Charlotte Hughes-Hallett, Masters of Interior Design student at the Victoria University of Wellington, is the recipient of the 2017 Warren and Mahoney MIA scholarship.
Furthering our commitment to supporting the next generation of Interior Designers, the scholarship has been established to recognise talented individuals and to offer the opportunity to build closer ties with our firm and with the wider interior design industry. Charlotte is currently on a summer internship within our Wellington studio and has received a $2,000 grant towards her study.
Can you tell us about your background?
I was born in Australia and moved to New Zealand when I was 3. At the age of six I moved to Tokyo, Japan where I spent 12 years. Although it was normal and commonplace at the time, in hindsight, architectural innovation was always around me. Geographically growing up in Japan was incredibly valuable and I was fortunate enough to foster my passion and travel to numerous developing countries to volunteer in local communities, and in one instance help build a school. I returned to New Zealand and moved to Wellington at the age of 18 to start my tertiary education at Victoria University’s School of Architecture.
What drew you to study interior architecture as a profession?
Prior to choosing architecture I was tossing up between medicine and architecture. I guess I have always been fascinated with the human body, and more specifically the relationship between the human body and its environment. The concern that interior architecture has for the human body was alluring. Interior architecture designs at a scale that accommodates and thrives off the intimate sensorial operations of the human body.
Where do you find your inspiration and motivation?
Knowing that intentioned architecture can relate to and enhance the wellbeing of individuals. For the most part, our everyday activities are conducted within or adjacent to architecture. Architecture impacts everyone. In such light it inspires me to curate architectural experiences that engage with its inhabitants and generate unique, meaningful, and relevant experiences.
What made you apply for the Warren and Mahoney MIA scholarship?
One of the biggest factors that drew me to Warren and Mahoney was their multi-market experience/opportunities and their innovation. I knew that if I was given the opportunity to intern at Warren and Mahoney it would offer multidisciplinary collaborations, and challenge and further develop my artistry, creative dexterity and practical knowledge.
What are you enjoying most about this experience?
There is just so much to learn from the day-to-day experience at Warren and Mahoney. I am really enjoying being given the opportunity to work on several projects and being able to dabble in the various design phases. The office environment too is dynamic and everyone is incredibly helpful and tolerant of my constant questioning.
What did you know about Warren and Mahoney? Has this knowledge been reinforced since joining the team?
Whether it be interior, building, or master planning/urban design, Warren and Mahoney strive for quality design and to curate creative and relevant experiences that embody their clients’ requirements. This has been reinforced since joining the team. This ethos is reverberated at every dimension.
What are your career and life ambitions?
In 2-3 years I want to enrol again in part-time studies and study migration patterns and economic development. The biological body to architecture has a long-entrenched history. It is a standard that is necessary and should be sustainable and equitable. However, in the wake of rapid population growth, it is not readily assessable to everyone. Architecture has the power and agency to generate resilient, inclusive communities. I see myself working with organisations in developing countries to work with communities to develop innovative building solutions and processes.
What has surprised you most about working in an architectural practice?
How readily accessible material samples are. If they aren’t in the material library already, you can reach out to suppliers and have a little package awaiting you the next day. It’s amazing! I am a little obsessed with materials, especially textiles.
What are you hoping to learn / take away from your time here?
I am a greenhorn in the field of architectural practice. I mean there’s so much involved in getting something built, I am still wrapping my head around everyone’s ability to keep on top of emails, computer drafting, client meetings, site visits, coordination meetings etc. So, from this experience I fundamentally want to gain a holistic understanding of how a firm works and establish positive connections.
What are your expectations of the industry and what do you think should change / improve or evolve?
Current analyses, materials and construction technologies are pushing architecture to new heights, both figuratively and literally. Integrated technologies are frequent in contemporary environments. As great as this evolution is I hope that our sensorial needs aren’t left unmet. In our digital world, design needs to connect with people. More than ever in this modern age, designers need to embrace what makes up human experience.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and what would your home look like?
At this moment, if I could live anywhere it would be Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is thriving, full of surprises and enthusiasm. I was there last October and fell in love with its diversity and design sphere. I would live in the historic downtown area just off the Danube river. My apartment would have basic bones. White walls, concrete floors, and exposed pipes. Adorned with a burgeoning art collection and layered rugs to add colour and life. Not to mention white orchids everywhere!
What advice would you give to someone starting their education in interior architecture?
Firstly, create freely. Be willing to take risks and deviate from the norm. And make sure you love it. Frustration is an everyday emotion when studying architecture but if you love it you’ll persevere. Like any career prospect you should see it as a lifestyle, not just a prospective occupation.
Secondly, I know at University you are living on budget, but I can’t undermine the benefits of travelling. Nothing compares to experiencing architecture in person and witnessing architecture from different cultures.