In honour of Valentine’s Day, we asked architect and designer couples like Neri & Hu, Scott & Scott and Jakob + MacFarlane how they stay together – in work and in love.
Daniel To and Emma Aiston of Daniel Emma
“We met at university while studying industrial design in Adelaide. We did one project together and didn’t enjoy the process at all – and we vowed never to work together again. After university, we worked for a couple of years in London, where [Daniel] did an internship with Harry Richardson and Clare Page [at art-based design studio Committee]. They’re a couple as well, and [Daniel] learned a lot from them about how to collaborate.
The way we work now, the designs, the process – our whole life, actually – it’s all a collaboration. Our combined experiences are what make our point of view and our designs unique. Individually, we’re probably just average designers
Projects only go ahead if we both like them. We’re quite good at being honest with each other, so we can happily say if something’s shit.”
Glenn Pushelberg and George Yabu of Yabu Pushelberg
“When you’re with your partner nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for over 30 years, you develop a genuine understanding of one another and of how the other thinks. You are in sync with that person, making the process of designing together much more immediate and complete – and obviously much more satisfying.”
David and Susan Scott of Scott & Scott Architects
Susan: “We don’t actually see each other very often. A lot of people ask, ‘How can you work with your husband?’ but yesterday, I don’t think I saw him until 7 at night. It’s not very often that we’re both in the studio just drawing … During the day it’s more one of us is at a job site … or waiting in a long line at city hall or going to a supplier. It’s actually worked out well for us as a practice and as a couple.”
David: “We work together every night. We put the kids to bed and then we work from 8 until 11:30 or so. That may be where more collaboration happens.”
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Neri & Hu
“It would be difficult to see each other because the hours are long and the job requirements demanding, so architects can really only survive if they work together. One of us is full of ideas while the other is very critical: this balance ensures our concepts are refined. People wonder how we’ve made it happen but working together has actually strengthened our relationship. We know that the other doesn’t have an agenda and trust that their opinion is for the best of the practice.”
Andre D’Elia and Meg Graham of Superkul
“We share professional and personal values, but are also quite different, complementary people. If it was two of me, or two of him it wouldn’t work. We challenge and edit each other, allowing us to more quickly get to the essence of the projects we do. Underlying it all, we have a profound trust in each other that allows us to focus on the work and our kids, and not the minutiae of our relationship. We challenge and support each other. And, we make each other laugh. It’s no more complicated than that.”
Brendan MacFarlane and Dominique Jakob of Jakob + MacFarlane
“It can be challenging for an office when there are two different sensibilities offering different options; logistically, sometimes a client doesn’t know who to go to. However, two ways of seeing the same thing enriches the dialogue and outcome. Ideas are constantly happening and you develop a non-verbal way of working and thinking, a kind of synchronicity. A couple is similar to the client-architect relationship: it’s stimulating and vital.”