5 Minutes with Futurespace
21 April 2020
5 Minutes with Angela Ferguson
Futurespace, based in Sydney, is a cutting edge interior design and architectural agency leading the way in creating the future spaces in which people will work, learn and live.
The physical spaces designed and created by Futurespace are future-focused, intelligent and practical in order to enhance people’s lives and businesses.
Angela Ferguson is an award winning businesswoman and co-owner of Futurespace. For more than two decades Angela has worked with significant global and Australian businesses to develop design strategies that directly relate to a specific business, to drive innovative design solutions and to develop responsive accommodation results. Her clients include some of the most recognised names in the world such as Google, Qantas, PwC and Volkswagen.
We sat down with Angela to discuss all things design, furniture, workplace and the future of industry post Covid-19.
View Angela’s top 12 pieces from our collection here.
How would you describe the Futurespace aesthetic?
We aren’t really known for a particular aesthetic or style; we don’t have a house ‘look’. We design for a client’s brand and culture and so will use this to create an authentic design response. There are some things we do consistently though, such as ensure that all the elements of a workplace are multi-faceted, with more than one use or purpose. So a stair is about getting from floor to floor, but it is also a meeting place, a presentation space, an informal workspace and a collaboration space – much like the stair we designed for PwC Barangaroo in Sydney.
What inspires your designs?
All of our designers at Futurespace find inspiration in different ways, but for me its about people. I get a lot of energy and inspiration from understanding what people are looking for in an environment – individually, professionally and socially – and so this inspires how a physical response will come together for them. I’m also inspired by things like art, music, film, travel and other cities and cultures – however much of this is not on offer right now, for obvious reasons!
Can you give us a little insight into your design process?
That is a very timely question. I am almost halfway through a PhD at RMIT School of Architecture and Urban Design in Melbourne. The course of study is about reflecting on my personal practice over the last 20+ years, and it has been a revelation to me that much of what I do, as a designer, starts with writing. In addition, a lot of my career has been about being involved in the A+D industry as a whole, making a contribution through public speaking, interviewing other designers and writing about their projects, participating in judging awards and more. Taking action is a big part of my process, and at one point I had a blog called The Design Activist. For me design is about creating a better world, so this sense of purpose informs everything I create.
What excites you most about the workplace industry?
It is always changing! Especially now – there are so many questions about what the future of work will look like. I also like designing and creating workplaces because they are one of the areas that most need our care and attention; if people spend a significant part of their lives at work, up to a third of their lives in fact, then the design of our workplaces should be centred around people and their humanity. Our motto at Futurespace is that ‘people are the product of their environment’ and the workplace is therefore one of the most important (and interesting) places we can create.
How do you think Covid-19 will affect the future of workplace design?
In every possible way. This is perhaps one of the greatest social experiments of our time and its going to be incredibly interesting to see what the next 4-6 months brings. The way we work will fundamentally change, and so the spaces in which we work will need to support that change.
What will Covid-19 will teach us about the way we work? What are some things you think we should change or keep about the way we used to work?
Everything about work is now ‘up for grabs’ in terms of being redesigned and rethought. I’d like to see the social side of work given more priority and attention, and for there to be a bigger spread of consciousness and prioritisation of health and wellbeing. Less stress, a slower pace of life, more intimate connections with our colleagues … these are all things I’d like to see more of, which will in turn have an effect on the spaces where we will (eventually) come back together to work in.
How is the Futurespace team adapting to the WFH lifestyle?
Our team has been amazing – I’ve been so impressed with how quickly everyone has adapted. We made the call to take up 100% WFH, and a week later we were all up and running. We’ve been working remotely for many years now, on projects in Australia, Asia and NZ from our two studios in Melbourne and Sydney. During that time we trialled and tested a lot of different systems, behaviours and software so I think that also contributed to us seamlessly all being able to work from home. In addition, we made sure that a lot of the cultural acitivites didn’t fall away just because we weren’t physically together, and prioritising our connections with each other has been key to making sure everyone is coping well.
What are some things businesses can do to keep their teams connected through isolation?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is that not everyone thinks like me! So something I might think is obvious, or a given, may in fact not be so obvious to everyone else. There’s a way of doing this of course where you don’t treat people like they are fools, but making sure communication is clear, open, authentic – and includes listening – is critical. Pretty much any activity can be done virtually and prioritsing things like virtual ‘drinks’, lunches, exercise classes and informal get togethers is more important than ever. I’ve even heard of one team playing Pictionary together via Zoom.
What’s your favourite international city and why?
I am dreaming of travel so much right now! I have such a soft spot for Italy, especially Florence and Venice. The food, fashion, architecture, design, people … *sigh*
Favourite fashion brand?
Allessandro Michele’s Gucci.
Most treasured piece of furniture you own?
My Egg Chair and Footstool by Fritz Hansen. My husband gave it to me on the occasion of our son’s birth – it was something I’d had on my wishlist forever, and it was such a surprise. I’ve been to the factory in Denmark where they make them from the original 1960’s moulds, and so this item has so much meaning for me. It will last forever and be a family heirloom.
Image by Toby Peet.
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