Design & Decoration S01 ep14: Andrew Parr, Parr Interiors, [Melbourne]
Interview with Andrew Parr
People's exposure to hospitality is alot higher today, so they are actually wanting hospitality elements bought back into the office environment, and vice versa back into residential design: that it is not just a home office, but it is also a spot where they actually spend alot of time trying to reinforce their lifestyle as well, so they are actually trying to gain time back.
KM: What is Andrew Parr?
Andrew Parr is half a therapist I think. They have aspirations to deliver
something and I am the interpreter or the facility that uses my supposed
design skill level and interpretation to deliver what they are after as a product.
KM: Why does Andrew Parr do this?
My original passion was architecture and the built environment so that really
comes from I think even if you really go back further, from being a reasonably
shy child, who actually learnt to live through their own imagination. I can see
the difference that design does at a young age...just painting a room in a totally
different colour and the experience of that
An interior designer has developed over the last 20 years, so I suppose my
grounding was in the area of architecture, and I actually like the built form, not
just the applied decoration, so if their is any great bones to architecture I prefer
to use those and keep it.
I think that the architect was actually obsessed with the exterior fabric and the
exterior form, and a lot of the time they were not querying the human user of
that space, so I actually think that the profession of the interiors came back
because they could actually respond and make the spaces work for the
When I first started my profession, I was really was at that point where people
actually did not know what the interiors designers responsibility was, and were
we meant to actually design the form inside, or were we meant to just colour
the walls and apply that layer of carpet and soft furnishings. Commercial firms
such as the original Florence Knowle who was really the creator of the "office"
as an interior designer area and took the modernist roots and designed
furniture that actually went along the same lines as the beautiful modernist
furniture and actually made those space work and comfortable. I think that
took 20 or 30 years for that to come through to commercial interiors all over
KM: What were the thoughts say 15 years ago, compared to today?
The approach to people working it different, the approach to life is different. I
remember the commercial environments that I first started looking at, people
were pretty much in their closed office spaces and it was pretty much about
creating icons for themselves in their office. Their whole
KM: Their personality..
Yeah, it was their prestige, and everything was actually in their office, so over
15 years the significant change in the office, is that there are no offices
KM: How do you differentiate between theatre and interiors?
Firstly it is about creating a unique product that is unique, over and over again.
It is not just a battery hen line of production, so every interior does not look the
same. In hospitality, that idea of theatre was really more about that people
were looking for an experience as they go to a certain restaurant, bar or hotel,
or boutique hotel. In an office space that is happening a little bit as well. I think
people are wanting to have, even in commercial interiors, something that says
something about the organisation, about their aspirations of how they want to
work, and how they want to live. So the whole thing....technology has changed
a lot of that, but also people's exposure to hospitality is a lot higher as well, so
they are actually wanting hospitality elements to go back into the office
environment, and visa versa back into residential design: that it is not just a
home office, but it is also a spot where they actually spend a lot of time trying
to reinforce their lifestyle as well, so they are actually trying to gain time back.
It will appear superficial if the client does not look like the client does not
belong in that space. It is really at the start of the briefing that you say, OK
what really are your aims out of this project. Is it your home, how do you want
to live in something. Is it your restaurant, what do you want to portray yourself
as, what is your direction in that, and how thorough are you in just your market
in there. In an office environment, it is all about the image, and the consistency
then needs to run through. A lot of clients say I have no preconceived ideas
but then they'll start talking about something, so you say well, you do have a
preconceived idea you just don't want to articulate that to me, so it is going to
take a little longer for me to find out who you are and what you are about. The
ones that have been the most favourable are the ones that have almost killed
KM: Do you have to think like a fashion ....
A good hotel foyer, the basis, sure they might re-frock the furniture because of
wear and tear, and update it, but the actual basis of the interior will stay there
forever. Airport interiors or whatever, they stay there for a very long time, so
really it depends on what interior you are talking about. Retail yes, has to be
thrown away in a couple of years, because retail has to be on the edge.
KM: The same with restaurants too?
Yes, some have to too, but some just become mellower and mellower and stay
there for a long time as well.
KM: Where do you go to really bring something in?
It is pretty much like going back to base roots, so it really is about looking at
period things and reinterpretation and just looking at the environment where it
is sitting, the local vernacular of something, I think that is really important.
KM: Why have you identified as being very unique to, or what you can draw
from, that is different in Australia?
It is really about the quality of light for one thing, it is a harsh light so a lot of
spaces need to be semi protected but also there is a yearning for escaping the
sun, so we actually really like dark spots as well, and contrasts in environment
because we actually have such light quality outside. That is why a bar culture
really exists very well, very happily in Australia because sometimes it is about
getting out of the sun.
Even though there is very similar styling across the board, you will see
America will not have it as minimal, say for instance as London will, and we
won’t be as minimal as John Polson either. It will be like, there is an extra
couple of layers of our contemporary design that he won't do, and America will
have another couple of layers..... that if you put them all together you can see
that they are not all from the same culture.
In the 70's ...we have been looking at a whole lot of stuff about glazed ceilings
and doing the really traditional Marion Best style ceiling, you know there are
When I say layers, they are lacquered, which is a really big 30's thing, and it
was really big in the 70's that lacquer ceilings. No one does it anymore, so that
guy hasn't handed on his trade because it wasn't in fashion so it is really hard
to get those sorts of craftsmen.
We are working with some fairly significant architects at the moment but he
issue is about trying to go back a few stages and actually see what we are
actually adding to their project and I think that they are little intimidated at
times, by us.
Yeah, it is still a .... it is like we are nibbling away at their sculpture a bit.
I really wanted to introduce a tree, and the architect said to us, oh you know
trees are just so daggy, if we had done it we would have come up with this just
so amazing sculpture, la la la....and I think yeah, that is why you are the
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Andrew Parr, Parr Interiors, Melbourne