Architecture Firm Spotlight #02: Beau Avedissian of Hyper Architects
May 19, 2021at5:00 PM
by Vaishnavi More
Interview by Vaishnavi More, Founder and CEO at Archslate
Edited by Sidhanth Thomas
Having earned his Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Technology, Sydney, Beau Avedissian went on to win multiple accolades leading up to him working on many projects from small-scale dwellings to large-scale healthcare development. Beau focuses on the larger picture, of how design impacts the senses. He lays special emphasis on the archetype, “humans in space.”
Archslate: Tell us a little bit about what HyperArchitects is and how it all began?
Beau Avedissian:I started soon after university. I studied at the University of Technology in Sydney. Having worked at a few other practices, I was always interested in starting my own business and working for myself. I was also doing smaller jobs for other companies. I met up with a friend called Carol with whom I studied at UTS. We began working on two projects in China. Now we are expanding our business in both Australia and China. She is now my wife and we are running this together.
I am more oriented towards the creative side of the business - I tend to think of the ideas and the concepts. She is a lot more analytical - She is great with the numbers side of the business so it is a perfect match.
Archslate: What was that point that made you decide you wanted to start your practice?
Beau Avedissian: The interest stemmed from my curiosity in running my own business in high school. My dad was always running his own businesses. He gave me a couple of books. There is one in particular called Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read it when I was 14 and at the time I did not fully understand what the book was about. However, I did get the idea that there were two paths- You either work building someone else’s business or you work towards building your own business.
At 14 I understood that concept. I was fixated on the way to my own business. Throughout high school, I did other businesses where I began building my acumen. Once out of high school, I started a food truck company called Volkswurst. All of which was quite entrepreneurial. Early on, I was fixated on materializing the idea that I was not going to work for someone in the architecture industry. Instead, I would spend a couple of years gathering experience and understanding the risks associated with founding a business. I was not intimidated by the prospect at all, I saw that as a challenge and I enjoyed that.
"I probably read it when I was 14 and at the time I didn't fully understand what the book was all about. However, I did get the idea that there were two paths - You either work for someone or you work towards building your own business."
Beau Avedissian: I find a lot of architects are not very proactive. It isn’t just about building a nice website and waiting for clients to come. I think it is because we are not taught this in architecture school. I knew about being proactive from my experience running businesses that were not related to architecture. Having those different experiences was helpful to me. A lot of architects that start doing business as sole practitioners are clueless about that side of the business.
It is as much about networking as it is positioning yourself in the right circle. A lot of architects tend to position themselves exclusively within the architecture discipline. They go to architecture networking events, which is great. However, I think it will limit their business. On the other hand, we are networking with developers, people in different industries. We are shifting our focus exclusively from the architecture discipline to other, more different ones. Our clients are developers, so we are networking with those types of people. Thus, it is about positioning yourself in the right circles.
Archslate: Tell us a little bit about what kinds of projects Hyper Architects is working on currently.
Beau Avedissian: At the moment we are designing a hospital in China while working with the design department here. We were consultants in designing the conceptual scheme of our project. We are also the interior designers for the project. We were working with the Local Design Institute in to put together construction drawings. This is an amazing project. It is very big, about 140,000 square meters. It is a fantastic opportunity and it is in South China.
Archslate: What is Hyper Architect’s design philosophy?
Beau Avedissian: We do not drive for a particular style in the book. Some of our recent projects in China have been more focused on the classical style. My wife studied and spent a lot of time in Paris. She has extensive knowledge of classic Parisian architecture. We have been using a lot of that influence in our recent designs. A lot of the facades we are working on are inspired by Parisian architecture. However, it is not our defining style. At the moment, it is what our clients are interested in and what we are designing for them. The style that we are working with, on the other hand, is more focused on the human in space. We focus a lot on technology as well.
"I find a lot of architects tend to position themselves within the architecture discipline. They go to architecture networking events, which is great. However, I think it will limit their business. "
Drawings by Hyper Architects
Archslate:What are some of the biggest obstacles you have seen in the architecture industry today?
Beau Avedissian: When it comes to the question of dealing with new technology, I find that a lot of smaller companies tend to be wary of getting on board with the latest technology available. AI is going to be the future of everything we will be using in the next 10 years. BIM as a service has been around for so many years yet it took so long for people to catch up with it. Only now are we starting to see people use rendering services more. We are seeing more AI-developed applications entering the architecture industry. It all shows how much of an asset technology can be.
Archslate: Many large firms can get projects with ease because a lot of people know about them. What are the challenges involved in getting visibility for small firms?
Beau Avedissian: The emphasis should be on being proactive. I think that is the challenge. It is a mindset thing, which can be a challenge for people to encapsulate. Once they get that mindset of thinking about running a business, it would be more straightforward. The challenges are unlearning what they currently know and re-learning. The mindset is truly the biggest challenge.
Archslate: How important has social media been for Hyper Architects in general?
Beau Avedissian: When I first started the business, I thought it would be very important. So I was pushing it. I came to realize shortly after that it does not play an important role. The clients we work with don't even look at our social media. In terms of generating new business, I do not think it plays a role at all.
