Penny Fuller is the founding partner of Silvester Fuller. Penny’s design approach incorporates both concept development and strong design collaboration with every project.
1. How and when did you realise your passion for design and when did you get started in the industry?
Having grown up in a Pettit and Sevitt home in Canberra, I was always interested in the design of spaces, how they connect to one another and the materials used to shape them. My parents individually have two very strong qualities – creativity and rationality. Through this, it was likely the identification and understanding of these two clear, yet separate influences would point me towards architecture.
My first job was working on Aurora Place designed by Italian Architect Renzo Piano where I completed my final year of study early to accept the position. This was an opportunity I was not going to miss. The Aurora Place was a very fortuitous project, I learnt so much and also met my work and life partner Jad Silvester.
2. You and Jad founded Silvester Fuller in 2008. Did you ever expect to see the success that you have?
We are cautiously optimistic people, Jad more so than I. We hope for the best yet plan for the worst. That being said, we established our practice at the beginning of global economic downturn and consequently the first few years were tough. However, we didn’t really know any better and assumed this was just the reality of running your own design practice, which included hard work for little economic reward.
Despite this, we were fortunate to be awarded some great commissions and trusted to deliver them by our clients. We put everything we had into those first projects. These early works were received well, and subsequent project opportunities followed, and since then the studio has steadily grown. However, we still believe our best is ahead of us and we continue to put everything into each project, conscious of the responsibility we have to our clients and the community.
3. What was the motivation for starting Silvester Fuller?
Jad and I were living and working overseas, in separate countries, and had made the decision to return home to Sydney. There are a number of amazing architects practicing here, many who we respect and have since collaborated with on larger projects. Having worked alongside some of the best studios in the world, when we decided to return to Australia, we were only ever going to establish our own studio. We didn’t consider any other options.
4. How would you describe the ethos of Silvester Fuller?
At Silvester Fuller we are passionate about discovering and unlocking the potential of emerging project opportunities. Driven by both investigation and discovery, at Silvester Fuller listening, analysing and responding is key to discovering the ever changing journey of design.
5. Prior to founding the studio you held roles at Foster + Partners in London. Has your overseas experience inspired your current design practice?
Working overseas was an amazing experience. I was fortunate to work on range of interesting projects in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. As the studio gained a global reach this meant that it attracted people from various countries, creating various culturally diverse project teams. This diversity in background, culture and experience brought broader awareness and perspective to each project and is important to the work we produce at Silvester Fuller.
6. Has Covid-19 impacted the way you and your teamwork and design?
At Silvester Fuller we are a collaborative practice; we enjoy being physically together. Prior to 2020 we already put in place measures that gave our team the opportunity to work remotely, so the transition to everyone working from home was relatively easy.
The architectural tasks we undertake across all stages of the design process vary through concept to documentation, and we found that particular stages of a project would determine if remote working would be easier or more difficult to collaborate on.
When drafting early concept design, this process works better when we are physically together, however in some instances for documentation the remoteness can actually be beneficial. This allows someone the ability to focus on documenting a particular work package once the majority of design decisions have been made. Ultimately, at Silvester Fuller we missed the direct social interaction and ease of communication. However, we have grown to appreciate the opportunities remote working provides.
7. What is the best part of your job?
At Silvester Fuller every day is different. There’s always a new challenge and a new opportunity to improve the world we live in, maybe only a small one, but still an opportunity.
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