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Profile: Hecker Guthrie

The next Temple & Webster profile on Australian Interior Designers sees David Clarke catch up with Hamish Guthrie and Paul Hecker, founding partners of Melbourne-based interior design studio Hecker Guthrie.

What attracted you to the world of design?

Paul: As simple as it sounds, interior design seemed like a very pleasant way to live your life. I regularly reflect on the fact that our work revolves around creating beautiful spaces for people to live, work, shop or dine in – how could that not be attractive?

Who are the people (alive or dead) who you think were/are truly inspirational?

Hamish: I am inspired by any designer, musician or artist who can have the clarity of an idea and the ability to execute that idea with conviction and without compromise. Without knowing how the Bouroullec brothers work, there is a clarity and a consistency through their design which I certainly admire.

How would you describe your signature style?

Paul: Evolving. As designers we are constantly refining and developing our ideas and our aesthetic approach – but I would like to think that it is not about changing tac but rather engaging with fresh inspiration, product, materiality or lighting to take that style even further in the direction that speaks to us. I would also add that our signature style always incorporates authenticity, craft and enthusiasm.

What matters to you most in the work you do?

Hamish: I would say that knowing we have challenged ourselves and our client throughout that design process is an important element to the work that we do. It is also important to us as designers that big ideas that underpin every project are still evident and celebrated in the spaces we create.

Do you have a favourite residential project?

Hamish: I would like to say it is my own home (which I am currently designing) however after yearning for my own project for years, now that I am in the thick of it I am not so sure.

I was initially particularly excited to have complete control over the design process where there would be no compromises and no boundaries. As the process has evolved, I have been breaking all of my own rules by not having a fixed budget, a resolved set of drawings or a fixed program for that matter. Through this project I have come to realise that I feed off the more disciplined approach which is dictated by a formal client/consultant relationship; whereas when designing for myself, moments of clarity and enjoyment are often conflicted by emotion and self-doubt.

What is your design pet hate?

Paul: The perceived accessibility of the craft of interior design (by way of reality design shows). I often see a lack of sympathy for the spaces where a cheap colourful facelift prevails over preserving the integrity & materiality of the interior.

What do you think works without fail?

Paul: Quality.

You seem to enjoy collaborations with artists and craftspeople – is that important in the mix of how you create?

Hamish: I would hate to think that the spaces we create are limited by our own pool of ideas and skills. The collaborative process takes our initial ideas and extends and refines them beyond the realm of our capabilities, whilst simultaneously supporting a talented pool of local craftspeople. We also see these partnerships as a way of tapping into the specialised skill set of others, celebrating their knowledge, exploring ideas and ultimately learning something new in the process, for which as designers we can only benefit.

What would the future bring that would make your career complete?

Paul: Combining my love of design and my penchant for Ralph Lauren clothing by designing a high fashion design emporium for Ralph – in Paris perhaps.

You have had much peer recognition, judging and speaking engagements over the years – is there a key moment that matters most?

Hamish: Hecker Guthrie has been very well recognised within the industry, which we always find very humbling. We were proud last year to receive the ‘Gold Medal’ for enduring design at the IDEA Awards. This award celebrated a contribution to enduring design and gave recognition for a design journey that has evolved over the course of our careers. Paul and I are both caution that receiving that award was not the end, it was only the beginning – but that was a fairly key moment in both of our careers.

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Hecker & Guthrie

Temple & Webster

Hero Image by Derek Swalwell (derekswalwell.com), all other interiors images by Shannon McGrath (shannonmcgrath.com)

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