Phoenix takes 5 with… Maria Danos
As part of Phoenix Tapware’s interview series with key designers, architects, builders and plumbers, we take five minutes with Maria Danos, founder of the eponymously named Maria Danos Architecture, to chat about her career, inspiration and current design trends.
Phoenix Tapware: How did you get started in Architecture?
Maria Danos: I see architecture as an artistic expression underpinned by a rational and scientific basis. As I progressed through school and realised my interests in art and science, I embraced architecture as a ‘vocation career’. I did not get into the course immediately and completed a
Bachelor of Science before starting the course at the University of Melbourne. It’s a sophisticated area of study and practice, therefore commencing the course after another degree was in retrospect a good plan for me.
I have a strong interest in observing people and cultural groups as they dwell, work and play.
I am a problem solver and interested in crafting the spaces that enrich the way people do the above.
Henry Street Project. Image by Derek Swalwell
What does a typical day look like for you?
As much as I would love to say ‘sketching all day’ and at the risk of sounding extremely boring, a typical day is filled with strategies to risk manage design outcomes. This entails lots of discussions with authorities and consultants, researching and problem solving.
The best days are when I have programmed to source materials through our excellent local suppliers and makers, explore concepts and investigate details for my projects. As sole practitioner (by choice) and whilst I still have children at school, I program a flexible 7-day week to be present for those important moments that frame their lives too.
What are your favourite types of projects to work on?
Projects where my clients are also strongly engaged in the process, creating a lovely chemistry throughout the process. Also, when there is a great collaborative relationship with the contractor on site to realise an excellent built outcome.
What do you find most rewarding about being an architect?
Good architecture lifts the spirit and has the capacity to accommodate people with thoughtfulness and fairness. The most rewarding thing about being an architect is the opportunity to enrich people’s lives and the wider community through considered built environments.
Mr Robertson Project. Image by Sharyn Cairns
What currently inspires you and your work?
I have a deep respect for cultural and built heritage and conceive my projects responding to context and the narratives and opportunities presented by our clients. With a cultivated approach I draw on breadth of influences, cultural references and sensibilities.
What is your favourite project to date that you have worked on?
All my projects are special with unique built outcomes. Henry Street Townhouses was an opportunity to explore every aspect of design, from investigating sensitive infill urban architecture strategies, interior design- through to the styling of the project. The project was informed by
many shared values with the client, and a strong commitment by the contractor resulting in a successful project delivery.
What are the greatest or most important lessons you have learned along the way in your career?
To really listen. Not to shy away from robust yet respectful discussions. Always be generous. Have fun.
What kinds of trends are you seeing in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries?
Although I do not typically endorse ‘trends’ in design – I am encouraged to observe a greater diversity of expression through colour, materials and texture in these working spaces. Also, a more considered approach to how these spaces engage with other parts of the household to make them work ‘harder’.