When we are dealing with clients, we are not showing them our Instagram or Facebook. However, I think it is great for brand awareness and building up HyperArchitect’s image so that students and other people can begin seeing our work. It is great to showcase our work. It has become important to the homewares section of our company because we are receiving direct consumer business from it. For generating new business, not so much. A lot of architects go with the unfounded assumption that once they set up an awesome Instagram, business will start blowing up, which is what I thought. But it largely depends on the size of the client you are dealing with.
Archslate:You talked about how architects needed to have more sources of income. What do you think are some of the less explored avenues architects could take to diversify their income?
Beau Avedissian: I believe it depends on the firm. We have a fluid process to get products on board because we were doing interior designing. Not every architecture firm is doing that. However, steps can be taken such as outsourcing their rendering skill set and outsourcing their computers. There is a growing market here in renting workstations. If you have a workstation dormant for even a week, you could be renting that out. It is an asset. Renting out technology among other things can be of great help. Firms must start to think about these things.
Tutu is a unique homewares shop that my wife has started. We do interior fit-outs for clients. We wanted to introduce adjacency to the business, where we can start rolling out some very uniquely designed products. I saw this as an opportunity we found during COVID when business was slowing down. Since we could not just rely on one source of income for the company, we began diversifying. My wife looked into these products and whether we could build an E-commerce store on the side.
Architects need to think about varied sources of income, diversifying their business, and introducing new services TUTU enabled us to go directly to the customer. Now, she is selling to companies as well. It’s growing rapidly. We sell household products, plates, cups, and vases. We are expanding into the furniture business as well. However, we are not showcasing that on our website because we feel like they need to be able to see the products in person. Many smaller consumer items are present on our website but we are pushing a whole furniture catalog while working directly with our clients. Thus, when we do interior fit-outs, we can now provide them with a whole selection of furniture items at a wholesale rate. The quality is incredible and the design is amazing, and the price is competitive.
"Since we couldn't just rely on one source of income for the company, we began diversifying. It is very important for architects to think about varied sources of income, diversifying their business and introducing new services."
Products by Tutu
Archslate: What makes Tutu different from its competitors?
Beau Avedissian: It is quite an interesting business model. We have a temporary warehouse in China where we send products to. They then ship these products around the world. Logistics in Sydney is quite expensive. We were able to reduce costs dramatically by working in China, in terms of a business model that translates to being a lot more flexible. It is just a stepping stone. We are passionate about providing amazing products to people. We believe that if you possess a couple of nice interior products, you can make a fairly simple space feel a lot different. People can have amazing spaces by not having to spend a lot. We want to introduce a nice product into people's homes, but it is a stepping stone to something a lot bigger. A large-scale distribution business dealing with furniture. As of right now, we are selling in Australia, China as well as another 20 countries around the world.
Archslate: I am sure the focus might be on a constant shift between HyperArchitects and Tutu. How hard is it to manage two businesses at the same time?
Beau Avedissian: Managing time and prioritizing is quite difficult. We work very long hours so it is not the usual nine-to-five with us. We work hard and it lets us reap the benefits of having extra hours per day. With the extra time that your competitors don’t have, you can do a lot. We were very efficient with how we go about designing and prioritizing our time. I am good at being able to focus on a task with intensity and then quickly switching to another task. My wife handles Tutu’s business side of things. I focus on the architecture side of the business. We do have our roles in the company which is important to be able to focus on the task at hand while not being too convoluted with other concerns.
"Most students these days know how to operate the software. They know some basic Adobe and CAD skills. It is not difficult to find people who do. However, it is difficult to find students with the right mentality while it is almost impossible to teach someone the right way of thinking."
Archslate: As a young and progressive firm, what are the bigger aspirations for HyperArchitects in the next five to ten years?
Beau Avedissian: Growing the size of the business is a priority. We are a relatively small team. However, we are quite efficient. What we can achieve is quite out of the ordinary. Once I can enhance the skill we possess, we will be able to scale the business up quite rapidly. I believe in the next five years or so we will have at least ten times the amount of people working with us. The numbers will see an increase once we can construct the projects we have on hand right now. At the moment, a lot of the projects are in their concept phase or are under construction. Once projects begin to be completed, we will get more clients. The two distribution businesses as well as the architecture and interior designing services will all be scaled up.
Archslate: What are some of the challenges that you see in talent and recruiting?
Beau Avedissian: I tend to look for whether the individual has aspirations and is driven. Whether they have abilities and ambitions to learn and grow. I am not too concerned about their skill set because that can be taught if the individual has the right mentality. While looking for these key qualities, the way they think is something I draw out of them in the early stages. Most students these days know how to operate the software. They know some basic Adobe and CAD skills. It is not difficult to find people who do. However, it is difficult to find students with the right mentality while it is almost impossible to teach someone the right way of thinking. If there is an individual who is driven, ambitious, that is whom I look for. When it comes to the integration of evolving technology, whether they can learn to keep up with it is what I test.
Archslate: What roles are HyperArchitects hiring for?
Beau Avedissian: At the moment, we are primarily looking for an individual who is looking to grow in a young and pregressive company. More specifically, we are looking for an individual who has had past experience working in healthcare developments. We are also looking for someone who has the willingness to learn as well as has a sense of curiosity.
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