Journal Archive

2017 Workplace/Worklife — Cushla McFadden.

Post 2017 Workplace/Worklife — Cushla McFadden.

The workplace is no longer just a place to work, and the contemporary workplace needs to be designed as a place that contributes to people’s wellbeing – to productivity, efficiency, sociability, wellness, sense of community, ability to collaborate… the list goes on.

On 29 August, Architecture Media hosted its 2017 Workplace/Worklife forum as part of the Design Speaks program. It was held at the Eternity Place in Darlinghurst, Sydney, and I had the pleasure of attending and presenting.

The forum consisted of four keynote speakers and three case studies. The keynotes – Roberto Bannura, director at Steven Holl Architects (China); Eric Parry, founder and principal at Eric Parry Architects (UK); Caroline Burns, director at Workplace Revolution (Singapore); and Robbie Robertson, partner in experience design at Deloitte Digital (Sydney) – addressed current and future workplace trends related to architecture, design, technology and work styles. Their presentations were inspiring, and it was fascinating to hear these prominent thought leaders’ different perspectives on the future of the workplace.

Providing case study examples of how these trends are playing out in Australian workplace design, Tom Owens, studio director at Gensler (Sydney), discussed the home-away-from-home design concept at Dropbox Sydney; Kim Vella, head of premises and procurement at Clayton Utz (Sydney) spoke about the opportunities and challenges of office layouts; and I spoke about TomMarkHenry’s non-traditional approach to the design and fit out of WeWork’s co-working spaces in Martin Place and Pyrmont.

My presentation detailed how we created a workplace that doesn’t look or feel like a typical office space, and by doing so provides users with more than just a place to work. The space fosters a community where people can collaborate, innovate and socialize, which is certainly the way of the future as we spend more and more time at work. Many of the keynote speakers also identified co-working spaces as leading the way in workplace trends.

They also identified new technologies as key drivers of change in the workplace. Augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and apps for productivity and efficiency are changing the way we work and collaborate – and this is only the beginning. This prominence of augmented reality and robots in the workplace in the very near future was a key takeaway for me and reminded me how important it is to keep up with new technologies and to always have our finger on the pulse in the digital world.

There’s no doubt workplaces have evolved over time, but new and advancing technologies are now speeding up that evolution. By strategically incorporating new technologies into the workplaces, they will not only enhance and improve work practices but should also contribute to people’s well-being as we spend our time at work.


View the full case study.

Step inside our workplace designs — WeWork’s first Australian co-working space at 5 Martin Place.

Post Step inside our workplace designs — WeWork’s first Australian co-working space at 5 Martin Place.

We recently collaborated with New York-based co-working business WeWork for the design and fit out of its first Australian co-working space. Located in 5 Martin Place, Sydney, our design is a site-specific response to the distinctive heritage and characteristics of the building, while expressing WeWork’s brand and fostering its community values.
The new workspace is 3700 square metres spread over three floors in 5 Martin Place, Sydney – the former Commonwealth Bank building fondly nicknamed the Money Box. Built in 1916, the original building was recognised as one of Sydney’s most outstanding office towers and were happy to say that the WeWork interior is now an exemplary example of office space today.

WeWork’s guidelines require specific spaces to be included in each workplace with exact standards for each space. However, what they actually looked like was up to our design team. The various spaces needed to feel warm, inviting and lively for members to interact so we designed flexible gathering spaces that feel informal; lounge spaces that function for casual meetings and as places to eat and socialise; and communal pantries that are a hub of activity from the start of the day to the end.

The design takes it cues from the building’s banking history with a rich colour palette of navy blue, deep green and burgundy, and accents of brass and marble. Modern touches of pale pink and bright blue provide contrast and complement WeWork’s global brand aesthetic. The bank teller desks in the building’s lobby inspired the custom-designed hot desks, and the herringbone floors are reminiscent of the building’s original timber flooring. There are custom built-in nooks, phone booths and lighting; and curves and materials, such as brass, velvet and rattan, hark back to the design era of the building’s origins.

WeWork has a community-driven culture with a focus on art and design, so we called on local Sydney artists such as Diego Berjon and Kate Banazi to design murals and collages that embody WeWork’s community spirit. The final result is an exciting co-working space that balances heritage and new elements to create a dynamic atmosphere for WeWork members to work and socialise.


