Isthmus

Ethos

Process.

To realise the full potential of every brief we take an open-minded, inquisitive and inter-disciplinary approach. We start without knowing the answer. We pay attention to the creative process.

Our creative process.

Our flexible studio culture incubates ideas; the closer and more collaboratively we work together, the more chance ideas have of spreading, growing, cross-pollinating and transforming. We call this way of working ‘no boundaries’ because we think in terms of opportunities rather than constraints.

While every project is different, each follows the same fundamental six-step process, all the time informed by our kaupapa of land, people and culture.

1 — Observe.

At early stages of design we immerse ourselves in place and culture. We seek to understand the physical and spiritual nature of the environment. We explore multiple perspectives on the site and the brief. We observe, analyse, question and record in words and drawings. We listen to the people’s stories and read what the land has to say.

2 — Imagine.

We use these insights to kick-start out-of-the-box thinking that tests and challenges assumptions. Often the most interesting answers lie at the fringes and intersections. We pull designers from different disciplines together to look for hidden opportunities and envision future outcomes. This is an expansive phase; we imagine what’s possible. Everything is up for grabs, we explore every opportunity.

3 — Create.

We engage with clients, stakeholders and the wider community, striving for win-win outcomes that address multiple issues with simple, effective design gestures. The co-design process is iterative and engaging, with facilitated decision making steering the design direction. We look for simple, powerful and enduring design moves.

4 — Refine.

We lock the big ideas in, and enter a period of testing and refinement. We go back to stakeholders and the community to see if the designs resonate with them. We often produce options, so that the relative benefits of different design approaches can be weighed up against each other. Sometimes we need to go back a step or two before we are able to find the best design solution. Once agreed with clients and stakeholders, we move ahead.

5 — Document.

We call on the depth of our team to document the project. We refine the design ideas, codifying them into detailed drawings, specifications and contract documents paying careful attention to sustainability, technical compliance, safety in design and cost. We manage value through design. We navigate procurement processes and oversee the translation of design into physical form, negotiating the commercial and contractual complexity of the construction process.

6 — Reflect.

We take pride in seeing our projects through to construction. Built work forms a valuable archive of design intelligence from which we draw. We research and reflect upon project outcomes, learning from our experience, evolving ideas for use in future projects. In this way we connect research, theory and practice and complete the project cycle, ready to immerse ourselves in the next challenge.