The Tasmanian women making waves in the built environment: Claire Ferri, Bury Kirkland Ferri
Hobart’s leading interior design studio Burk Kirkland Ferri, was established in 2017 after a partnership formed between Claire Ferri and the former Bury and Kirkland (est.2002) after having successfully consulted as an interior designer for the practice. The reigns now sit in Director and Principal Designer Claire Ferri’s lap after having taken sole ownership of the thriving studio in 2019. Claire has led charge on some of Hobart’s most iconic hospitality and residential interiors, including the award-winning Tailored Tasmania Pod house featured on Grand Designs Australia, Ettie’s, Fondru’s, The Whaler and most recently the Spring Bay Mill in Triabunna. Without prescribing to a specific design aesthetic, Claire’s designs are developed through exploring the inner workings of her client’s minds, often creating a masterpiece of work without the client having a clear awareness of, or words to express their personal tastes, but the result is precisely what they wanted – and more. Playing with textures, natural and local materials, Claire’s designs are intended to be deeply loved and made for longevity.
- What has been one of your favourite projects to be a part of?
So many to choose! But one particularly interesting design project in recent times would be the redevelopment of the Spring Bay Mill in Triabunna on the East Coast. The entire site including all of the old industrial buildings have been reimagined and converted into a state-of-the-art events venue. The site is now home to multiple multifunction spaces for hosting performances, community events, seminars, parties, music events or weddings… There’s an amphitheater, greenhouses for growing fresh produce and running horticultural classes, as well as on site accommodation and glamping. The site is 43 hectares with some incredible waterfront views. The whole ethos for the project’s development was based around the idea of sustainability, community, longevity, repurposing, care for the environment and the principles of biophilia. So it was really interesting to delve deeper into these concepts whilst developing the interior designs. I was involved in the project from early on and worked on the main reception and hospitality venue, the Banksia Room, the Tin Shed performance space and Glamping fit-outs. Being a very large-scale public space project there was a large team of collaborators on this, so that was also a new and interesting way for me to work, as for the most part, I generally work independently.
2. What can people expect from the work you do as an interior designer?
My designs are developed through a close listening and response to the client’s needs, dreams, specifics of the given site and its intended use for the inhabitants. Whether for a hospitality venue, commercial space, medical practice or private home, it’s about drawing out a really great outcome for the client whilst working within the given parameters or challenges of the specific site, timeframe or budget. My work is not based on replication of a signature style as such but a commitment to create beautiful, functional, authentic spaces which speak of individuality, people and place and truly reflect my clients design intent. I would say my design aesthetic is one that is highly tailored with a strong emphasis on detailing, texture and materiality, colour, tonal shifts and play on contrasts, light and shade, boldness with calm. Something a little unexpected and unique to create interest. With especially careful consideration given to spacial planning, movement and flow. It is not about stamping a signature mark but cultivating spaces which invite the user to interact and engage with their surrounds, whether this be for work, socialising, rest, play or everyday life.
3. What is one of your proudest achievements in your field?
Everything! I am so passionate about design and the positive influence that well considered design can have on our lives and how we feel. I think myself very fortunate that I get to do what I love every day for a living and I am very proud of being an independent owner, director and principal designer of my own business. Of course, acknowledgements of my work are great but it’s all the moments in between. When I hear a client tell me that they feel their home is now ‘so them’ even though they had no idea what that even meant in the beginning of our journey, that makes me so unbelievably happy. Or those moments when sitting in a hospitality venue that I’ve designed and listening to people chattering around me, experiencing and discovering the space for the first time. Just sitting back and watching how people are interacting with the design or overhearing them talk amongst themselves about how much they love being there or excitedly pointing out things to each other, that’s always a pretty special and proud moment for me.
4. Is there a message or story you would like to have conveyed from your work?
I guess my message would be one of care and attention. That it’s not necessarily about the amount of money spent but rather how it is spent. Careful considerations, distilling of ideas, editing and refinement. It is not only the selections and choices of what is included that are important to the outcome, but even more so, what is left out which achieves balance and fluidity within a design. For me it’s about designing with passion, honesty, creativity and integrity every time.
5. Is there another female in your industry that has inspired you?
Absolutely hands down it would be Pascale Gomes-McNabb. She was a big inspiration to me from early on, I totally connect with her aesthetic and love her individuality. Her work has a strong presence which resonates with me. I feel like she is unapologetically herself through her designs and you can see the passion in her work. There are many talented women producing really great work in the industry but her designs are something special.
6. What makes Tasmania the right place for you to pursue your passion as an interior designer?
I love Hobart and am honoured that I get to play a part in the rejuvenation and reinventing of spaces within this city’s buildings. Having a role in the continuation of their story, the history, like uncovered secrets or hidden gems laying dormant and being a part of their reimagining, the next chapter of their story to come. Tasmania is such a beautiful place, we are so very lucky to have these pristine environments around us, fresh crisp air, crystal clear waters, deep cool forests and quiet mountains. You can be in the city at a restaurant eating a meal made from amazing local produce or chilling at a bar then within half an hour be jumping into the waves at the beach. Everything is just so easily within reach. I think the fact that we’re an island is pretty special, maybe it has helped grow a different kind of creativity, thinking outside the box, not feeling the need to subscribe to a certain rule or trend. Our hospitality scene has grown so incredibly over the past 5 years, along with our reputation in general as a destination with so many great things to offer, arts, music, wine, food, culture. This little island state used to cop a bit of flack as being the lesser sibling to the mainland states, but those wheels have definitely turned, and I am so excited to be a part of the creativity blooming here.
7. What does the future of the interior design industry look like in Tasmania?
Strong…we’ll continue to do it our way.
8. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge- Choosing to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and celebrating women’s achievement to help create a more inclusive world. In your industry- what would you choose to challenge?
Working in the interior design industry, I feel there is a pretty even ratio of male to female professional contributors so in that respect I guess lucky to have balance on our side of the fence, as opposed to other career pathways. As an interior designer the next stage in the cycle for us/our clients once our design and documentation process is complete, is the physical fabrication and construction of those designs, the birthing into reality. In my experience with builders and trades you do not really come across a lot of women working in those areas. Off the top of my head, right this moment I am struggling to recall more than one. I am sure there would be plenty of women out there who would not only love but thrive on this type of multitasking, technical, physical, hands-on, problem solving work, it surprises me to see so few. I think as a society we need to challenge the view that the construction industry is ‘men’s work’ and to encourage women interested in that line of career to go for it. I am positive this currently male-centric field would benefit greatly from female inclusion and perspective.
9. What do you think can be done to help elevate female voices in the interior design industry?
I think good design speaks for itself, and actions speak louder than words…keep creating great work and it will not go unnoticed! I believe as females it is really important to raise each other up. If you see great work don’t just sit back and admire from afar, be sure to let that person know that’s how you feel about it. Choose to be the giver of praise where it is due, to show support over viewing each other as competition.
10. What advice would you give young girls/women interested in interior design?
It is not an easy field to get into, in terms of real-world employment. Study hard, but study harder what is around you. Seek the knowledge out, be a sponge, use your eyes. Learn to look and critically analyse. If you are in a restaurant, a bar, someone’s home and it feels great, why does it? Likewise, for if something feels off. Train yourself to notice the world around you and what makes a great design tick. Never stop being thirsty to learn. Bring your passion, leave your ego at the door, design with integrity.
11. What three words define your work/business?
Passion. Creativity. Detail.
12. How can our readers support you/your business?