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Reintegrating with the real world post lockdown

Warren and Mahoney interiors principal, Tamara White, says following the insular life of lockdown we must invest in real-world experiences to both reinvigorate ourselves and retain top talent.

Reintegrating with the real world post lockdown


October 27th, 2021

Travel experiences and networking provide necessary inspiration to creative problem-solving industries, such as architecture. As human beings creating holistic solutions we need stimuli beyond our screens.

Australia’s most iconic piece of architecture, the Sydney Opera House, was inspired by Utzon’s visits to Central America where he famously found inspiration in monumental Mayan and Aztec structures. Seeing it is one thing. Experiencing it is another. Because all architecture and design work is inherently inspired by our real-world influences and cultural experiences.

The benefits of efficiency gained by working from home has come at the cost of the creativity by osmosis we enjoy at work, conferences and by travelling abroad. There is something unique about an unexpected, in-person mind-meld in one-to-one or smaller group collaborations that can deliver that unquantifiable magic.

Tamara White

While many have enhanced their skills at working remotely – something those working on international projects have always done – the impact of going all remote with absolutely no in-person connection is soul destroying. Looking ahead we must find a balance between remote and face-to-face time to achieve our best work.

This is our opportunity to raise our levels of inspiration, which is key for both our shared and individual success and for retaining the next generation of emerging talent.

International experiences have certainly been pivotal in my career.

The first was the call to Moscow. As a young professional with only a few years’ experience under my belt I couldn’t think of anything more exciting.

The cultural challenges began with my complete lack of language skills and extended to needing to act cool around hand guns in desks alongside unprecedented security checks.

Being a young woman trying to exercise some authority was also very challenging in what was, at the time, a hyper masculine environment. Never mind the architecture, I was out of my depth in the day-to-day and had to learn the art of professional adaptability – quick smart.

It was challenging and it was brilliant. It was wonderful to ‘seek out adventure’ as I worked.

As my career developed, I had the opportunity to combine work and travel, regionally and abroad with clients such as Qantas. During one trip to North America, catching up over a drink visiting colleagues In San Francisco, a spark of conversation changed the course of my life for the next four years. The conversation opened up the chance to collaborate, as they needed more of my specific skill set. I consequently moved my family from Sydney to San Francisco to grow the interiors business.

It’s incredible to me that this chance conversation led to a whole new career chapter, pushing beyond my comfort zone, getting out there meeting new people and learning the culture and ways of this new place we now called home. Rich in experiences, failures, and success. I wouldn’t have had It any other way.

HSBC Tower Suites

When you’re out there connecting you can have those meeting of minds that don’t just lead you personally on a whole new path, they also open up a whole new stream of business and professional growth.


One of the things that drew me to Warren and Mahoney was its agile, central operational model across all international work – where talent from all studios work together to find the best solution for clients in any location.

Our recent work with Dexus for Dexus Place at 80 Collins in Melbourne – a premium event, meeting and flexible suite service – has benefited enormously from bringing together talent from Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland studios.

Similarly, Auckland’s recently completed Commercial Bay Meeting and Event Suites in the PWC and HSBC Towers have been heralded as ‘the next evolution of the workplace’ for their agility, shared amenities and collegiate common spaces. It’s not lost on me that the very purpose of these venues is also to bring people together and create the ideal collaborative work space to spark genius.

So, it’s from these experiences, that I firmly believe that following the break out of lockdown we must commit to reintegrating our talent into the real world by over-investing in moving about.

Conferences, international office exchanges for emerging talent, inter studio face-to-face meets to bring our collective energy together to co-create, and encouraging our people to take their leave to travel the world will be all important.

We certainly will have a fundamental personal yearning for it.

It’s exciting to think that the way to reigniting innovation and creating new connections is just on the other side of our freedom.

Warren and Mahoney Architects

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