Footpath Guides recently wowed us at Melbourne Finders Keepers with their architectural proudness. A business built on a mutual love of architecture, Co-Founder Sonia is here to take us on a tour of the Footpath Guides evolution and love for our cities!
Sydney you’re in for a treat! Footpath Guides have reimagined architectural icons such as Centrepoint Tower, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House in pared-back shapes and colours just for you to discover this December. Join FG at Finders Keepers this Dec 6-8th The Cutaway, Barangaroo!
Can you share the story of how Footpath Guides was born? Who works in the team and what are your individual backgrounds and roles in the business?
Footpath Guides is the side project of three friends with a mutual love of architecture. I am a graphic designer and founder of Design Democracy and we work on the design side of the Footpath Guides. The idea for the Footpath Guides books was born when Dave Roper (founder of Crumpler and Supa Dupa Industries) and Jacques Sheard (filmmaker, writer and architectural academic) first met at a party in Total House Melbourne. The building is an early example of Brutalist architecture, it looks like a giant post-war TV and was under threat of demolition. Dave and Jacques began talking about creating a book that was a homage to Melbourne’s mid-century architecture and contacted me about designing it. Over the past few years the book series has grown and this year we decided to create products inspired by our amazing local heritage architecture.
We love celebrating the cities we live in! What inspires you most about Melbourne and Sydney Heritage architecture? Do you have individual favorites?
As a Sydney born designer who emigrated south I can truly say I am endlessly fascinated and inspired by the myriad of reasons the two cities are just so different. Personal Sydney favourites are the Sirius apartment complex, I remember staring intently at it from the Harbour Bridge when I was little and I loved the giant bright purple air vents and plant holders towering up high in the sky and the intense debates adults had about whether the building should actually be there blocking the harbour views. Another favourite is Centrepoint Tower, the gleaming 1980s ‘golden basket’ with an enormous water tank inside the turret as a counterbalance underneath the glamorous revolving restaurants. And Melbourne’s ICI House built in 1958, I used to work inside the building and loved the groovy courtyard garden but never knew it was Australia’s first modernist glass skyscraper and tallest building. Finally, Melbourne’s OPSM Building built-in 1960 which features in our first Footpath Guide and was demolished while we were designing the book. It was my favourite building on the Collins Street tram route and reminds me of why we created the Footpath Guides. To promote and ultimately protect Australia’s unique architectural species.
How did you go about deconstructing our iconic architecture? Can you share the creative process in bringing together your fine art prints, objects, and Footpath Guides?
I wanted to design products that were an extension of the buildings featured within the Footpath Guides, but with a focus on abstracting and simplifying the architectural forms. The tourism world is filled with realistic imagery and illustrations of Sydney and Melbourne’s iconic buildings, for me it was important to see if we could take a different approach and create bold and colourful artwork that is locally designed and produced.
We wanted to design products that locals and tourists would respond to, promoting our iconic heritage architecture both within Australia and globally.
We wanted to design products that locals and tourists would respond to, promoting our iconic heritage architecture both within Australia and globally. Using the colours and abstract patterns featured in the books we searched for our own Australian architectural visual vernacular, using symbols and shapes to build a collection of imagery that is a cultural and historic mash-up of our built environments.
Without giving away all your city secrets – Can you suggest a few not to miss architectural spots for those visiting The Cutaway, Barangaroo on foot?
There are so many amazing buildings in The Rocks area, the Campbell’s Stores in Circular Quay West are a rare example of mid-19th-century Georgian warehouse architecture on Sydney’s foreshore. The Workers Flats on Lower Fort Street which were built in 1910 to replace slums ridden with bubonic plague, and Old Fort Street School which was built in 1815 to house the guards of convicts, known as the “Rum Corps” for their liquor trading monopoly. Sydney Observatory built-in 1858 is up on Watson Road on the same site as an early structure that was originally set up to observe a comet that was calculated to appear in 1790. But of course, you’ll need a trusty Footpath Guide to The Rocks in your pocket to help with your architectural exploration of the area!
We can’t wait to see what Footpaths Guides has lined up for Finders Keepers Sydney! What architectural delights can we expect to discover?
For our Sydney products we’ve been tackling architectural icons such as Centrepoint Tower, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House in pared-back shapes and colours. It’s a fun project and we’ve experimented with just how much you can strip away to both reveal and reinterpret architectural forms. We have designed a Sydney series of tea towels, cushions, wall hangings and fine art prints along with a concertina format architecture guide to complement our range of books. We also had fun deconstructing the historic architecture of The Rocks and commercial buildings from the Inter-War period within the Sydney CBD to create giant art prints.