Team

Interior Designer Q&A - Gohta Shiraishi

While you can be forgiven for thinking that interior design is all about aesthetics, the truth is a lot more goes into the planning and designing of an interior. To get a behind the scenes glimpse we sat down with Guymer Bailey’s Senior Interior Designer Gohta Shiraishi from our Melbourne studio to ask him about his design process.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself...

I’ve always enjoyed being creative, and as a kid, I wanted to be an artist or an inventor. Being naturally inquisitive, I like to connect the dots.

I studied Industrial Design, and upon graduating, I went to work for a small Interior Design firm (Cube Architects) designing bespoke furniture and joinery. Over the years I picked up the Interiors trade and worked on many workplace, education and retail projects before I came to lead the retail design projects at my first firm.

Since then, I’ve worked at a large Australasian scale firm (Warren and Mahoney) for a few years where I further honed my skills, mostly in the retail and education sectors, and now I’m a proud member of Guymer Bailey Interiors.

What do you love most about being an interior designer?

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I would say creating a curated and engaging experience in the built environment through good design. All disciplines in our industry have their vital roles to play from the consultant engineers, project managers and of course we can’t forget about the architects! But the role of the Interior Designer is to create the interface between the built environment and human experience.

The whole process of design is thoroughly enjoyable from space planning and user traffic flow strategies and adjacencies, to developing the concept behind the look and feel of a space. It is a gratifying challenge to achieve an aspirational outcome while resolving technical issues and bringing it all together to deliver a project.

Who or what inspires your design? Do you have any influences?

Paul Priestman of Priestman Goode was a strong influence in my early career. His firm is a major player in the spatial design, Aviation and Transport design and industrial design sectors in the UK and one of their standout projects at the time was the redesign of Virgin Airlines Business Class seating.

They developed the clamshell partition system, which is now quite commonplace, but was a revolution in Aviation interiors at the time. What I loved about this design was that it wasn’t only an aesthetically driven outcome. It improved the user experience by improving privacy and also gives the occupant seated behind a fixed wall in which their tray table and TV are mounted too. This makes for a much more pleasing experience for passengers.

I can remember thinking, “Wow, there’s so much more to design than just looks”. Improving user experience through good design that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional is a key driver of my work.

Walk us through your design process, how do you create an interior clients love?

As a designer, it’s essential to respond to the needs of the client by understanding what it is they want to achieve with their space. This ultimately comes down to how they want the users to use the space. A big part of how users engage with a space is how they feel and react to an environment. With the client’s objective in mind, I’ll try and picture myself in the users' shoes and tailor the environment to facilitate a specific reaction from the users.

For example, I have a significant background in the retail banking sector and in those settings customers need to be served in a reassuringly professional environment. A high-quality fitout gives off an air of security and stability but how far you go with this needs to be balanced with the expectations of the clients target demographic.

With the users’ needs and expectations in mind, my initial high-level space planning will focus on the users “journey” through the space. Using the retail banking example again, key initial touch points need to be strategically placed to point the users in the right direction and help them move on to their next touchpoint which will usually be transaction or consultation based. Strategic use of wayfinding and locating concierge staff in the right areas is key to ensuring a smooth and trouble free user experience.

Using another example from another one of my sector backgrounds, workplace projects need to allow a business to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. So I will consider the needs of the key stakeholders and user groups and design spaces around their requirements. Agile workers need a mix of collaborative spaces when working with their colleagues but will also require more private working areas when focusing on process-oriented tasks. High-level executives often need to have confidential discussions, so adjacency to private and acoustically secure meeting or quiet rooms is crucial.

Once I have established the functional requirements of the space and have an overall floorplan, the next piece of the puzzle is to put together the overall theme and look and feel intent. For commercial retail projects this will often be tied to a brand image, and so the fitout will need to read harmoniously with the branding material in colour, form, texture and overall design language.

For hospitality projects, the space needs to be inviting, relaxing and entertaining at the same time. Much like the cuisine that may be on offer the “ingredients” need to be balanced carefully to be appealing to the palate. Workplace projects need a careful balance of engaging and stimulating settings that are not too distracting, as they need to be conducive to good work and productivity

In summary, make the space work well, and users will have a positive experience. Make the space look great too, and they’ll have a fantastic experience!

