In Conversation With—Richard Archer, Archer Design

At Wyer & Co. it can be said that our best work is often achieved through collaboration with like-minded creatives. Introducing In Conversation With, a novel series highlighting the processes and philosophies of our suppliers, collaborators and industry partners.

This week we sit down with Richard Archer of Archer Design, to discuss the evolution of his practice and creative influences over time as well as our recent collaboration at Point Piper — a project that successfully illustrates how landscape and architecture can work together to establish a language that is truly representative of the Sydney lifestyle.

Q—Thanks for joining us, Richard. Tell us more about Archer Design. How did it all begin?

A—Having a senior role in one of Australia's largest architectural firms in 1998 I realised the next step in my professional and creative journey was to take the leap into self-employment.

From day one I was filled with excitement (and more than a little trepidation) but I knew this was the right move to make, blending my skills as a registered architect and interior designer for (mostly) private residential commissions. I have always been fascinated in the way people live and assisting them in living better and happier lives.

Over 20 years later my excitement remains as strong as ever, every day bringing new design challenges and opportunities to develop the skills my team and I have honed over many years working together.

Q—What is your underlying design philosophy?

A—Achieving design excellence is the base line to all of our thinking at Archer Design.

Though of course I influence and guide our clients through the design process, the outcome is always to create a design that represents them. It is never about imposing my personal taste on to their lifestyle.

Through intense listening, observation and careful interpretation, we strive to design an end result that accurately represents their vision, but achieving a level of resolution far higher than they could have ever anticipated.

Q—What are your most enduring creative influences?

A—My grandfather (born in 1894) was an architect trained in the early 20th Century fine art school tradition. I learnt so much from him about design, colour and proportion and the interrelationship of all the arts in architecture. His was a truly 'classical' education that he then imparted to me. As a very young boy one of my greatest joys was driving around 'looking at houses' with him, absorbing his advice and over time developing my own visual language.

Now, whenever I can, I travel overseas to observe lifestyles, reference historical sources and different methodologies of expressing materiality.

Q—Be it through art, materials or furnishings, the application of colour is often prevalent in your work —what inspires this?

A—In much of our work the floor and wall treatments are in fact often quite neutral. These form a subtle and timeless counterpoint to the fine art and soft furnishings we place within them. We often assist in the ongoing development of our client's art collections over time fo the base palette is intentionally left quite recessive.

Bringing our client's favourite colourations into the visual fabric of their homes is joyously life affirming and we celebrate it in all of our work.

Q—We've worked together across a number of projects now —what do you look for in a collaborative partner?

A—Achieving a seamless balance between interior and exterior spaces is key to understanding and embracing the unique beauty and privilege we all have living in Australia.

Wyer & Co. are fully in-tune with that ethos and whatever the style of the project, I know that the landscape design will be seamlessly aligned with our vision for the home. This is what one seeks in a collaborator: complementary skills with a shared goal in sight.

Q—Our collaboration at Point Piper embraces the relaxed Sydney lifestyle thanks to the generous connection between inside and out. What was your vision for marrying the two spaces?

A—Working closely with Wyer & Co. on the exterior spaces of the marvellous Point Piper home on which we recently collaborated was an immense pleasure. The richness and almost instant density of the 'jungle' planting Anthony specified formed the lush private world into which our client wanted to retreat.

In this substantial, contemporary styled harbour-side home, the outdoor spaces impact on the interiors as much as the reverse is true so it was imperative that the design for each zone was seamlessly integrated. I knew that the landscaping was in safe hands allowing my team and I to really focus on the architecture and interiors, creating a luxurious world within a garden that is now bringing our clients great joy.

Q—What's next for Archer Design?

A—As well as working with Wyer & Co. on another large private residential commission (this one in a very different style to the Point Piper home), we are excited to be engaged in the extensive upgrade of a large multi-level corporate building, several new private residential commissions and hopefully a bit of international travel... sometime soon?