Geyer on Bringing Future-Proofed Workplaces


Geyer has been focusing on interior design that embodies how people will use and manage spaces. The Asia Pacific company takes the knowledge and design skills of its trained designers to perform problem solving in the interior design sector, which is now so important in workplace design. We talked to their new CEO, Wendy Geitz, about their visions.

PHOTOS BY Owen Raggett, Joel Barbitta and Geyer Design Doc.

Please tell us about the office history briefly - from the kitchen table to the five offices.

Geyer began life in Melbourne, Australia over 40 years ago pioneering a genuine focus on our clients, their deep-seated needs and how working together could create much more purposeful elegant spaces. This design thinking approach has remained at the core of Geyer, which now has five award-winning studios spanning the Asia Pacific region. 2018 marks a wonderful milestone of 10 years in Singapore and Asia.

We are now a diverse group of over 100 talented designers and strategists from many walks of life and experience. We work across many sectors with great bench strength in workplace, retail, hospitality and education. This diversity is critical to solving the more complex problems of today.

What kind of project do you think is your strongest point?

Any project where the client really wants to get to the heart of the extraordinary opportunity they have in front of them. The tangibility of physical space is a stunning and impactful tool in any organisation’s armoury to not only bring people together but to drive culture and connect companies to their people and customers. Supporting this upfront exploration takes a little bravery and belief, but it will reap enormous rewards.

In terms of sectors, Geyer specialises in workplace, retail, hospitality and education environments. This is what makes us great at those projects, which blur the boundaries between sectors. More and more, there are benefits from bringing in cross sector learnings and intel to optimise environments of all kinds. Synthesising learning environment influences into the workplace from our education experience? It makes sense. Implementing innovation and entrepreneurship themes into education spaces to nurture our future leaders? Absolutely.

Geyer has respected expertise and outstanding results in future-proofed workplaces, and many top-tier clients with results that speak for themselves. Alongside this, our credits in retail, education and hospitality, with the likes of Cathay Pacific, Toll, Citi, American Express and Apple in Asia, plus our Australian clients, work together to create spaces to simultaneously work, rest, eat, learn and play.

What are your principles in making good design?

At its core Geyer believes that intelligent, beautifully designed spaces inspire people, and that inspired people create value. We also believe in bringing curiosity and spirit to the design process. At Geyer, it is always about the client. Always.

Our clients are truly partners and the process of coming to understand and solve their pain points and exploit all those lovely opportunities to create great businesses goes well beyond providing great aesthetics.

We believe in exploring who our clients are, what makes them tick, what they are afraid of, and what makes them truly successful. And we apply great sector and design knowledge across this to generate intelligent solutions.

What are the keys to designing workspace well?

The keys to designing workspace well revolve primarily around getting a deep understanding of what the company wants out of any space, how it fits in the eco-system of any other spaces, how it connects to third party spaces, and who is coming to play and work in the space. A space cannot be designed using a checklist of numbers of workstations and square metres. That tells us very little about the “why”.

On top of this Geyer brings other ideas and intel to the table that can extend and even challenge what any space could be.

It’s also important to design harmoniously with all the other designers: the engineers, the tech folk, the operations designers. In the end, it’s one simple solution and it needs to be created that way.

Having offices in Australia and Asia, is there any difference on how people demand and react to design?

Asia is a powerhouse of business with its ever-growing number of MNCs and changing political and financial influence. It is very inspiring to work in Asia as many economies and companies leap frog over old ways of doing things providing great impetus for new thinking.

We also recognise that in every country, every city, every organisation, every team there are unique differences, unique needs and unique ways of operating. There are so many cultures across Asia serviced by our diverse team in Singapore.

How do you aim to develop Geyer in your new role as CEO?

By simply living the Geyer principles of listening to our clients and our people, and bringing all the expertise to the table. We will challenge the notions of design, understanding how it can enrich our clients and society. It’s an ever-evolving landscape where clients are becoming more sophisticated and their businesses more complex and fast paced. And design disciplines are merging and changing, and thinking comes from all quarters. It’s a very exciting time to be leading a design firm.

Due to its incredible culture, Geyer is distinctively placed to take advantage of all this new thinking. We’ll be exploring how we can build that into our day-to-day way of working, our business and operating models, continuing the tradition of designing for our clients and not ourselves.

I have a deep belief in the power of design and its ability to positively impact people and the cultures within organisations. I’m focused on maintaining Geyer’s leadership in design by supporting the use of cutting-edge technologies and design excellence across market sectors and in expanding our geographic reach. I’m committed to supporting and enhancing Geyer’s client centric approach to design solutions by underpinning and aligning our unique talent and culture with the overall business strategy.

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Barbara Hahijary
Barbara earned her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Interior Architecture Program of the University of Indonesia in 2013. Historical or heritage buildings, as well as utilitarian design, fascinates her as it is the interaction between people and architecture that remains her favourite topic to explore. Besides architecture, her interests include design, handcrafts, literature and social issues.

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