Annika Keogh graduated from CATC in 2014 and landed her dream job with DKO twelve months later. Initially, Annika was hired as the receptionist for the architecture firm BUT after only a few short months was appointed the position of Junior Interior Designer. LJ04’s Sam O’Brien asked her the tough questions about her job and her views on disruption.

LJ Could you tell us a little bit about your role with DKO?

AK My role as an interior designer at DKO is fast-paced, challenging, often stressful, yet extremely rewarding. Focusing on multi-residential projects, the interior design team work closely with the architects on coordinating services. We work on creating a unique interior design concept that responds to a project’s brief, location, clientele and demographic.

LJ What has been your favourite project to work on so far?

AK My favourite project was a recent one named Annandale Place – a multi-res project consisting of twenty-eight townhouses/apartments. I enjoyed the smaller, boutique scale of this project, as well as the ‘smart industrial’ brief, which allowed us to play with the design and materials to give a luxurious yet edgy aesthetic – much like how I dream my own home will look.

The overall palette was quite monochrome, which I really love – my monochromatic wardrobe is a clear indication of this! One of my favourite features was the stunning Cote D’Azure marble kitchen island bench, four meters long and suspended on small black-steel cylindrical legs. This aesthetic followed through to the bathroom design with the same marble used as a feature ledge, with a black framed steel mirror and matte black tapware. Another stand-out feature for me was a straight-run stair, with a balustrade of black perforated steel that we incorporated in each apartment as a bold design feature.

We drew on the local industrial style lofts and warehouses for inspiration, however our objective was to refine these design elements to create a chic, edgy and high-end product to inspire, in turn, the stylish and trendy residents of Annandale.

LJ Could you tell us what you found to be the most difficult part of starting your first ‘real’ job after graduating?

AK Adapting to the office structure! As well as absorbing new practices and techniques, and learning the on-the-job skills and knowledge that you can only gain in the ‘real world’ environment.

LJ What does disruptive design mean to you as an interior designer?

AK I believe it’s important to remember we are creating spaces that people live in. Therefore, a key aspect of my job is to continuously produce designs that will keep up with and adapt to our ever-evolving lifestyles, with the rise in the use of technology and automation, with the growing interest in eco-friendly and renewable building materials, as well as with increasing rapidly changing trends. Designing a space that will stand the test of time, both aesthetically and functionally, could describe disruptive design for me.

LJ Could you list ten things that disrupt your design process (both positively and negatively)?

AK Client changes Whether it be time, budget, design decisions, materiality etc. Designers are always working to meet the client’s end need, and this process can often be disrupted when the client makes changes.

Budget Having to produce designs that are aesthetically appealing without a huge budget to work with is one of the biggest challenges for any designer. Working with lower budgets means you really need to be smart as a designer to create something beautiful that a) won’t cost an arm and a leg, and b) will stand the test of time.

Reality TV With all the hype of renovation shows in the last decade, everyone thinks they are capable of being an interior designer. Along with social media outlets like Pinterest any average jo can copy ideas that can undervalue the need for an interior designer.

BCA/Australian Standards During the design concept stage you have a million stunning ideas for a stair, only to realise it doesn’t comply with the Building Codes – no one wants to be sued!

Landscape/surroundings In architecture we have the choice to either design buildings that contrast with the surrounding landscape/ building materiality, or create a complete contrast. During the concept stage we study the area, demographic and lifestyle of the inhabitants, and create a design that will enhance the surroundings.

Time restrictions Sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day.

Product lead times/availability

On site issues Things rarely go smoothly on site and it’s all the little (or big) issues that pop up unexpectedly that disrupt the process. Whilst frustrating, these problems and challenges can be viewed as opportunities to modify the design and present an alternative outcome.

Value management process A really important factor to consider early in the design process when selecting finishes, fixtures, hardware, and furniture is the value management process (VM). Once a project goes out for tender and gets priced and (almost always) comes back at a much higher figure than anticipated, it goes through a VM process to cut costs where applicable. It’s important as an interior designer to select products that you know are well suited to the budget, and that if they were to be substituted it would be with something that suits aesthetically.

Constructive criticism learning to have thick skin and evolving your designs based on constructive criticism.

LJ Can you finish with a quote that you believe best articulates the idea of disruption?

AK “See problems as potential opportunities, and challenges as chances to grow.”

This interview is an excerpt from Ligature Journal Issue Four, pick up a copy here.