What has been your favourite project to design?

My involvement in Tauranga Crossing Shopping Centre has been a key highlight of my career so far, though I’ve found every project has its positives, even the difficult ones as they offer the most beneficial learning experiences.

What would be your dream design project?

I think it’s every designer's dream to have an unlimited project budget haha! But in all seriousness, I would say something that gives back to the community and enriches people's lives. A project that genuinely makes the world a better place would be truly amazing to be a part of.

What is your top interior design tip?

We live in a truly rich and diverse world. Regardless of personal tastes, I believe everything has its place in some way, in some form and somewhere. As a designer, it’s my job to make sure the right things go in the right place and often at the right time. A simple way of looking at it is to meet the project brief.

“Should I become a registered architect?”

In each state and territory of Australia, it is a legal requirement that any person using the title ‘architect’ or offering services to the public as an architect, must be registered with the Architects’ Board in that jurisdiction
— Architects Accreditation Council of Australia
Pictured: Kiril Petrov (left) and Patrick Smardon (right)

Pictured: Kiril Petrov (left) and Patrick Smardon (right)

While there are many benefits and career opportunities when progressing from a graduate of architecture to a registered architect, frequent tales of a frightful process that is both long and tedious can be enough to make any graduate think twice.

So to find out what it is really like, we sat down with two of our newest registered architects, Patrick Smardon and Kiril Petrov to find out about their experiences through the process.

Q: What motivated you to take become a registered architect?

Patrick: “It was about finishing what I started when I began architecture at university. Becoming a graduate of architecture did not feel like I had fully achieved what I began, but now becoming registered does have that feeling of completion.”

Kiril: “The biggest motivator was the support Guymer Bailey Architects provided and the Practicing Architecture (PARC) course I attended. This really helped me get through.”

Q: Is the exam process as intensive as they make out?

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Patrick: The exam is serious, but those of us from the office that undertook it participated in a night course to prepare for it. Having done the preparation, the exam is not as bad as it is made out to be.

Kiril: “There is a lot to read and absorb in a relatively short time. I think this can be very difficult if you have not experienced things first hand. I have been putting the registration off for a while until I felt I have the right kind of experience.”

Q: What do you think are the greatest benefits of being a registered architect?

Patrick: “The pay rise...no…well yes that’s great, but being registered was that next step in my growth for the past two years. Now that I have reached that target I can pick a new target so that I can continue to grow and develop.”

Kiril: “It’s the natural progression and final step to be able to use the title Architect and not have ‘graduate’ next your name anymore.”

Q: What was the most challenging part of the registration process?

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Patrick: “Many people say the interview, but well, mine was mostly talking about myself, and I have no issue talking about myself! I think the most difficult part was waiting for the results. They really know how to make you wait.”

Kiril: ”This will likely differ from person to person. Some find the actual paper quite difficult, while others find the interview very daunting. The written exam was particularly difficult this year. For me, the interview went pretty well.”

Q: What advice would you give those who are contemplating whether or not they want to become a registered architect?

Patrick: “First, do it; and second, undertake a preparation course. I undertook the Practicing Architecture (PARC) course. They do a fantastic job not only preparing you for the exam but preparing you to become a confident architect in day-to-day work life.”

Kiril: “It is vital to be exposed to a variety of projects, contract types and have the opportunity to be involved with a project from conception right to completion of defects. Only then you appreciate the theory and things start to click in terms of real practice.”

GUYMER BAILEY TAKE ON THE RIVER TO ROOFTOP CHALLENGE

Congratulations to the girls from Guymer Bailey Brisbane who took on the River to Rooftop challenge on Friday. 

Team Guymer Bailey after conquering the 1040 step climb

ABOUT RIVER TO ROOFTOP
River to Rooftop is a great opportunity to have fun and get fit whilst raising awareness and to help make a difference for women and kids experiencing domestic violence. Women's Legal Service helps mothers and their kids to secure safer futures. They provide free services providing practical legal tools to help women living with domestic violence and each year aid more than 11,000 women and with them, over 17,000 children.  

In one week the team raised just under $800 - and there is still time to donate. Simply click on the button below to be taken to the Guymer Bailey fundraising page.