Meet Liana Kantilaftas, Hames Sharley’s newly appointed Senior Interior Designer who is helping lead Adelaide’s interior team.
Growing up in a household that empowered architecture and design, it’s no surprise the creative has ended up here. Driven by design research and the ability to incorporate an artistic approach on a commercial level allows Liana to stay at the forefront of the industry.
Despite being involved in several portfolios, her current focus is perhaps one of the most challenging but rewarding sectors – education. Her designs have already significantly contributed to better learning outcomes and environments and will continue to create spaces that can become the catalyst for change. There’s no single education design that works for all, and that’s what Liana loves most about the portfolio.
As a designer, Liana believes she is responsible for maximising the value she creates and ensuring that the changes she makes are always for the better.
In celebration of her promotion, she shares words of wisdom, both professional and personal, as we shine a spotlight on someone who is cementing themselves as a key player in Adelaide’s interior and architecture industry.
1. Firstly, tell us about yourself. When did you first decide you wanted to become an interior designer?
Both my parents are very creative in different ways. I remember as a child watching in awe as my mum drew, painted, sewed and stitched whatever came to mind without a reference image. Later in my teen years, my parents spent a considerable amount of time house-hunting, and I would tag along; this was where my creative mind thrived.
2. You work on a variety of interior projects. What have been one or two of your favourite projects recently, and why?
My two favourite projects would be Modbury High School and Nuriootpa Primary School. We’re in the last phase of construction for both projects now, and watching all the education projects I’ve worked on come to fruition has been an incredible learning experience. Modbury was the first high school I worked on, and there was a stark contrast to Nuriootpa Primary, the first primary school I’d worked on. I had to adjust my focus between each project because (although they’re both education projects) high school and primary schools’ function very differently. We referred back to the DECD Standards to ensure our designs were within these guidelines when designing for both schools.
For both projects, I worked closely with the principals and staff members to establish a design and palette that reflected the school’s specifications and colours, introducing some bright pops of colour in the finishes. I had an amazing team as we worked collaboratively to achieve the final outcome.
A deep understanding informs our approach to all education projects of the changing nature of working, learning and teaching and that many students learn differently. This impacted the way teachers wanted their classrooms set up, which is why furniture and joinery was a critical aspect of the scope.
It was essential for our team to have regular meetings in the early stages of concept design to discuss all aspects of the scope and outline the key elements each school wished to include in the project. We had to learn how the school functioned so we were able to deliver a more functional layout for them.
Our process (which is relevant to many portfolios) was to research, strategise then design.
3. What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an interior designer today?
It would have to be adjusting to the new ‘normal’ due to Covid’s impact on the world. Although it hasn’t had a massive effect on many of the Adelaide projects I’m working on currently, it’s had a noticeable effect on particular material lead times and even how we design a space to allow for social distancing.
4. What is the most important thing you want people to know about your work?
I consider everything about the design and the usability of the space. I focus on the details as they make up the overall design and help create an innovative functional, aesthetically pleasing space. My goal as a designer is to improve the functionality and feel of a space for my clients. I set the bar high to achieve excellent outcomes with all aspects considered. I plan to continue producing designs that reflect my strategic thinking unique design approach.
5. What are some of your methods to stay motivated, focused and expressive?
It’s definitely the variety of portfolios Hame Sharley undertake. No two projects are ever the same, which keeps me on my toes. I enjoy a challenge plus, I’m very competitive, so setting myself goals for each project helps to keep me focused.
We have a very collaborative approach here and there is always someone to bounce ideas off. We have fun and experiment with the designs and various materials, which helps lead us to creative and fresh concepts.
6. What’s next for you in your newly promoted Senior Interior role?
I will be mentoring the interior staff joining the Adelaide studio. I have been so fortunate to have many incredible mentors within Hames Sharley. Now it’s time for me to pass my knowledge and ideas on! This role will make me step out of my comfort zone, but I look forward to these challenges to gain experience and grow.
7. Thoughts and anticipations for the interior design market in Australia for 2022?
The design field is ever-changing. It’s safe to say that covid has shifted everyone’s focus to supporting locally owned and manufactured businesses. 2020 and 2021 projects have put a significant emphasis on sourcing local products to support Australia’s economy. I think this is something that will continue for our upcoming projects.
Culture Questions -
1. Your favourite Adelaide neighbourhood and why?
I’d have to say Henley Beach. I grew up not too far from there and have so many great memories of summers spent down on the sand with an ice cream in hand. There are many places nearby to eat or drink and always a familiar face around. Plus, it’s got to be the best beach on the west side for a swim!
2. Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
My typical Saturday morning would have to include a bit of a sleep-in. I’ve never been an early riser on weekends, followed by an intense Pilates class with my mum and best friend at my local gym.
3. What’s one thing other people may not know about you?
I almost didn’t study interior design. In year 12, I studied IPP graphic design and loved it, so I originally had a ‘Bachelor of Graphic Design’ at the top of my preference list. At the last minute, I swapped to a Bachelor of Interior Architecture at the University of South Australia as I knew that was what I was most passionate about. This was much to my graphic design teacher’s disappointment because I graduated year 12 with a Merit in IPP graphic design – how different my life would be if I didn’t make the last minute swap to interior design!