What’s your background and how did you end up doing what you do? Have you always had an aesthetic eye?
I always drew growing up, so I went to university and did sciences. I was hopeless at it so I thought architecture would be a good way to keep drawing. No I didn’t have a good eye at all, my first 2 years at architecture school I was rubbish but I found my feet towards the end, these things take time.
What is a typical day in your studio like?
It's usually pretty fun, I have a great bunch who keep things lively and noisy. I am all over everything that we do, so I spend a lot of my time going from person to person and moving things around. The stuff we have on the boards right now amazes me. I am now getting to do the things I naively thought architects did when I was at architecture school.
What are you currently working on?
As well as city pads we are doing a lot of coastal holiday homes on some amazing sites. I am getting into high end leisure stuff with the Te Arai Links golf courses, we are the lead architects there so we are doing all the guest accommodation as well as the clubhouse, the restaurant, a bunker bar and a pizza barn so that’s all very exciting. Our projects are all over the country which is fun, we are doing a home that’s a bridge, one that floats, one that’s dug into the hill, one that flies, one that parties hard, one that is introverted, one that’s a cloak and some elemental looking sculptural homes. Good times.
On pushing boundaries... I tell my clients that they will all be dead soon so just go for it.
Which creators, artists, designers inspire you?
David Byrne, my daughter, Caravaggio, Carlo Mollino, Peter Zumthor, Wile E. Coyote
How does your home reflect you?
I’ve got an old cottage in town which I’m in the process of obliterating and a 60s A frame retreat in muriwai beach, its a lovely place full of mid-century furniture …mostly from you guys, Muriwai keeps me relatively sane.
What characterises your design aesthetic?
Er that’s one of those awkward questions, I would rather someone else told me what it was. Maybe keep it simple?
How do you push boundaries within architecture?
I tell my clients that they will all be dead soon so just go for it.
Coming up with the concept is a thrill, but the best part is hanging out with the clients when its all done and seeing how happy they are, I also like that by the end of it they think you are quite clever.
If you hadn't devoted your career to architecture, what else would you be doing?
I really have no idea. I always liked the idea of acting and playing pretend, I think being a rockstar or an astronaut would also have been excellent career choices.
What would you consider your career milestone?
Definitely our work at Tara Iti and now with Te Arai links, it's such a thrill seeing that all coming together. A few years ago I visited a pine plantation by the sea and the other week we went there as an office and stayed in the suites we designed, ate and drank at the restaurant we designed and danced on the tables that we designed. God it was glorious. We all had the best time.
A big thank you to John Irving for sharing insights into his work.
View more Studio John Irving Architects projects at studiojohnirving.com