I’m the principal of Place Visioning™, brand and property marketing agency Hoyne. I started the business in 1991 and over the last decade we’ve evolved from being a generalist brand agency to develop a core focus on place and property. Today we work with major international asset owners, developers and government departments to create recognisable landmarks and destinations; from residential towers and masterplanned communities to commercial developments, mixed-use precincts, suburbs, towns and cities. We’re now considered global thought leaders on place branding and place making.
The best part is always about collaborating with others on new ideas which get put into action. The best ideas positively influence behaviours and assist people to have better experiences in a multitude of different places. The worst part is dealing with difficult and negative people.
I’m a prolific reader, I love it, in fact it’s almost a hobby for me and it gets me to sleep at night. When I was younger I loved looking at design books, but its been years since I bothered. While I read too many big fat books, there is a series of slim books by Paul Arden and in particular one called ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, its How Good You Want to Be’. You could read it in an hour but I will literally take 20 mins to read 3 pages because I read it, I stop and I think. I ask myself: “Am I doing these things? I know this, but I am I really doing it? How am I doing it? How could I do it better? How could I teach this to somebody else?”. And that’s when you know you’re immersed in a book, when you’re actually having that conversation with yourself, rather than just flicking through. When I find a book I really like, that I think is special, I feel the need to share it. For example, one of my favourite books is Blair Enns ‘Win Without Pitching’. It really changed what I believed was possible in this industry in terms of running a design agency. Over the years Blair and I have actually become good friends. But when I read that book the first time I immediately bought 25 copies. I’ve since bought hundreds of copies. So when I have a new person start in the team I’ll often give them a copy or I’ll send it to someone I meet at a conference, because it’s so important to share great ideas and inspire people to see unrealised potential. Lastly are the books by The School of Life, which are an incredible educational forum. No-one is doing what they do with content, which is essentially helping to answer the gritty questions that so many of us are asking today about life, death, the universe and our purpose here.
As a city Sydney is world class on almost every level. Partly because it’s imbued with a culture that promotes and celebrates creativity. And also because it’s a creative melting pot of talent from other parts of the world. Living here, I find that talent comes at you from every direction. It’s inspiring. Conversations become collaborations. A casual coffee turns into a new project opportunity. Sydney is full of optimism.
I'm lucky enough to live in the suburb of Surry Hills which I think has a phenomenal sense of community. Less than 20 years ago, the broader population thought Surry Hills was “too dirty and too dangerous” but over the last decade it’s become so famous it was listed as one of the top 30 places in the world to live. However, artists, photographers, musicians and other creatives have been there for over 50 years. Still to this day it has an incredibly creative energy that has spawned the birth of famous designers and artists. It is also home to incredible bars, restaurants, and my favorite theatre Belvoir St. Of the top 50 restaurants in NSW, half of them are in Surry Hills and the surrounding suburbs of Redfern and Darlinghurst. This incredibly creative atmosphere inspires me every day and has probably had a huge impact on how I view communities and what they should be and do for people.
When you have a business of some notoriety in what is a relatively small industry, you get approached by a lot of people – people looking for a job, advice, mentorship or just a chat. Now, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming because you’re really busy with client work, family, projects, travel, etc, but you try and fit it all in and it’s always great to meet interesting young people. It’s particularly exciting when one of these engaging people happens to be an applicant for one of our roles and then I think, I want to work with you. I love seeing that you’ve got the right attitude, you’re optimistic, you’re enthusiastic, you’re passionate and you’re willing to put in the hard yards. You might be 21 years old but I’m excited about the prospect of learning stuff from you. The thing I really love about smart, engaged people is that no matter how good they are, they’re often pretty modest. I look at their work and think you should be screaming from the rooftops how good you are, but they’re not. The people who are really really good don’t need to scream anything, their work screams for them and they can just sit there quietly. There is something really deep about them too – they’re thinkers, they don’t have to be noisy or loud. And just through a great little conversation you can extract so much out of these people. These are the people who you want to hire and work alongside.
My passion project for the last five years has been our book series, The Place Economy. This is a resource book that presents thought-leadership on best practice placemaking from around the world. It shows that investment in better places leads to greater profit for developers and investors, and results in economies that perform better and communities that are happier and healthier. The idea for the books was born from my belief that more money, intelligence, imagination, craftsmanship and emotion needs to be invested into our cities and suburbs if we are to maintain the quality of life that Australia is renowned for. I’ve worked in the property sector for many years now. Early on I began to see opportunities where developers could increase their profits, by creating places that are of greater value to the community and improve the overall landscape for the benefit of everyone. For most developers, this wasn’t the usual path or even a way of thinking. It can take some courage to make the leap into building for a clear purpose, to leave a legacy of good design and a place that people want to live, play and work. It’s no longer acceptable to develop a site without thinking about amenities or offering a sense of place so that a community can grow and build increasing value over time. There are fantastic examples of the power of placemaking in America and Europe, in particular. We wanted to showcase the success stories, here and overseas so that developers can feel more supported – so what they are doing doesn’t feel like it’s a risk. After two years of research and writing, we launched the first book back in 2016 and the second volume in March 2019. The third volume is in the works and we plan to launch it next year.