View the full case study.

Take a tour of our design for Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay.

Post Take a tour of our design for Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay.

Rushcutters Bay is one of Sydney’s great harbourside parks where visitors and locals meet, relax and socialise surrounded by Moreton Bay fig trees and yachts moored in the marina. Inspired by this location, our design of the newly refurbished Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay evokes the atmosphere, botanical backdrop and harbourside hues of the neighbouring park.

TFE Hotels engaged us to create a hotel where guests and Sydney locals felt welcome to share a meal on the terrace, enjoy a drink at the bar or pack a Mediterranean-style platter for a picnic in Rushcutters Bay. Seeking to create an environment that makes a positive contribution to its physical location and enlivens the senses of those who experience it, our design team looked to the hotel’s surrounds for inspiration and used botanical elements and Sydney sailing life as the foundation of its design concept and approach throughout the hotel.

All areas of the hotel, including its grand entrance, 258 suites, outdoor terrace, rooftop pool and Storehouse on the Park restaurant evoke the textures, colours and foliage of Rushcutters Bay. An earthy and neutral palette of sandstone and timber is complemented with muted greens, deep blues, rich coloured accents and botanical prints. Lush green plants and trailing vines bring the vibrancy of the park indoors.

The custom bar, beyond the reception and lounge-like seating area, is the heart of the ground floor of the hotel. Surrounded by a variety of comfortable seating zones it has been designed to accommodate a single guest, a group of friends and large events. These spaces flow effortlessly around the bar and include a private dining room, art gallery with all-encompassing sofas, and custom bar seating with views of the park through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Light timber and glass doors open from the bar to Storehouse on the Park. Extending to a terrace and surrounded by trees, the restaurant has a spacious yet intimate terrace-like feel. A classic black and white chequered-tile floor is complemented with rattan dining and lounge chairs, weathered-cement benches and antique-brass floor lamps. Built-in nook seating, communal tables and mesh-framed sofas add a relaxed and casual air to the space. We even designed the custom pendants, including a ceramic and metal lamp for plants with cascading vines.

A rooftop terrace with pool overlooks the park, and botanical-print area rugs, fabric and wallpaper enhance the design story throughout the hotel, forging its strong connection to its setting.


View the full case study.

Art Deco Paradise on Ocean Drive, Miami — Cushla McFadden.

Post Art Deco Paradise on Ocean Drive, Miami — Cushla McFadden.

Ocean Drive in Miami, Florida, is like stepping back in time. The architecture of the 1920s and ‘30s has been preserved and restored in all its Art Deco glory, proving an inspiration for forms, colours and an approach to heritage architecture.

It’s hard to believe now, but what came to be Miami Beach was once a long stretch of swampland. In the 1910s real estate speculator and automobile man Carl Fisher transformed the region into a resort and hotels and mansions soon popped up left, right and centre. Just over a decade, later the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 wiped out the area, and the budding tourist mecca was rebuilt at the height of the Art Deco era.

Art Deco emerged at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1925 as a new expression of modernity. Adopted by the Americans, in the cities Art Deco buildings represented a belief in progress – technology, industry and commerce – while in resort towns it was associated with luxury and leisure. Geometric and symmetrical forms, streamlined curves and horizontal and vertical embellishments dominated, and in Miami, architects embraced nautical and tropical themes to suit the coastal location.

In the 1970s, Barbara Baer Capitman founded the Miami Design Preservation League, a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting the appearance of the district, and after decades of neglect, the buildings were restored to their original glory. South Beach is now home to more than 800 Art Deco buildings and the first twentieth-century neighbourhood to be recognised by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Ocean Drive is one of the main drags in South Beach and it is a pastel-coloured and neon-illuminated spectacle of stepped and curving three-storey hotels. These are a few of my highlights.

McAlpin is one of the most photographed buildings in South Beach and distils the Art Deco style of the area: perfect symmetry, vibrant hues, linear detailing, horizontal and vertical block forms and a central fin. Similarly, the Breakwater has plenty of colour and a towering and angular central façade with the name of the hotel in lights.

The Celino South Beach Hotel was a popular hangout for Hollywood glitterati Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth. It has recently been redeveloped as part of a larger hotel complex but its blue, green and white façade is still a jewel on Ocean Drive.

