InterVIEW – Marc Bernstein

Marc Bernstein, winner of the BDAV's 2018 Building Design of the Year, shares some thoughts with us.

Melbourne Design Studios won this year’s BDAV Building Design of the Year and several other awards. We thought it timely to interview Marc Bernstein from MDS, who shares the following thoughts with us.

How did you feel when you were announced as winner of the BDAV’s 2018 Building Design of the Year?

It was a huge surprise, but what a nice one! Really felt very proud at that moment to be honoured with this amazing prize, and super thankful to a fantastic repeat client and a wonderful team in house – couldn’t have done it without either of those!

What is/are your favourite project/s that you have worked on, and why?

Each project is individual, and if there wasn’t something in them that I loved (be it an awesome client, a great brief, a wonderful site or even a combination of them all) I probably wouldn’t have taken them on. For me, projects are almost like a little baby that starts to grow in your mind and then comes to life – and then you have to suddenly let go…. If I’d have to pick one – I often come past the Birkenstock HQ in Clifton Hill that’s won us the Building Design of the Year in 2014, and it still fills me with great memories!

To date, my biggest business/design challenge has been?

On a business level, managing cashflow and workflow are always hard . We are passionate about what we do, so often we spend a lot more time designing and detailing things than envisaged, or even during Contract Admin, so it’s time that we hadn’t allowed for originally which, of course, then has an impact on both workflow and cashflow.

My favourite finish is?

Any natural product – a warm and textured timber finish on the outside or a beautifully veined natural stone internally.

The architectural style of the home I grew up in?

Hah, I don’t think there’s a style label that could be put on it. I would call it “Suburban Functional Post-War Modernism” with a bit of 1970s retro interiors – brown bathroom tiles with green toilet suites, wallpaper, pine clad ceilings , the whole works! … Growing up in Germany though, the typical family home of that period (and often still today), is actually divided into two flats, one downstairs and one upstairs, usually for the extended family to live in. Plus we had a shop at the front which used to be my granddad’s bakery & corner store. So when I grew up, my grandma and auntie were living downstairs and we were upstairs, and we would all share parts of the house and garden – true multi-generational living, that is celebrating a huge comeback back at the moment!

I joined the BDAV because?

Ingrid (Hornung) said I should!

What actually happened was that we were in the process of setting up Melbourne Design Studios at that time, and the BDAV was so wonderfully helpful with any queries and issues we had, and was able to provide us with agreements and contracts and contract admin forms and all sorts of advice and assistance, that the question should really be why wouldn’t you!

My favourite Australian building is?

Heide 2. When I first saw it, I was in total awe of the simplicity and beauty of this mid-century modernist gem.

(Top image: Christine Francis)

My favourite international building is?

Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki by Timo & Tuomo Suomalainen. I didn’t actually know it existed before I got there (and I do apologise for that ignorance!). So I kind of stumbled upon it by accident when visiting Helsinki some years ago. Don’t know if it was because of the surprise effect as well, but it really blew me away, the light and the serenity inside, and the way it was built into the rock, just beautifully detailed. Love it!

When I was a child I wanted to be?

A writer. I actually did start to study German and the English language and literature at university, before ditching that and doing what I do now.

Outside of work, I am passionate about?

Outside of work? There’s a world outside of work? Gotta go check that out now …

At the moment I am reading?

“A series of unfortunate events” – love reading kids’ books at the same time my kids read them. Much better than watching a movie together, as you all have your own pictures and can talk about how similar or different they are. Also reading a (much less exciting) book called “Fat-Logic” at the moment – really need to shed those extra pounds!

My life in 4 words?

Crazy & Chaotic, Exciting & Invigorating.

Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki
Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki