Phil Darwen : The Man behind @adesignersmind
We love Instagram, and like most of us we probably spend way too much time on there. But, when you start to think about it, insta is a great place to learn and be inspired. A great many artists, musicians, fitness gurus and designers share a wealth of knowledge and amazing imagery every day. An account we have long admired is that of Phil Darwen (@adesignersmind). Phil is an architect who, like most of us, joined Instagram one day and started sharing some things he liked. Unlike most of us, he quickly became a phenomenon on the platform and has to date 1.3M followers. We plucked up the courage to ask him if he would answer a few of our questions. Being a great and friendly guy he obliged. Here is what he had to say….
TBG: Who is Phil Darwen?
Phil: Who is anybody really? Well, I’m a family man from the Sunshine Coast. I enjoy the beach and the great outdoors. I’m a voracious reader. I enjoy the simpler things in life…good food, good music, good friends…the work/life balance is important to me not just from the family perspective, but because I’ve seen too many people miss out on life because they were too busy working for what they perceived as happiness.
TBG: What do you do when you’re not A Designers Mind?
Phil: I’m a building/interior/landscape designer. A jack of all trades when it comes to design, as I like to present the complete lifestyle package to clients.
TBG: What initially inspired you to create A Designers Mind?
Phil: It kind of happened by accident. I started off with Instagram much like everyone else…a few personal pics and images of projects I had done. I then started posting images of architecture and interiors that I admired and gained inspiration from. It has just organically grown from there into the following I have now.
TBG: You were one of the first big architecture/design Instagram accounts. How has the way you use Instagram changed over the last 5 years?
Phil: It’s been interesting to watch the way Instagram has matured over the years. It has taken on a lot more of the social interactions aspects of other apps like Snap Chat to give you things like Live Video Feeds, Stories, etc.
I like the way you can interact with your followers (and they with you) a lot easier than early on.
TBG: What are 2 tips for using Instagram you’d give to designers/architects?
Phil: That’s a bit of a difficult one because so many design professionals are exploring the benefits of social media to increase their business. I think the best tips though would be to edit your feed to keep the images of high quality so that it really showcases who you are and what your design aesthetic is, and the second tip would be to use relevant hashtags to make sure your feed is searchable.
TBG: Can you tell us about some of the design projects you’re personally currently working on?
Phil: I’ve just finished a display home for a local builder up here on the coast. It’s been amazing to work on as I got to design the house, the landscaping and the interiors.
I’m also working on a row of seven terrace homes which are kind of a new fad for the Coast. It’s that narrow-lot concept that makes the design of the interiors so important from a lifestyle point of view.
Also working on a bit of a top secret project at the moment. You’ll have to stay tuned to my feed to find out more when the time comes!
TBG: Describe your creative process. What are your major steps?
Phil: First things first, the design brief and client conversation. This is where you get a feel for the clients motivations and lifestyle requirements. I’m a pretty good listener so I tend to get the initial design about 90% right the first time and then there is design development from there. I was always able to articulate a clients “wants” into a design that was both practical and functional.
As part of design development comes the details. It’s those little things that make the difference between a standard project-style home and a bespoke lifestyle residence. Items like the kitchen and bathrooms, built-in cabinetry, etc, need to be considered as just as important because it’s the complete package that makes the design.
Throughout the entire process though, I’m sketching and drawing and sourcing inspiration. You never stop learning your craft and there is always different ways of looking at things.
TBG: What’s the most played song on your playlist over the last 3 months?
Phil: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N by Noah & The Whale. The whole album is pretty good but this song stands out for me.
TBG: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
Phil: I’d say I’m a gatherer. I like to surround myself with family, good friends, good times and good design. If you don’t do that then really, what’s the point 😉
All imagery courtesy of Phil Darwen, featuring his projects.
Check out Phil’s instagram account here.
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