Wellington senior interior designer, Julia McPherson, has been appointed as an associate of multidisciplinary architectural practice Warren and Mahoney.
A specialist in workplace design, McPherson joined Warren and Mahoney in 2014, and has already worked on high-profile projects such as the heritage Public Trust Building, now occupied by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the newly refurbished Ministry of Education building in Bowen Street, as well as on a complete fitout for lawyers Kensington Swan.
Julia was brought up in Hutt Valley and graduated with a Bachelor of Design degree with honours in spatial design from the School of Creative Arts at Massey University in Wellington.
After graduation, she worked for four years in Wellington before moving to London where she consulted on a major refurbishment of the former BBC headquarters, Bush and Melbourne House in Aldwych.
As a workplace design specialist, Julia says her main interest is in “predicting how people will work in the spaces we design.”
“When people are in a building for eight hours, they are spending most of their awake time at work. In the last couple of years there has been an increased emphasis on wellbeing in the workplace. Our role is to make the workplace more interesting and fun by bringing in elements of surprise, and also to be more functional and tailored to specific activities. That all helps to retain staff.”
McPherson says that with major refurbishments such as the Ministry of Education fit out, the aim is to make the space more flexible to cope with organisational changes and the changing rate of technology.
The refurbishment for Kensington Swan provided an interesting challenge as the offices were originally over three floors, but the law firm challenged the current workplace layout with a solution over two floors providing more flexibility for workplace locations.
“The previous office space had been quite siloed but now it is more open. We designed interior meeting and function rooms, and now staff work around windows. To display their collection of artwork we created a glazed interior room with steel mesh sliders, and attached art to the sliding doors. The gallery room is one of the most popular and well used rooms.”
McPherson says that her appointment as an associate “means I am recognised as a future leader. I am really excited to share my ideas within the practice.”
Ralph Roberts, principal in the Wellington office said that McPherson was a key member of the practice’s rapidly expanding workplace design team. “We are delighted to make Julia an Associate at Warren and Mahoney. She is a very talented designer who has great empathy and understanding of clients’ needs.”