Origins - Poppy Bevan Design Studio
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Origins

Childhood

Creative underpinnings

I was born in Paddington Women’s Hospital in 1985 into a family of dichotomies; on the one hand my father’s family were generational English bankers, pharmacists (or in the terminology of the time, apothecaries), and quakers. On the other side my mother’s family were working class Australians – my grandmother 1950s Sydney dressmaker and my grandfather a ___.

 

The first house I ever lived in was in Paddington and in this little village within a big city we were surrounded by a wonderful community. My Godmother Robyn Duffecy lived a couple of streets over in Greens Road and had the most wonderful, timeless, and inviting home – even now I think of her and the lovely spaces she created when daydreaming about beautiful things.

 

Robyn was a fabulous stylist and a lady full of love. She left this earth and her two young children far too young. I remember the feel of her house more than anything else; it felt like an extension of her lovely warmth. She had the most beautiful light, airy kitchen with white painted french doors opening onto a verdant courtyard. Sunlight flooded in through the open doors and washed over the island bench. The counters might have been soft, grey soapstone. The cabinetry was white and the glass paneled upper cabinets reflected the light around the room and added a sparkly mirror-like effect to the space, so that the greenery outside seemed to waft inward too. There must have been a leafy, trailing boston fern draped in the dappled light on the bench, it’s bright green fronds adding a burst of colour to the serene space.

 

Atop the beautiful old timber staircase to the first level sat a piped blue and white striped armchair with turned timber legs and brass feet. In my mind’s eye I see the chair mostly from below – perhaps because of the approach up the stairs, or perhaps because I was so small. One sombre day, after having moved to Terrigal we returned to visit Robyn. Her health had declined and she was resting in the bedroom just around the corner from the blue and white armchair. I realise now that I must have been waiting for mum outside of the bedroom whilst she said goodbye, and that this is why I know the chair so well;I must have looked at it at great length, from within, from behind, looking up from the floorboards – those feet! That lovely crisp stripe ran from the underside of the chair all the way up and over the arms, over the seat and around the back of the chair – and all the way back again. 

 

When I think of Robyn I reflect on what I learnt from her – back then as a tiny person, absorbing the beautiful surroundings that she created, and I’m sure this was not just due to her skills as a designer and stylist but also as the manifestation of her generosity of spirit. Over the years as the process of reflection and the unravelling memories occurs I discover how much of my time near her defined who I was to become.

 

So it was from a very young age I felt a love for design and architecture. After having moved to Terrigal I became interested in buildings as well as what was within them. My idea of weekend enjoyment involved poring over house plans, imagining what those spaces would feel like when the walls lifted up off the pages into the 3rd dimension. On holidays with my siblings I would play resident architect and design my young clients their dream homes. My younger sister once requested a spherical home – and even for me it was almost entirely too complex. In the end we may have had to settle on a cylindrical form due to matters of extreme difficulty in planning (and of course, future construction!). I recall the staircases that curled upward along the inside the edge of the sphere to be especially impossible to resolve.

 

In highschool I loved Visual Art and Languages more than anything else, but also found great fascination in Biology, Psychology, and a hugely rewarding challenge in English – trying to accurately interpret and understand the hidden meanings in every author’s seemingly simple prose. Interestingly the one subject I never felt much allure for was Mathematics, however I put up with it because, after all, we all need to know how to count. I realise now that the thread between all of the seemingly disparate subjects that enthralled me was people – these fields are in fact entirely preoccupied with human expression, understanding the human condition, and interpreting the human mind.

{she} had the most wonderful, timeless, and inviting home - even now I think of her and the lovely spaces she created when daydreaming about beautiful things.

Formative Years

Developing my idea of design

[ edit [ Through my formative years I focused on the arts, language, painting, sketching, expression of ideas. High school involved the completion of the International Baccalaureate achieving a perfect score in Visual Arts. Although pragmatic subjects always followed closely behind giving me the ability to express with boundaries of reality and real world situations. ]

 

When one is creative this tends to become an overriding defining feature in terms of how the world sees you “oh, you’re fantastic at drawing” ,“oh, yes she’s very artistic”, but the reality is that no one is wholly defined by one aspect of their interests or skills and it fascinates and intrigues me that imagination and rationality are posed to be at odds with each other in these societal interpretations of individuality I individually defining features. Life has always been a balance between creativity, intellect and rationalism for me and I knew this well by the time I completed high school. 

Life has always been a balance between creativity, intellect and rationalism.

University

Finding Architecture School

I took a meandering path to architecture school, I first studied languages and then fine art. The somewhat loose nature of these subjects did not fulfill my pragmatic desires.  I always knew that the duality of imagination and pragmatism was crucial to my exploration in life. I needed the boundaries of reality with the expression of art. I came to realise that built works is what I craved.

Throughout architecture school I was always drawn to the ideas and originality of the greats, and have to this day continued to focus on design.

 

During my undergraduate of Architecture I won the Architecture Foundation Parker Travelling Scholarship, (I have since been a member of The Architecture Foundation), that allowed me to further travel and solidify my understanding of one of the greats, Le Corbusier.

 

The knowledge of Australian gold medalist architects, Rick Leplastrier, Peter Stuchberry, Lawrence McNeal, Lindsay Claire, were bestowed upon me and my way of thinking nurtured. 

 

Their understanding of the creative, the joining of the required pragmatics of life with the will to aesthetics grew within me and continues to grow. This allowed me to graduate from the Masters of Architecture with Honors Class I, The Dean of Architecture Medal and as the Masters Graduate of the Year.

How will I incorporate my deeply creative and philosophical ideas into my built works burdened by the realities of the real world client?

Post-University

The end of one path is the start of another

As my time at University came to an end the first female Australian Architecture Gold Medalist Brit Andresen, set forth what would become my professional path forward for the rest of my life.

 

She asked of me;

 

How will I incorporate my deeply creative and philosophical ideas into my built works burdened by the realities of the real world client?

 

This was the moment I realised that perfecting my design skills was only the first part of a process. So far I had excelled at following the contemporary prescribed path to be a great designer but in this moment I realised that this path forward wasn’t enough.

 

I had to look to my influences, my mentors, and see how they saw the world. I knew that properly creating genuinely poetic design outcomes required more than the contemporary way.

 

I needed a creative process of understanding, to bring the beautiful and the aesthetic to the day to day world of my clients, whilst controlling the burden of pragmatics.

 

I wanted to give clients confidence.

I wanted to help them make informed decisions.

I wanted to share my design knowledge.

I wanted to empower clients when making the biggest purchase of their lives.

I wanted to let clients experience the power, the beauty and functionality inherent in design.

 

I realised that properly creating genuinely poetic design outcomes required way more than the contemporary path.

 

I had to concentrate my creative instincts, to strive and develop and not be diluted by the contemporary “world of architects”. I had to remove myself from the day to day world of the contemporary architect, of the Architect Institute of Australia, of the self congratulatory world of modern Australian design and instead focus on bettering myself as a designer, like many of the masters of the past, I have chosen to follow my own road, to create my own processes and ways of approaching designing of built space removed from the shackles of the modern firm architecture, and the “contemporary” approach thrust upon many of my peers. This has allowed me to be guided by the greats of the past  to develop and master my unique Creative Direction and Signature Experience.

I have chosen to follow my own road, to create my own processes and ways of approaching design.