Tisha Lee is the director at Architectural firm K2LD. Tisha has led K2LD since its inception to become one of Australia’s leaders in architecture. K2LD also have an office in Singapore and Tisha notes the influence of Singaporean design on Australian architecture through the studio’s work.
Not only have K2LD delivered some of Australia’s most significant educational, residential, and civic projects with Tisha at the helm, but they also focus a lot of attention on their internal office culture as Tisha believes this speaks directly to better design outcomes. Tisha says that she set out to “create space for people to thrive”.
Tell us about K2LD.
K2LD is an architecture and interior design practice based in Melbourne and in Singapore. We are a family owned and run business with 40 staff in our Melbourne office and 35 in based in Singapore. We pride ourselves on our diversity with over 20 different backgrounds represented and a very balanced gender mix, and we primarily working in the educational, residential and interior design space with a vision to “Nurture the Future”.
Tell us about your career and background.
I have been really fortunate to enjoy a rewarding career in architecture and design over the last 20 years working in both a big and small practices in Melbourne and overseas. In Melbourne, I started out working in a medium sized practice called Swaney Draper architects doing mainly residential and educational work, and then moved to Hassell doing bigger commercial and educational projects. Throughout my career I was fortunate to have mentors and colleagues that supported a young woman and mother in architecture, and I was given a lot of opportunity to work with clients directly to bring their dreams and visions to life. Having worked across educational, interiors and residential design, I have particularly enjoyed the cross pollination of typologies where sharing ideas between houses, schools and offices can create a really rewarding outcome. Now having led a practice for the last 13 years, I am in a role where I can support other younger designers in their career and their journey through architecture and it’s been great to see attitudes to diversity and gender change over this time.
Describe a typical work day for you (if there is such a thing).
Part of the beauty of working in a creative field is that no day is the same. Every project is different and every client is different, making lots of interesting interactions. My main role in the practice now is about bringing ideas to life; whether these be strategic directions for the practice, winning new work, driving the direction on a projects or working on new perspectives for our people and culture. This involves lots of collaboration and working with our team as well as working closely with our clients to understand their brief and facilitate their ideas in the built outcome.
Has COVID-19 affected your business? How are you navigating that?
Yes, we have been affected but I would like to think this has been positive. The global pandemic gave us an opportunity to re-assess what’s really important to the business and our people. It forced us to transition onto digital platforms quickly, and it also made us work harder to bring our people together. Without travel and commute times between meetings, we suddenly had all this extra time to connect. It also gave us space to sharpen our business strategy and focus more greatly on our relationships with our clients. We are acutely aware that 2021 will still have its challenges but with stronger foundations and a greater collegiality amongst the team we are excited about being able to explore new ways of working and different approaches to design in the coming months.
What advice do you have for those wanting to start a business?
Do what you enjoy. Running a business is a life commitment. Like marriage or any long-term partnership, it’s one of the biggest commitments you will make in your life, therefore it is so important that you are working in an area that you love. You also need to be prepared for good and bad times. I think the events in 2020 have taught us all that life can be unpredictable. Surrounding yourself with a strong support network in business and in friendships is important in helping you to get through the tough times. But great partnerships also give you people to celebrate with you when things are going great.
What’s next for you, and K2LD?
We are looking forward to 2021 and the opportunity to be together in person again, however it won’t be in the same way as pre-COIVD. We have all learnt so much in the last 9 months and are looking to explore more flexible working arrangements with a focus on strong collaboration with our business partners. We have also worked to establish a great base for our education, multi-residential and commercial projects and are looking to roll out some new planning and design ideas in our new projects. Lastly, we have been able to establish some interesting academic and research initiatives in 2020 and are looking to bring some of these creative ideas to fruition.