Italian-born Luca Vezzosi partially credits a “deeply formative experience” at John Wardle Architects for his readiness to undertake the newly created director of architecture role at Mim Design. The opportunity to join the Melbourne-based practice, led by founder Miriam Fanning, “couldn’t have come at a better time,” he says. “The studio is going through a really exciting period, celebrating its 21st year in operation and taking on more architectural projects than ever before.”
Drawing upon an early education in fine art at L’Istituto Statale D’arte in the Northern Italian region of Liguria, where he was able to develop his skills and passion for the handmade – “skills that I continue to use each day in my work at Mim Design” – Luca Vezzosi says he is driven by materiality and tactility; designing the finer details and complex layering for unique projects.
Luca joined Daily Architecture News for a five-or-so minute conversation where he reveals more about his new role, highlights the importance of putting pencil to paper in an increasingly digital world and shares his tips for finding the perfect client-architect match.
Can you tell us more about your new role as director of architecture?
Luca Vezzosi: At Mim Design, the continuity of design between the inside and out is a central ethos of our practice. My role is to advance and strengthen this facet, and our ongoing commitment to the integration of the two crafts.
This means that at the concept stage, there is no separation or divide between architecture and design. Rather, a holistic discourse that evolves in each stage of the project, until we are able to achieve the best possible outcome.
How frequently do you draw upon your fine art foundations in your everyday practice?
LV: My early education in fine art instilled values that I try to impart in my work and with my team every day. For example, the ability to communicate our thoughts via the use of a pencil.
Whilst computer aided design has come in leaps and bounds in the past 15 to 20 years, the ability to communicate one’s ideas, thoughts and vision by putting lead to paper remains a designer’s most essential skill – not only in day-to-day office life, but in client meetings or on site in discussion with builders and trades.
What led you to pursue a career in architecture?
LV: I have always been interested in construction and the arts. Being Italian born, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to the rich European tapestry of architecture, arts and design from a young age. The exposure to such an enveloping environment led me to pursue an education in the arts.
Before coming to Australia, I studied at L’Istituto Statale D’arte, which is a classical arts training system that specialises in everything from sculpting and furniture making to textile prints. There, I was able to develop the core architectural skills for technical detailing, hand drawing and model making – skills that I now draw upon in my everyday practice.
I completed my Masters of Architecture at the University of South Australia, and can still remember feeling inspired by the Kaurna Building, which stood alone amongst the cream and beige colours of the campus – a sculptural expression in built form. I look back on this as quite a serendipitous moment in time, where I channelled my fine arts education into that of architecture, and set out on my new career path.
The ability to communicate one’s ideas, thoughts and vision by putting lead to paper remains a designer’s most essential skill.
What is a current or an ongoing source of creative inspiration for you?
LV: There is enormous inspiration to be derived from a detailed client brief that calls for the problem-solving of our team. Projects develop as a response to programming, site and surrounds, and when we look holistically at a site and challenge ourselves to design for permanence, longevity, enjoyment and interaction.
Career highlight so far?
LV: Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work on some incredible projects, and it’s this experience that I draw from every day. Prior to joining Mim Design I worked alongside John Wardle on a once in a lifetime project, the Phoenix Art Gallery in Sydney. The commission by Judith Neilson allowed us to truly explore the boundary of what was possible with traditionally hand-laid bricks.
More recently, being appointed as the director of architecture for one of Australia’s leading architecture and interior design practices – Mim Design – is absolutely a career highlight and a role I am looking forward to fostering as we continue our work with the love of design and meticulous approach that defines our studio.
Sky’s the limit: what’s the dream project for you?
LV: In the studio today we have some incredible projects wrapping up and on the horizon, from an expansive private residence on the Mornington Peninsula to several luxury multi-residential projects up and down the east coast of Australia. All of these projects have allowed us to explore unchartered territories and experiment with materials.
As a studio we thrive on problem solving as this keeps us creatively inspired and progressive, and at Mim Design there’s never any time to stand still.
For someone looking to engage an architect, what are your tips for finding the ‘perfect match’?
Affinity – The process can often be long and tumultuous, so finding the right person for the job is the most important part. Choose to work with someone you feel aligned with, and who will be there with creative ideas and a passion for problem solving when it counts most.
Perspective – A good designer not only addresses the brief, but also frames the response in a way that allows the client to see the project under a new light.
Aspiration – While not every project is a career defining one, each project should strive to improve the status quo.
What are your most covetable objects/pieces/artworks?
- A pair of plaster casts of concrete interlocking blocks by Walter Burley Griffin.
- An oil on linen painting by Melbourne-based artist Ebony Truscott.
- A vinyl of the Köln concert by [American jazz pianist] Keith Jarrett.
And finally, what’s something we probably don’t know about Luca Vezzosi?
LV: In 2007 I competed at the Uni Games in Thailand, representing Australia in Water Polo, which feels like a lifetime ago now.
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While not every project is a career defining one, each project should strive to improve the status quo.