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Journal

Homegrown | Interview with Iva Foschia

Iva Foschia, Founder and principal of IF Architecture, Melbourne chats with us about her practice and design style.

JDT

What enticed you into a career in Architecture and how did you get started?

IF

After High School I didn’t know what I wanted to study, but I knew I wanted something within the arts, something broad and interesting to sew the seed and see what would flourish. 

I had always loved architecture but didn’t realise until looking back. As a kid I always had A3 sketch books filled with cut outs from the newspaper – plans and adverts for spec homes that I would trace over adding to and ‘improving’ the designs, which is really funny to think back on.

 

I studied at Monash University, Melbourne in visual arts, including architectural history, which I loved and then applied for an architecture major. I finished Arts first, as I felt I needed a backup plan/degree and then went on to RMIT for Architecture. 

 

My first job was at Elenberg Fraser Architecture. I had worked for a builder while studying and it’s these first experiences of the building process that provided invaluable insights into the practicalities of design and crucially having a dialogue with the trades. Working with the maker is so critical - you can’t truly understand how to design something if you don’t know how it’s built. This invites dialogue and conversation between the concept stage and the real world implications. This is a step up from designing on paper. I often work with the same builder, Trent, who has been a great mentor.

JDT

How has your upbringing in Australia contributed to your design style?

IF

Place impacts everything! Broadly – aside from design, the culture and environment is different to anywhere else.  In Australasia we want the northern sun and architecturally, we are so much “younger” in a sense, we don’t have thousands of years of European history literally looming over us weighing us down creatively. 

Building is SO hard in Europe, with many hoops to jump through and rules to abide by in order to retain the heritage.  Australia is more unfettered and free to be adventurous. 

We should however all know our indigenous history better. How different would we feel if we were more broadly connected to our own dreamtime stories, I’m certain our design would differ. We would appreciate nature and the environment more; it’s the simple aspects of nature that should inspire the design.

JDT

In your opinion how connected is the interior design process to the architecture?

IF

Intrinsically. They are the yin and the yang. They speak to each other and create the whole picture of a building and space. Beautiful details for beautiful detail’s sake are not a resolved outcome and should be part of a larger narrative.  The interior cannot be left as an afterthought.  Liveability and functionality of the space is integral to how the people integrate with it. 

Especially with hospitality, it must be ‘hospitable’ and must work with the highest efficiency.   Inefficient spaces become costly to businesses, you need effective flow within a space - for example how a waiter moves to your table.  I think women have a real knack for considering how a spaces operate.  How a bathroom needs to accommodate bathing a child, how far you have to lean down, the space beside the tub etc. Thinking about who inhabits the space and the practicalities of it is so important. 

Working with an architect allows you to have a bespoke space for you and your life and how you like to live. The brief from us back to the prospective client is really detailed - how do you spend your time, do you entertain? A dining area that only accommodates six is no good for a family who routinely have 20 people for Christmas.  An advantage to having an architect with an interior design specialty is the whole design process can suit the observed and latent needs of the client.

JDT

What do you draw on for inspiration?   

IF

Everything! Instagram, other designers and what is happening around us on a daily basis.  This feeds you creatively in small ways.

The narrative or the idea for a project is a lot more specific to the site, the client, or the idea from that client. 

The Prince of Wales for example, there was the history and richness of the patina so we drew from that, we didn’t need to look externally for inspiration, it had such a rich past that was so fruitful. 

However with Jardan in Perth, we had to source the inspiration from the region. Melbourne, the first flagship, was inspired by iconic Australian homes, whereas Sydney was about iconic Australian families. Perth, in brainstorming, was about responding to how different the West Coast is to the East.  It was about trying to connect Jardan to the Western Australian context and landscape. Every year at this time, wild flowers just spring to life on the side of the road and in the middle of nowhere they are spectacular and vivid and such a stunning contrast against the dulled greens and bright ochre of the rest of the landscape. Within the Jardan Perth space there is a path through the marble floor that represents walking through the wildflowers.

