Taylor Knights’ Peter Knights speaks to Amelia Barnes

I remember one of my aunts saying to me, ‘It looks like you're going to be an architect’.

Growing up, did you always want to become an architect?
Art and design were my passions early on, so that's what I pursued mainly in my teenage years. Even way back in primary school, I remember taking opportunities to make things out of papier-mâché and presenting them in front of the class.

I remember one of my aunts saying to me, "It looks like you're going to be an architect”. I don't know if it was from there, or what it was, but I think in the back of my mind there was some kind of compulsion to pursue it.

Which values underpin your architecture and interior design studio, Taylor Knights?
I met my business partner James Taylor when working together at Architects EAT. We’re both from the country – me from Mansfield and James from the Grampians – so I think there's a couple of natural affinities we have. One is the outdoors, and the connection with gardens and space.

Every time we approach a design, it’s about really understanding the context and the kind of individual we're designing for. Each project is unique and each project is different, and the real main driver of that is context.

Another fundamental of our practice is good design, and design that's often based in craftsmanship. So we try to use materials that are robust, that tell a story, and are somewhat timeless.

When looking for amazing windows, you look for something with the thinnest profile that can disappear.

What Taylors Knight projects are you most proud of?
Fitzroy Terrace and Malvern Garden House. Both experiences were with wonderful clients who gave us freedom to put some wacky ideas down. For them to kind of believe in it and go on a ride with us, I think that's probably why they're some of the best projects.

I think the mark of a great project is when you're still talking with the clients post construction. They’ve moved in and you're still going out and catching up with them and seeing and speaking to their family.

What makes me proud is not only creating a beautiful piece of architecture, but knowing that it's serving a family in a way that is bringing them a lot of joy.

Why did you use the Vitrocsa Sliding product in your Malvern Garden House project?
When looking for amazing windows, you look for something with the thinnest profile that can disappear – where you can eliminate the frame and just extend the view from the interior throughout to the exterior and beyond. The more that you can eliminate that frame, the more you can get that extension.

In the Malvern Garden House, to be able to extend what was quite compartmentalised and quite insular onto the north-facing gardens was really important. You've now got this really kind of light window element that almost disappears into the landscape, which is offset against the heaviness of the concrete.

What are some architectural periods or designers you’re inspired by?
I think a lot of the 1950s modernist houses are obviously beautiful to look at. The simple forms, the connection with the outdoors – those are some of the strong elements that we pull through our work.

There's a lot of architects that I certainly admire. Local architects such as Kerstin Thompson do incredible work that's contextual, and that's beautifully executed. It's not always about fussy detailing.

Glenn Murcutt and how he connects buildings with the Australian landscape – I’ve always been a huge fan. Also, Rem Koolhaas – I remember just incredible work in the early days.

There are so many wonderful designers, to be honest. You don't need to look far to see incredible work both locally and internationally. I mean, the standard of Melbourne architects is crazy.

We’re aiming to make just beautiful spaces that are really thoughtful.

What are the best and worst things about your job?
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. I think the worst is more of a personal thing, rather than a job-specific thing, but I think the level of dedication and the love you need to give to your work can come at a lot of sacrifices in your personal life. But why I say it’s a double-edged sword is because one of the best things is the joy that you get from stewing over a detail, and really caring about the work you're putting out that's enriching someone else's life.

It's an amazing profession, in that you're creating works of art in many ways. And how good that work of art is, or how good that project is, really comes down to how much love, care, time and effort you put into it. The project becomes a manifestation of that, so if you love it, then it's kind of natural to dedicate yourself to it.

The projects you’re often proudest of are the projects you stew over the most – those that have a lot of challenges, but that you really put your heart into. They're often the projects that you feel the fondest of at the end.

How would you describe the Taylor Knights aesthetic?
We’ve got a tagline on our website that just says “beautiful, thoughtful architecture and interior design”. It's not much, but there’s kind of a lot in that.

We’re aiming to make just beautiful spaces that are really thoughtful, and that speak to the site and the context in a way that it should.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

  • Amelia Barnes – Words
  • Taylor Knights – Architecture
  • Dimpat – Construction
  • Ben Scott Garden Design – Landscape design
  • Derek Swalwell – Photography