Designer Kathy Demos reveals 5-year-long secret design

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Designer Kathy Demos reveals 5-year-long secret design

Designer Kathy Demos worked on a new building material concept in total secrecy for half a decade and has finally revealed the design.

Demos collaborated with the team at PGH Bricks to produce a stunning metallic brick, which would reflect different coloured light across the day. PGH have been in the brick manufacturing industry for over 100 years, and of their expansive team, only six workers knew about the project. The bricks will be featured on the lower levels of the John Demos Architects designed 'Luminess', and will sit above traditional red brick, and below modern glass and concrete, providing a strong tie between the two juxtaposing elements. 

Designer Kathy Demos reveals 5-year-long secret design
Metallic bricks designed by Kathy Demos in collaboration with PGH

Intrigued by the secrecy of the project, we asked Kathy Demos a few questions about the project, and discovered that she already has another exciting building material in the works.

Urban.com.au: What sparked the idea to create bricks with a metallic quality, and how did you arrive at the final decision of the material used?

Kathy Demos: Bricks are a traditional building product of great quality. The PGH Urban Metals range was developed specifically for Permarc’s Luminess project. We wanted to highlight the capacity of such an age-old product to continue to be highly relevant, sophisticated and surprising. It was this juxtaposition that was integral to the project. Copper, bronze, silver and zinc were selected as these finishes were emerging in fashion and homewares but we also wanted to take it a step further. What elevated this range was the decision to glaze the bricks to create an almost mirror-like effect. This meant that the bricks would constantly change in appearance depending on the light giving an ephemeral quality to a building façade.

U: Throughout the 5 year evolution period, how involved were you in the production process?

KD: Whatever the design project is, my role extends from the original concept through production, pricing, marketing and sales, whether it is a building product or the interiors of an apartment building. Ideas are challenged, designs are refined – there is a constant application to the task. Collaboration is essential and part of the joy of projects like these. The expertise from the laboratory, the factory floor and the PGH marketing specialist was vital to the development of this range.

U: How long does it take to produce each individual brick?

KD: Bricks are actually quite fast and easy to make, even ones as sophisticated as the Urban Metals. Hundreds of bricks can be produced in just a few days, its the design and development which is so vital to the success of any product that needs more time and investment.

U: In terms of durability, how do they compare to the standard brick?

KD: Bricks are highly durable and Urban Metals are no exception. The glazed finish makes this range less porous therefore more resistant to environmental factors and graffiti.

U: Are the bricks likely to be sold commercially in future? Do you worry this could take away from the uniqueness of Luminess?

KD: I am proud that Luminess will always be the first development to use these bricks. As a commercial designer, I am looking forward to seeing them on many more buildings – they will look different each time as architects find new ways to integrate bricks into their buildings.

U: What do you believe are the most important factors to consider when designing a landmark development?

KD: For me, it is only a landmark when people recognise it as such, not because of a council designation. All projects are approached in the same way, that is, to create something that addresses objectives and challenges so that the final result contributes positively, even culturally, to people’s lives.

U: What kind of new design processes and technologies are you currently interested in exploring next?

KD: I am currently working with cladding specialist, Cemintel, a company that places great emphasis on cladding that is suitable and safe for buildings. We have just launched a new range, 'Surround', which is prefinished with colour-through technology. It means that buildings can be clad in a range of textures and colours which never need painting and will sustain a beautiful appearance for years. There are other new products in development too, but I can’t tell you about those yet. Another one of those secrets!

Designer Kathy Demos reveals 5-year-long secret design
Luminess, Essendon

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