Sitting Down with talented architect and interior designer Brooke Aitken
Brooke Aitken Design is an architecture and design firm, integrating both to create beautiful spaces. They are one of the few firms in Australia that can build and furnish a project, but the firm also takes on projects not requiring architectural work.
Brooke is a Registered Architect and Interior Designer, and she works with a team of other talented professionals. Brooke and her team specialise in what they’ve dubbed “Soft Modernism,” although they always work to integrate the taste and personality of the client into each element of the project.
When we had the opportunity to speak with Brooke, she said she enjoys clean, minimalist design concepts with an infusion of natural materials. Much of her preferred aesthetic likely stems from the time she spent in Japan, although she also worked on high-profile projects in London during her career. We had the opportunity to learn more about Brooke, and her work and career.
1. When did you first decide to become an interior designer and stylist and how did you get started with your design business and how did you both meet and establish Brooke Aitken Design?
I studied Architecture at University but always wanted to produce interior design with architecture. At the time (the late 80s early 90s) in Australia they were considered quite different practices, and I often felt architects disparaged interior designers as a lesser profession. It was not until I worked in Europe where both practices were commonly fused that I was able to practice both, and when I returned in late 2004 I started my firm with these principles.
2. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Building in Sydney with yearly skyrocketing building costs! Once we get through the architecture build, often we are left with far less budget for interior decorative items than we had hoped.
3. Is there an interior design style you favour and do you have your own design aesthetic?
I am a bower bird and both love and appreciate so many design styles, which means we often take on quite varied projects and don’t have an overriding design style. However, my own personal design aesthetic is very influenced by Japanese design that marries a minimalist base with natural materials.
4. Who are other interior designers you admire?
Anouska Hempel, Andree Putman, Christophe Delcourt, but there are so many in Australia, America and Asia as well.
5. What inspires you?
Travel. Art. Other architects’ and designers’ works. Nature. Clients and a Good Brief. A beautiful piece of furniture of fabric. Really, inspiration comes from living a curious life.
6. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?
Sadly, not all bedrooms are large enough for a beautiful chair - which should be the essential item - so I would have to say a beautiful bed.
7. What key element do we all need for a chic living room?
Good low level warm lighting.
8. Do you have a favourite project or story behind a project?
My favourite project still to date is the first one I created on return to Australia and opening my practice. It was a harbour fronted apartment in Elizabeth Bay for a wonderful couple who needed everything from the kitchen to the art to the furniture.
Completed in 2006, it still is in extremely good shape although is now sold to other owners. They were very trusting and enthusiastic and this project spring boarded the practice after being Shortlisted for a design award. We also were engaged on 5 other projects in the same apartment block for other owners and they all became life-long friends.
Let's get personal .......
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work? My family and travel (and a combination of the two).
2. What is your most treasured belonging? A painting by John Young
3. What's one thing people may not know about you? I started my career studying Medicine…which was extremely short lived!
4. In 10 years I'd like to be .... Able to take holidays when I wanted, have a few overseas clients and to have a well-run homewares line. Nothing like aiming high…!
5. What can't you live without? Red wine. Really, who can’t in this business?
Brooke is a unique designer and architect. Along with continuing to head up her widely-recognized firm founded in 2004, Brooke is hoping to continue to enjoy life’s finer pleasures like art and wine, as well as having the opportunity to take more holidays in between taking on a range of client projects.