Other must-sees include the wedding cake-like Beacon Hotel, the neon accents and giant sign of the Colony Hotel and the sweeping outdoor bar of the Clevelander Hotel. The Delano Beach South was once the tallest building in Miami Beach and the restored National Hotel has a grand two-storey lobby and 205-foot long pool.

And don’t miss Gianni Versace’s Villa Casa Casuarina, the 1930s Spanish-style mansion where the designer lived and famously died.





McAplin — Wikipedia

Breakwater — Wikipedia

Celino South Beach Hotel — The Celino Hotel

Colony Hotel — Pinterest

The Delano Beach South — Flickr

48 hours in London — Cushla McFadden.

Post 48 hours in London — Cushla McFadden.

When you only have 48 hours in London (and you fly 24 hours to get there) you have to make the most of it. London is one of the global design capitals; a melting pot of cultures, designers and philosophies that come together in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. The London design scene reminds you to get a bit wild with your ideas, motivates you to push your creative boundaries and inspires you to create spaces that people will travel the world over to experience.

I was in London in February for the World News Interior Awards and although my trip was short and sweet I made sure to schedule a visit to restaurants and retail spaces and an exhibition that have been on my must-see-to-be-believed list.



Sketch, London

9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London


Sketch is an experience like no other. Like stepping into the set of a Wes Anderson film, its whacky interior is full of so much witty inspiration you don’t ever want to leave.

There are five bars, lounges and restaurants in Sketch, but the Gallery is the must-see. Set inside an eighteenth-century Mayfair townhouse, Gallery is a tearoom/restaurant/art gallery designed by Paris-based India Mahdavi with an installation of 239 outré artworks by British artist David Shrigley.

The powder-pink interior is soothing and playful with a 1970s feel. It features pink velvet Charlotte Armchairs by Mahdavi, a multi-coloured chevron floor reminiscent of Missoni fabrics, curvaceous banquettes, pops of copper and light, and all set under a glass dome above. And no detail has been neglected with ceramic tableware with drawings and texts by Shrigley and wait-staff uniforms by fashion designer Richard Nicoll.


Image Sketch London



REDValentino, London

133 Sloane St, Chelsea, London


REDValentino is another stroke of genius by India Mahdavi. This store makes you feel like you’re in interiors heaven. Every detail and surface has been considered, from the upholstered walls to the terrazzo floor, and the peach, brass and chartreuse palette is surprisingly harmonious.

REDValentino has a clean white background with soft pops of colour on the floor, walls, steps and furniture. The white terrazzo flooring is patterned with circles, and the curving walls are covered with salmon pink and mustard yellow velvet panels. Mahdavi’s voluptuous armchairs are covered in dusty pink; brass rails and brass-framed mirrors add glistening detail, and velvet-covered steps bring another dimension to the space.


Image Pinterest



J&M Davidson, London

104 Mount St, Mayfair, London


J&M Davidson is a beautifully detailed store in the heart of Mayfair. It’s easy to miss from the street, but worth seeking out for its stunning design. The pared back and streamlined environment is calming and minimalist with luxuriously upholstered walls and custom joinery.

Universal Design Studio created the new London boutique, which has soft tones and metallic details to express the brand’s signature shapes and colours. The palette of dusty taupe, earthy grey and blushing pink warms the ethereal white interior, while the stone flooring and brushed brass fixtures reflect the timeless and understated nature of the brand. The cantilevered staircase is crafted from solid terrazzo marble with a leather-wrapped handrail and cast-glass plinths and concrete countertops display shoes and handbags. The dressing room is a definite highlight and well worth experiencing: the doorway is framed with brass and the inside lined with plush pink panels.


Image Pinterest



David Hockney (artist)

Hockney Exhibition at Tate Britain in London.

Millbank, Westminster, London


Tate Britain was the last stop on my London itinerary to see the David Hockney retrospective, the largest exhibition ever staged by the museum. Hockney is a popular and influential twentieth-century British artist and the comprehensive exhibition covered six decades of his life.

Hockney’s use of colour is inspirational with greens, purples, pinks and yellows, and the depth perception he creates is intriguing and often challenging. The works include paintings, drawings, prints, photography and video and from London to Los Angeles to Yorkshire he manages to evoke feeling and interest in seemingly bland everyday subjects.


Image Tate Modern



Until next time London.