See how our unique approach offers multi-dimensional solutions
Sustainable, responsive designs that enhance business disciplines and living environments.
A design incubator, we produce winning ideas that lift the built environment of the world’s most dynamic cities.
Our collaborative approach and comprehensive consultation process means we respond to your requirements – resulting in an optimum design solution. Detailed planning, technical excellence, and completion to schedule and budget are all part of our proven methodology.
With offices in Wellington and Auckland, Studio Design + Architecture is a multidisciplinary creative powerhouse that designs inspiring spaces and places that really work across the Asia-Pacific region.
SD+A was founded by Michael O’Brien, our principal architect, and Niki Harrison, our principal designer as a practice committed to deep collaboration with clients, progressive design approaches and a wide-ranging creative synthesis of ideas, brought to life through smart technology.
We work across the full scope of design and architectural practice, from high-end residential and luxury hospitality, to commercial, workplace, healthcare and project master-planning. Our specialisation lies in being able to translate the needs of a wide range of stakeholders into outstanding buildings and interiors that eloquently answer the commercial, social and human demands put upon them.
Sustainability has long been built into our ethos, at all scales and budgets. As active members of the New Zealand and Australian Green Building Councils, with in-house Green Star accredited professionals, we know how to work with clients and consultant teams to integrate sustainable design without compromising budgets.
At heart, Studio Design + Architecture is a passionate, hands-on team of designers and architects. We love to make responsive spaces that perform commercially, empower and inspire everyone who lives, works and plays in them, and add significance and beauty to the built and natural environments.
For Niki Harrison design is all about how people feel in a space. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a factory, a house, a restaurant, a workplace, or a hospital – it’s our job to make those spaces work well and feel good.”
Born in New Zealand and partly schooled in Singapore, Niki cut her design teeth in London working for the famed interior designer, David Hicks who is considered to be among the foremost interior designers of the 20th century. Having worked on large-scale luxury manors, apartments and hotels, she moved to Australia, creating workspaces for the likes of Chanel and the Royal Bank of Scotland and designing the Walt Disney studios in Sydney. After designing the Auckland Hilton from Sydney she transferred to New Zealand and subsequently bought the local arm of the design company she was working for, which saw the beginning of Studio Design + Architecture.
“We’re doing crossover work all the time now,” says Niki. “With office environments, for example, we use our hospitality design knowledge. We’ll create hangout spaces that are more like you’d see in a cool cafe. The idea is to give people a sense of fun and joy about the space they’re in and then they start to feel a level of ownership.” “All our designs are human-centred,” says Niki. “It’s about understanding people’s reactions, people’s needs – and what makes people feel good and what works.”
Having led dozens of major projects to completion, both here and across the Americas and Asia-Pacific region, Michael O’Brien knows what makes for a successful project. A clear understanding from the outset between the client and architect of the project’s goals is key – as is trust and communication during the build stage.
And good communication doesn’t mean saying everything all at once, he adds. For example proper construction documentation shouldn’t thoroughly depict every element of the design, says Michael – that would never be practical. Which means that a reasonable number of questions from the contractor should always be expected. “These are not errors or omissions and it’s a reason to keep communication open between the client, contractor and the architect all the way through.”
The final key to success? For Michael it’s a strong idea that starts at the design stage and is carried through into the build. Which is something that Studio Design + Architecture is well set up to deliver.
“The founding concept needs to be expressed in both the architecture and interior at a macro and micro level. For our architects, having a close working relationship with the Design Studio allows that rigour to permeate all our projects.”
Contemporary housing projects need to be socially, environmentally and commercially sustainable. Increasingly, it is critical that the project integrates with public transport and bicycle networks and considers the neighbouring building fabric. At the same time, new developments need to create a vibrant and unique character, creating communities that are inclusive and accessible.
Studio Design + Architecture’s team have a wealth of experience designing sustainable, site-responsive and award winning residential housing solutions. Our experience includes masterplans and feasilbility studies for new developments, the design of multiple single, and multi-dwelling, high rise, mixed-use residential, large scale, subdivisions and affordable developments
Residential design is a more personal experience than public architecture and design and involves much client consultation and attention to detail. An excellent understanding of available finishes, furniture and fittings to be specified by our team is a big part of what we do. We are first and foremost designers and having worked in the commercial and hospitality industries we understand the detailing required to achieve the best result and the cost implications of our schemes.
Our designs range from beach houses, to Official Residences for New Zealand government, to multi residential projects. Our multi residential architecture ranges from high end apartments through to three star cost and quality designs. It is all a matter of understanding the client brief and budget and providing the best design to meet both of these requirements. Extending value and making clients love living in their residences is our aim.
Hospitality design is first and foremost about understanding and creating a guest experience. In response, our designs create destinations. Where people choose to eat, relax, or to rest their heads. Whether it be in their leisure time, on business or on holiday, our architects and interior designers use their creativity, understanding of brand integration and experience to design environments that provide pleasure, comfort and delivery within clients budgets.
Our Studio Design + Architecture’s team understand the hospitality business requires exclusive and unique design skills to deliver exceptional facilities. Our team are leaders in the design of hospitality projects, both locally and internationally, having completed numerous concepts and fitouts for boutique hotels, major hotel chains, restaurants, bars, casinos and resorts. Our approach to designing for this sector is to create environments that position our clients at the forefront of the hospitality industry, with a focus on balancing aesthetics, durability, atmosphere and value with a firm understanding of commercial requirements.
Customer experience workshops are facilitated by Studio Design + Architecture. Associated information is collected and collated with the user experience clearly a priority. Innovative space planning techniques are applied to generate adjacencies and develop flow cognisance. Space analysis plans and options are investigated within selected floorplates and outcomes are identified and prioritized.
There are a number of practical implications usually arising from the findings, not the least being the need for clients to consider the appropriateness of the base building design and to realise property cost efficiencies associated with this.
Approved sign off on briefing drawings is undertaken by the client at each stage
Thereafter planning, programing and budgeting strategies are implemented to complete the project on time.
Procurement plays an equally important role. Our designer’s knowledge of OSH compliance and the selection of furniture supporting select workstyles form a large part of the new workplace. For example, focus areas where furniture supports views to the outside and shields distractions; or activation zones with standing height tables to encourage movement and stimulate the brain. There are many different options available from a myriad of suppliers, all with different quality, styles, budgets and lead times.
Health and Aged Care
We believe good design is good business. Our design studios specialize in translating stakeholder input into the built form, acknowledging that stakeholders have infinitely valuable input and know what they need to achieve with their business or facility. A collaborative approach and comprehensive consultation process allows us to listen and respond to requirements, commercial environments, and technical processes and practices resulting in the optimum design solution. Healthcare and Aged Care design is first and foremost about understanding and creating a positive and stimulating experience whilst an environment that is reassuring, comfortable and manageable.
Our Studio Design + Architecture team understand Healthcare and Aged Care projects require exclusive and unique design skills to deliver exceptional facilities. Our team have worked both locally and internationally on healthcare projects in their careers and bring this knowledge and experience to Studio Design + Architecture. We approach Healthcare and Aged Care design through our knowledge of hospitality, residential, and workplace design and architecture. Our integrated design experience gives us an understanding of users, operational design and services design to bring this crossover of skills and knowledge to Healthcare and Aged Care Projects.