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An impulse for discovery

Cite Magazine

Interior Architect Hami James is one of those fortunate professionals who followed a childhood passion towards a fulfilling career.

“At school I was particularly drawn to the creative arts and humanities based subjects,” says James. “So from a young age I always knew I wanted to do something creative and that led me to the interior architecture course at Curtin University.”

It wasn’t until her final year of undergraduate study that James realised her love for the research involved in interior architecture and the possibilities that would come with it.

“My final dissertation was by far the best and most significant part of the course for me,” she says. “It completely changed the way I thought about the practice and discipline of interior architecture. I always had a natural desire to enquire and an impulse for discovery, and this part of the degree truly ignited my passion for research within the discipline.”

After graduating from Curtin with several awards to her name (including the Artichoke Award and commendations from both the head of school and the dean), James decided to continue her studies by undertaking PhD in interior architecture. She also joined Curtin’s teaching staff to help inspire the next generation of interior architecture students.

It was during this period that she experienced a career highlight when her work was featured in contemporary art space, The Moores Gallery, in Fremantle.

“Creative practice formed a significant part of my doctoral thesis, and in July 2012, I designed and constructed an interior installation at The Moores Gallery,” says James. “It was a challenging and also incredibly exciting moment in my career and was an opportunity to explore, test, and develop my theories in a spatial and physical context.”

James now works for the global design firm Woods Bagot, which has studios in Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.

“My role at Woods Bagot integrates a combination of my two greatest passions – interior design and research. Since joining the company I’ve been involved in workplace consultancy and strategy, and I work within, and across, the interior design team and the workplace consultancy sector,” she says.

“My favourite part of working in a research-driven global architecture studio is when I experience moments when research and practice intersect. Being involved in the initial research phase – collecting data, conducting observations and critical data analysis – and then seeing how this research informs design strategies is incredibly rewarding and highlights the value and significance of research in architecture and interior design practice.”

James still has a long bucket list: she wants to travel around the world, trek the Himalayas, volunteer in an orphanage and continue studying. She also plans to broaden the application of her design research.

“In the future I would like to get more and more involved in research-based projects within the industry and expand my knowledge within the areas of health and wellbeing, evidence-based design and spatial psychology across multiple and disparate architectural sectors,” she says.