14 August, 2023
Staying inspired by students
Employee Spotlight: Design Director, Phil

Our Design Director, Phil, talks about his passion for education and staying motivated by the next generation.

Phil is one of our design directors at Maris and like many of our team members, he combines industry expertise with his own unique experiences and skillsets. He’s unusual within the sector, having trained as an architect and urban designer, worked on the master plan for the 2012 Olympics, and taught at the Welsh School of Architecture. 

Today, he continues to stay connected to education alongside his career, believing in the importance and power of nurturing talent and appreciating a fresh perspective. For example, he’s an external examiner and critic at the Welsh School of Architecture and as a past winner of the prestigious National Eisteddfod Architecture Scholarship he was chosen as a judge at the National Eisteddfod festival this year.

Here, he explains why he’s inspired by students and what made the move from working in architecture to design and build.

Fast paced fruition

“In architecture and urban design things take five or six years to come to fruition, whereas in Maris’ world of design and build, you can see a project in 20 weeks. I love the design process and seeing things come to life, and you can do that here because things happen quickly. That’s what I really enjoy.”

Urban inspiration

“I am really into how cities are built and come together. Interestingly, one of the office clients we spoke to recently is bringing multiple parts of their company into one space and needs to provide a synergy between them. Our analogy was that it’s like a town, with a central meeting area and smaller streets – it’s interesting to me how different elements of urban design can filter through to interior spaces.”

Perfection and practicality

“I’m also fascinated by the way things are built and great craftsmanship. It’s a challenge in the fit-out world to achieve great quality at a fast pace. It’s not like architecture where you can pore over a detail for six months to get it exactly right, but I hope that by bringing that knowledge and experience to the office world, I create balance and help to push the quality even higher than Maris already does.”

Pushing boundaries

“What’s amazing at Maris is the ability to work on completely unique projects and have the scope to deliver really creative solutions. One project recently saw us design a space that brought 12 brands into one building under their umbrella corporation. The result is a kind of jewellery box of flexible space with moveable walls that turn into projection screens, an amazing Instagram video-making showroom and a catalogue of interchangeable spaces. We ended up drawing it out on three long sketch rolls before turning it into a logistical reality that met the needs of each individual brand and prioritised staff wellbeing. It’s that sense of possibility that’s a real driving force for me.”

Naivety and narrative 

“I’ve kept my hand in with teaching. Every year I go back to Cardiff and take part in external examinations. Seeing students present their work keeps you connected to their crazy ideas – there’s an energy in the naivety and after you’ve been around the realities of the industry for a long time, I think that’s important. I like going back because it promotes the importance of a design narrative; to do a job well, there needs to be a logical process – university encourages you to have a strong design position showing what do you care about, whether that’s history, the future, sustainability etc.”

Read how Phil got on as a judge at the National Eisteddfod festival

Speak to the team at Maris