet his buildings still bring me to tears when I visit them.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? A work-life balance.
What are you reading? Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot. What an incredible woman.