These projects for Jardan are an embodiment of our Australian design perspective and the product itself. It’s not just the space, but everything within it, all of their unique pieces. Everything about it is so different to the US and European brands. A strong point of view that is unlike any other. Uniquely Australian. 

JDT

You work across a variety of projects from residential to retail to hospitality. Do you enjoy the opportunity to flex those different creative muscles?

IF

The basic principles are really listening and understanding each of the individual clients as much as possible. Distilling their words down to 3D form. There is definitely a lot of crossover in skills and process such as efficiencies and understanding the programmatic requirements of the space. In commercial spaces the distinction is the creation of a really strong narrative, relying on storytelling; whereas residential, it’s about the flow state, how the clients move through and interact within the space, the tactile touch points and the home as a sanctuary. Residential is not so much about imbuing the space with a story, more about the personality of the client. 

JDT

How important is materiality to the realisation of a project and your overarching vision? How do you approach your finishes and palette selection?

IF

Super important, because I strongly believe in texture and tactile surfaces and have a love of colour. Materiality plays a huge part in helping to layer a space. The how involves a funnelling down to what the overarching brief should feel like. You begin asking yourself “is the space supposed to feel THIS way, how do the colours and textures make that happen?”

Thinking with all the senses is important from entering the space and seeing it in the macro, from a distance, to moving in and sitting on a chair or banquette and interacting with it in the micro, the sensory experience of interacting with the surfaces at that scale.

JDT

Do you have a preference with fabric types and how you use them to enhance your architecture?

IF

Definitely yes, a desire for natural wool, cotton and linen - textural fabrics - I don’t like flat things! I love fabrics that have pile, a nubby surface or a three dimensional quality. Natural materials work so well together, and I love things that can patina and age.  Surfaces like leather can mark and fade through time and use, it is part of the beauty and character of that material. Complementing a new space with materials and textures that can wear and patina brings this wonderful contrast and tension between new and beautiful and something worn and aged. If there’s no contrast, it’s boring! Textiles are the bit you can touch and the feeling it evokes is so emotional, I just love textiles.

JDT

What do you find exciting and inspiring about Australian design and its community?

IF

The different points of view and perspectives.  I love to see people thinking differently to me. There’s so much variety in Australia, observing new viewpoints is inspiring and I enjoy being challenged in that way. I love a strong reaction, even things I’m not fond of, I appreciate the voice and the courage of doing something different, not buying in to trends. We are braver here, we’re unfettered, free.

JDT

Do you have a specific project you are especially proud of, and what you enjoyed about it?

IF

I’m proud of everything! Anything we have conceived of actually getting built is pretty amazing. The thrill of seeing the finished building is always great. I’m really proud of ongoing relationships with clients like Jardan, who have done multiple projects with us and who have trusted me, or our work with Ben Shewry on Attica restaurant, or Andrew McConnell – Marion, Cutler and Co – the more you get to know someone the better, the projects respond to the relationship.

JDT

What’s next for Iva and IF Architecture?

IF

We have a number of bespoke products that were developed for previous projects that have gone on to become an item that lives on in its own right, like our collaboration with Grazia and Co. I would love to develop that design muscle more and potentially go further afield into textiles, more furniture design, lighting, anything in that space would be amazing. Having that full service approach of being able to design all aspects of a project is a joy.

Ultimately, it’s just to keep on growing and developing. We have some beautiful projects on the table right now and I can’t wait to see them come to life so we are always looking ahead! We have a lighting showroom project that I am really excited about, and a beautiful private residence.

www.ifarchitecture.com.au

A Q&A with Buster Caldwell, Creative Director

Wonder is a concept and interior design studio based in Auckland. They create 3D environments for New Zealand brands, working mainly within the retail and hospitality industry but dabble in other areas from time to time. 

Their process mixes both art and architecture to deliver character environments with a unique edge. Providing a full-service means we work on pretty much everything from concept creation, master planning, detailed design documentation, building consents, branding and graphics, material selections and fit-out management.

They help businesses find their antidote to the vanilla.