Friday, January 14, 2011

Interview...Virginia of Blue Fruit



I am was so excited when I found Virginia Blue of Blue Fruit while researching Interior Designers outside of the US. I was fixated on her architectural style and unique ways of using products inside and out.
Virginia is located in Melbourne Australia, she has worked for a few large architectural firms there and has done some work in London. In 2004, she decided to embark on her own journey with Blue Fruit. Her design intent reflects the user's needs and personality, maintains a complimentary relation to the landscape of each site, and each project has a distinct style of its own.

To get more info about Virginia and Blue Fruit, you can read her blog, follow her on twitter, and visit her website.

When and how did you know you wanted to be a designer?

It’s funny - it took me a long time to realize the obvious. Because when I was a small child I would spend hours building Lego cities with glass corner skyscrapers, then add lift-up winch bridges and Ferris Wheels that actually turned, all made from Meccano. And I used to spend my school holidays sketching buildings. But when I left school, I wasn’t really sure what to be - so I ended up studying a Bachelor of Arts of Communication Studies - with a major in computer programming. After a few years of working as a trainer in personnel, a couple of my good friends said “Virginia, all you ever talk about are buildings, so why don’t you go back to uni and study architecture and then we can all talk about something else sometimes.” It was a light-bulb moment!

How would you describe your style? And how has this style developed over time?

My style is hard to define because I tend to feed off the particular aspects of a project for inspiration. If it’s residential, I try to work out my client’s personality, then apply it to their lifestyle & their history as well as the topography of the building site. If it is a commercial project, I tend to focus on where the future is headed, and try to build in some flexibility. But if I had to define my style in a nutshell, I would say “eclectic, bold & always with a touch of humor”. I guess over time I have got a lot more confident in pushing a client almost to the edge of their comfort zone - after all, it’s what they pay us for!

Mood board for current project

What are some of your recent projects?

A city real estate agency that had a mix of antiques and 60’s furniture; a mid century modern beach house addition & reno; a fabulous new self-sufficient home for an aged couple in their 80s + the tiniest bathroom I have ever designed!

New self-sufficient home for an aged couple.

1980's home remodel, see more here.

What would be your dream project?

The fit-out of a yacht.

What is the biggest design challenge you've faced?

I was given 6 weeks to concept design an 11 story building housing 22 law courts. That was scary! It took a further 2 years to complete the detail design and construction drawings.

Roma Mitchell Law Courts, Adelaide

What are you most proud of professionally?

Probably the law courts building or maybe it’s the fact that I have been lucky enough to have designed such a variety of projects - from department stores, jails, railway stations, hospitals, universities to apartment blocks. But the most humbling thing is designing a house for somebody - it is their very most private aspect and it is always an honor to be trusted with this.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I never know what the day will hold! Working on plans & elevations, perhaps designing the joinery for a kitchen, or sourcing materials. Then I may get a phone call from one of my builders saying “What do you want me to do about this or that - can you just come and have a look?” So often I end up on site making decisions as the building progresses. That is my favorite bit!

Which designers, artists or creative people do you look up to or are inspired by?

2 of my uni professors were great mentors - one taught history of architecture which is my building block of reference - and the other taught me the importance of designing for people, not just for great spaces, in architecture.

Where do you find inspiration?

Traveling is the best source of inspiration because it forces you to change your perspective constantly. But like all designers, I see inspiration everywhere - in fashion, in a butterfly’s wings, on the street or at the beach - I never stop looking.

I love this picture from Grand Central Station, because I was so earnestly pointing to the ceiling and explaining to my {long suffering but patient} husband about how good the restoration project was, that a tv camera crew spotted me just after this shot was taken to interview me about the LED lights that have just been installed. What a hoot! And it meant that my husband didn't have to listen to the details - but could happily let the journalist do the listening. (This happened last month, when we went to NYC for our wedding anniversary dinner.)

What are your favorite design trends?

Mixing not matching {thank goodness it is back in fashion - I think it is how every designer prefers to work}; using more natural products that have less toxins in their manufacture and lifespan; and individual, hand-made items mixed with treasures from the past.



Mid century modern 1950s house renovation.

What's the one spot in your house that makes you most happy or proud?

Every house needs a “wow factor” spot. In my current home, it is the framed view from the massive living room windows, onto a garden of eucalyptus trees and wild birds flying about.

My own living room - I love to embrace the existing style of a building with the interior styling. This is a1972 post and beam ranch house - so when I found some 1880s orange velvet sofas, I had to buy them

What advice I would give someone designing a new home?

Learn to completely trust your designer - the more carte blanche the brief, the more perfect and individual will be the resulting building.

Bathroom with marinace granite

What is your favorite song?

Is you or ain't you my baby?” - the remix version of Dinah Washington’s classic by Rae & Christian. Particularly good with a good martini.

What are your plans on a typical Saturday morning?

We always have pancakes or waffles for breakfast on Saturdays - so if I am lucky I can persuade one of the family to cook it instead of me! A spot of gardening in the veggie patch, then a quick read of the papers. The rest of the morning mostly disappears in the delirious misconception that I have a whole lovely weekend to enjoy - before realizing that it simply disappears all too fast!

Thank you so much Virginia for being such an inspiring person, fabulous designer, and for this lovely interview!

1 comment:

Virginia Blue - Director Blue Fruit said...

Kristin, thank you for the lovely kind words about me! It was such fun to do the interview - you ask fabulously quirky questions. You have a great blog and I hope lots more people stumble across it because it is well worth following!

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