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Geyer and Valmont pioneer authentic design-led projects

As Geyer and Valmont come together, a new collaborative model is taking shape. Gillian Serisier speaks with Geyer/Valmont managing director, Marcel Zalloua, and Geyer global design lead, Adam Mundy.

Geyer and Valmont pioneer authentic design-led projects

International law firm fit-out by Geyer.

There are some extraordinary tenets at the heart of the collaboration between Geyer and Valmont. Terms like accountability, transparency and responsibility are too often bandied about with little meaning or follow through.

It is most often the case that when a designer builds a concept around a client brief, there is very little real ability to ensure the project can be delivered without the design being changed or, importantly, delivered at an agreed price.

Nurturing the design integrity, Geyer and Valmont are collaboratively delivering a six-floor atrium connection for Tyro, Sydney.

For Marcel Zalloua, the co-founder of Valmont and now managing director of Geyer and Valmont, this position was untenable. Uniting the companies in 2018, Zalloua saw the acquisition of Geyer as the next stage in the Valmont evolution.

And, while it is an acquisition, there is a new collaborative model taking shape that will see projects managed from concept to completion.

Valmont’s role in the industry has been in design and construction, to bring projects to completion in Australia and now increasingly abroad. Over the years, working with Geyer on several projects positioned the design house favourably in terms of market calibre, client portfolio, reputation, and design acumen.

With its strategy-led design approach, Geyer guided this international law firm to an all-new workplace environment.

“We acquired Geyer with the foresight of using the brand and leveraging its clientele and its strategic place in the Asian market. But also, as a real catalyst for us to look at how we can revitalise the design business and industry, and elevate our offering to our clients,” says Zalloua.

The acquisition was also driven by an enormous respect for the Geyer brand and particularly the Geyer culture established by Sandy and Peter Geyer.

“As an organisation, we, Valmont, aspired to have a design practice that was like Geyer, that brand legacy and that aspiration was driving us for a long time, we always looked up to Geyer. So, when the opportunity came, it was almost a no brainer,” says Zalloua, before letting his business brain add, “strategically it made a lot of sense.”

International law firm.

As part of revitalising the brand, Adam Mundy was appointed global design lead in early 2020. Like everything Zalloua undertakes, the appointment was a considered choice. Mundy, while Australian, has spent the majority of his 20-plus years’ experience in New York with several years in Singapore and Hong Kong and the Asian regions.

Projecting his considerations for acquiring Geyer onto appointing Mundy, the pattern repeats in terms of Mundy having equal weight in design, strategy, marketing, Asian experience, global experience, and an extraordinary eye.

Mundy joined the business with a combined Bachelor of Interior Architecture and Interior Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Moreover, his thinking is similar to Zalloua’s with the client experience understood as key to long term success.

Geyer design-led project for Bird&Bird headquarters, Sydney.

“Not every client needs the same solution to the design, the delivery, the methodology behind doing that design. It’s not a single blanket solution,” says Mundy.

“The merging of, or the bringing together of two teams, construction and design, (lead and design and strategic thinking), allows us to be agile enough to put together a team that really suits our client’s particular need for that particular project or a range of projects that we’re working on with them,” he says.

Client continuity has been relatively stable, with many Geyer contracts choosing to stay in place for the Geyer and Valmont evolution. Internally, change has been more apparent with COVID-19 attritions coupled with the general attrition a change prompts.

That said, the vision is strong, and those who have chosen to stay are embracing the change, while others of an exceptional calibre are drawn to a model that enables designers to create work that will be fully realised.

Bird&Bird headquarters.

“Designers create the concept, a concept developed in collaboration with our project team and our delivery team. So, it’s a holistic process,” says Mundy.

“There’s no disappointment in having something value engineered as not billable or that doesn’t meet the schedule. By holistically integrating that process, we know that what we design is going to be delivered. And that is empowering for a designer regardless of whether Valmont is the delivery partner or not.”

A recent example is a six-floor atrium connection that, with COVID-19 limitations on materials and delivery, would traditionally be altered to meet available resources. In the combined business offering, the resources are already in place with cost and design deliverables.

“We don’t have to change our design to meet the schedule, we’re able to manipulate the schedule and the team to deliver our design, and that’s great,” says Mundy.

A Geyer and Valmont collaboration – meticulous details at The Castlereagh Club, Sydney.

Zalloua’s vision “to deliver value and great design to our clients” is a difficult one from any perspective controlled by others, whether that is design compromised by construction or construction compromised by design.

A new model emerges by joining the professional knowledge, skill, and experience of both ends of the process. Unique to the market, the Geyer and Valmont offering is one of true strategic design, where outcome, value and execution are assured.

In short, accountability, transparency and responsibility have been returned to the client/design/build relationship. The addition of this skill set allows Geyer to offer this service regardless of whether Valmont is proving delivery.

Adam Mundy, Geyer global head of design (left), and Geyer and Valmont managing director, Marcel Zalloua (right).




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