SA Business of Design 2023

5 December 2023

On 22 August the ACA SA Committee hosted the fifth annual Business of Design lunch with guest speaker, Andrew Maynard of Austin Maynard Architects (AMA). We drew a record crowd of over 100 people, our biggest event to date. And no wonder. Andrew was entertaining, engaging and downright funny at times. Three of our attendees reflect on his presentation from his early days of being a ‘great student’ to his work overseas and maintaining a work life balance.

“Andrew Maynard was an engaging speaker. The back story of his progression from a ‘great student’ to ‘terrible employee’ to branching out and starting his own architecture firm at 27 was interesting, though it seemed serendipitous at times – from working on paper architectural projects and putting them online in the early days of social sharing and then gaining traction overseas, to living and working in the UK and coming back to Australia with a strong exchange rate behind him, allowing him the freedom to take risks.

He made references throughout his talk about keeping his team small and about believing in and being passionate about what they were creating from the start, which meant that ultimately clients were starting to self-select when engaging AMA for work. This seemed to be a common theme throughout the talk. His team is select, a tight group that all bring balance to the business. Mark Austin picks up the side of the business that isn’t Andrew Maynard’s strength. They have stayed ‘small’, hired well and retained staff. He is a big believer in 9–5 and balance and installs this from the top down. After an experience in developing where he was miserable and his family suffered, he has experienced both sides and values balance so prioritises it for himself and his team.

It seems that as AMA has grown over the years, the core belief of ‘not being in it for the money’ and making enough to be comfortable has removed a certain amount of pressure. It has allowed them – as a collective – a sense of freedom to be purposeful with delivering their projects in the sustainable and social housing worlds. It was a great insight into an established Australian architectural brand. Andrew certainly has a flair for public speaking and is passionate about what he does, which is evident in not only his work but how he delivered his talk.”—Adrienne Nicholls, JPE Design Studio


“Andrew Maynard has created his brand by being outspoken about his values from the outset of going into practice. He deliberately put time and energy into non-billable ‘paper architecture’ where he was able to clearly express his ideas and values, while at the same time delivering small projects for financial survival. The ‘paper architecture’ (articles, competitions) in large part set his brand.”—Kirsty Hewitt, Khab Architects

“It was interesting to hear Andrew Maynard reflect on how to make the business of architecture a sustainable venture. He highlighted how he didn’t spend any effort on telling people how great he was; rather, he got his conceptual ‘paper’ projects published internationally by taking a stance on topics that impact wider society, and demonstrating some design interventions that could help make a difference.”—Michael Hegarty, dwp Australia